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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Harry Connick Giving Fatherly Advice on American Idol...

Harry Connick, Jr.
In one of the most memorable lines of Godfather III (maybe the only memorable line), Michael Carleone says, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."

That could well be my motto year after year as I sit
in front of the television with my daughters to watch American Idol.

It seems that every year, I get reeled back in, like the "sucker born every minute" that P.T. Barnum mentioned in his famous quote.

Usually, I get hooked by a contestant with a heart-warming story of defying personal struggles and afflictions through faith, hope, perseverance and a gift that only God could have given them to finally get a chance to live out their dream.

In recent memory, Danny Gokey comes to mind and Paris Tassin.  Paris who?  Yeah, she didn't make it very far in 2011 but she had an amazing story

However, after the fiasco of the foul-mouth Nicki Minaj and her ongoing dispute with Mariah Carey last season, I swore I was done with the show (again!). 

That is until I heard they were bringing back the highly popular Jennifer Lopez as a judge (Let's be honest, she's reason enough to tune in every week, although let's keep this between us since I don't want my wife thinking I'm watching just because of J-Lo!), as well as Keith Urban (which I write with same enthusiasm as the Heat announcer calls out the names of the opposing players when they score a basket.  Just kidding, he kind of grows on you!) and Harry Connick, Jr. 

Connick, in particular, piqued my interest.  I had been wanting to blog about him ever since my wife told me he was a practicing Roman Catholic several years ago. 

In fact, during the first several weeks of the show, he's made several references and comments that denote his faith and values, such as mentioning the sacrament of confession a few times, or dissing a singer's tattoo, or telling a 15-year-old girl that she should choose more age-appropriate music, "Cuz hearing about you 'shaving me smooth' really was creapin' me out,' prompting J-Lo to chime in by saying, "You're such a dad!" (which, before Al Bundy and Homer Simpson was not such a bad thing since everybody knows, Father Knows Best!).

"Harsh Harry," as he is now referred to on the show for his blunt comments, was raised Catholic, despite having a Jewish mother.  According to the singer/actor, his father was Irish-Catholic and his mother didn't push any religion on him, wanting him to make his own choice when he got older.  He says he was convinced about his faith by his early teens, "At the age of 14, I decided that I really wanted to be Catholic so I got Confirmed and Baptized on the same day."

He attended a Jesuit high school but, in a 2009 interview with Christianity Today, he actually credited his parents' faith and example with shaping his life more than anything he learned at school or from the pulpit.

The Connick, Jr. family...
“I think the church manifests itself in my life through the people who have set the best examples for me, like my dad, my sister. My mother, who was raised Jewish…knew more about the Catholic Church than 99 percent of the Catholics I know. And her actions were Christian actions. The kind of faith in God that she and my father had, honestly that probably shaped me more than the Church did growing up. Because I learn by observing. I learn more by an example that’s been set than by doctrine or the words that are being spoken.”

The three-time Grammy and two-time Emmy winner, who performed for Pope Benedict XVI at Yankee Stadium, during the Holy Father's visit to the U.S. in 2008, and often volunteers for Church fund raisers and to help the needy in his hometown of New Orleans, credits his faith for shaping who he is, which is considered by many to be classic and traditional, like his music.     

In an interview on the Busted Halo Show with Fr. Dave Dwyer, he said, "For me having my faith and my family allows me to go out into the stratosphere with my art and it makes me completely uninhibited as a singer and as an actor because I know where my home is."

Unlike his mother, who chose to wait, the husband of more than twenty years to his wife, Jill, and father of three girls says he wanted to instill and pass on his faith to his children from early on, "My children, I chose to have baptized because, personally, I think it's better to raise them in a situation or an environment and if they want to decide, they're going to grow up anyway.  But, I think if they have structure; no matter what religion you choose for them,  I think it's important to have that and that's something that I missed as a little kid."

Interestingly, a Patheos article recently pointed out that this is the first "all Catholic" American Idol judging panel (Or, at least Catholic-influenced, since J-Lo attended Holy Family Catholic school in the Bronx, and Keith Urban got married in a Catholic wedding with actress Nicole Kidman in 2006).

So this year, as I watch the popular show, where sometimes anything goes, with my girls, which I am truly enjoying because of the chemistry between the judges (Connick's wit and slapstick humor often has Urban crying in laughter), it is refreshing to know that, at least, my daughters are watching and listening to some sound faith-based advice that the famous Jazz musician "dad," gives to the contestants.

In an interview, Connick once said, “I have pretty good judgment about what's out of bounds in terms of what's crass or lewd or inappropriate.”  Therefore, since I was pulled back in, like Michael Carleone, I'm hoping "Harsh Harry" continues to show uncompromising judgment and be more like Jim Anderson (Father Knows Best) in injecting some much needed traditional values to prime time TV...


Divina K. said...

I don't watch American Idol, but Harry Connick, Jr. has been a long time favorite. Besides his music, I have admired him for his long-time marriage, his family, and his faith. It's wonderful that he is a judge on such a poplar show. I just might have to start watching!

Jess fayette said...

That is really a super interesting AI insight! I don't normally watch the show, but I did see he was judging and thought about tuning in. Thanks for posting!

Carlos Espinosa said...

Thank you Divina and Jess.
Idol does have a modern cultural edge that can be a bit concerning at times but as long as we keep in mind that we are in the world but not of it and use it as a teaching tool for our older kids, it can serve it's purpose. Thanks again for your comment. God bless...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this. I rarely watch Idol but was pulled in because of Harry's comment to the 15 year-old girl. I've been curious about Harry since then. It is so refreshing to find a practicing Catholic in the public forum.