Three-time Grammy Award–winning musician, singer, and composer Harry Connick Jr. visited Berklee on Tuesday, October 19, for an exclusive conversation with Berklee President Erica Muhl at the Berklee Performance Center. Connick and Muhl discussed a variety of topics, from his musical techniques to working during the pandemic to playing Daddy Warbucks in NBC's upcoming special Annie Live!, airing in December.
"I give 100 percent to everything I do," said Connick, who encouraged students to not limit themselves and to never quit. "I remind myself every day of what a blessing it is to make art for a living.... I don’t get burned out, I don’t get exhausted, and I don’t get tired. I don’t subscribe to the philosophy of writer's block, feeling uninspired, feeling like I don’t want to do it today. I just do it. Give yourself something to edit by writing, performing, creating constantly. Make a choice to do it."
Connick’s career has exemplified excellence across multiple platforms in the entertainment world over the past three decades. He has received Grammy and Emmy awards as well as Tony nominations for his live and recorded musical performances, his achievements in film and television, and his appearances on Broadway as both an actor and a composer. Connick continues to establish himself as a best-selling musician, singer, and composer, and as a legendary live performer with over 30 million albums sold around the world. Connick has always found the time to be charitable and has done some of his most important work in his efforts to help New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
After the interview, Terri Lyne Carrington, Grammy-winning drummer, composer, producer, and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, led a performance by students from the institute. Connick surprised the students by giving them feedback, then demonstrated some of his techniques.
"Harry Connick Jr.’s honesty and candor about what it takes to make it in this industry, and remain relevant over a lengthy career, was priceless to our students," said Muhl. "We truly appreciate his willingness to share his incredible life experiences and offer advice that deeply connected with and inspired Berklee musicians. And his demo at the piano on ways for our students to think about improv brought down the house!"
In addition to his interview with President Muhl, Connick participated in a master class moderated by George Russell Jr., chair of the Harmony and Jazz Composition Department, on Wednesday, October 20.
Early in the pandemic, Connick retreated into his home studio, where he wrote, arranged, and recorded a new album, the aptly titled Alone with My Faith, released in March. Connick played every instrument and sang every part on the record.