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Interview with Harry Connick, Jr.

Aired August 29, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Harry Connick, Jr., it's been five years since Hurricane Katrina devastated his beloved New Orleans. He shared the heartbreaking pain with us.


HARRY CONNICK, JR.: It's almost unbelievable. I can't even think of words to articulate it.


KING: And now he updates us on efforts to repair, rebuild, and recover.


CONNICK: I mean, people are living here now and establishing a whole new tradition. So it's pretty exciting for me to walk these streets.


KING: On the scene in New Orleans, the man who believes music redeems.


KING: Harry Connick, Jr. is next on "LARRY KING LIVE."

CONNICK: That's New Orleans right there .


KING: It was five years ago this weekend that Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. That storm killed more than 1,800 people, destroyed more than a quarter of a million homes. Countless families were shattered economically and emotionally.

Here to talk about his beloved New Orleans tonight is Harry Connick, Jr. The Grammy and Emmy winning performer has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide. He's a terrific actor too and a great talent. He's a special guest on the new album, Music Redeems, featuring New Orleans' own Marsalis family. Lots to talk about with Harry tonight. Where were you, Harry, on August 29, 2005, the day Katrina hit the Gulf Coast?

CONNICK: I was in Cape Cod on vacation, Larry. And I was watching the news as everybody else was. And the first thing that came to my mind was how can I get down there? And I kind of finagled my way down. Obviously, you know, you couldn't find an easy path to New Orleans. But I ended up getting down here the day after, and stayed for a few days, just to try to really looking for my dad, because I couldn't get through. You know, the phone lines were down and everything. So I spent the first part of it, you know, just making sure my dad was all right, and my family, and my friends and things like that.

KING: When you first heard about it, that a hurricane had hit, did you have thoughts that it could be this bad?

CONNICK: Well, New Orleans has gone through many hurricanes, you know, forever. I remember my mother telling me a story about it was either Hurricane Betsy or Hurricane Camille, I think around 1969, I get them mixed up. But she used to tell me that she had to hold on to me because the wind was blowing so strong. And, you know, it just -- hurricanes are something that New Orleanians are used to.

What really was the difficult part to understand was the levees breaking. That was something that we did not expect. I grew up in Lakeview, which is very close to where one of the levees was breached. And we used to play on those levees growing up. That was just, you know, kind of a big playground for us. And to think that that mammoth structure would have been broken by the pressure of the water was inconceivable to most of us down here.

KING: Harry Connick, you were on this show on September 3rd, 2005, when we did a three-hour special about how people could help the victims of Katrina. And we showed a heart wrenching photo and asked you to tell the story behind it. Let's all watch it again.


CONNICK: That woman was born in New Orleans. And she's outside the convention center. She's dead. And that woman was born a long time ago. And she died on the street like an animal essentially. And then you can see a white sheet. That's another dead body there. And it's -- this is the United States. You know, this is New Orleans. And I put my hand on that woman's arm and I prayed. I said, she's going to earn a high place in heaven, you know. I'm not equipped to do this. I'm not a professional. And I'm not trained in this. I just -- all I could do was touch her arm and look at her beautiful brown skin and thank God that, you know, some help was finally coming for these people, Larry, because it's just -- it's almost unbelievable. I can't even think of words to articulate it.


KING: Harry, the time you spent in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, how did it affect you personally? How did you deal with it as a child of that city?

CONNICK: Well, you know, it just -- I had never -- none of us had ever been through anything like this before. And I think everybody put on their toughest exterior to sort of march through it as best as we could.

I remember, let's see, it must have been the Friday afterwards, NBC put on a big fundraiser on TV. And I was fine up until then. I felt like I had gone through this shock relatively unscathed. And I remember sitting in the audience at the rehearsal. And Aaron Neville was seeing that song "Louisiana" by Randy Newman. And I just completely lost it. And two of my kids were there. And they were looking at me. They had never seen me cry before. I'm not -- I don't cry very much anyway, but, oh, it was just -- it's impossible not to be affected by it. It really was one of the most devastating things I had ever seen.

You know, I've never been around that. You know, I mean in my trade, you know as an actor, you see things, but this is your home, your country. And it was just very, very difficult to witness.

KING: Did it affect you the first time you performed after it?

CONNICK: You know, I remember somebody came up to me on the street in New Orleans and said, man, you should do a record about this. And I felt so strange to hear that, because I hadn't thought about music. And the last thing I wanted to do was play music. This is so much bigger than playing the piano and singing. You know, it just seemed to trivial to me, Larry, just why would I want to -- I couldn't even -- and I've never really -- there was one song I did write, because it was in response to the people at the Convention Center. It was called "All These People" was the name of the song, which was just a -- kind of a blatant way for me to just get some of this emotion out.

But that's -- I'm not good at that. This was too heavy--

KING: Yes.

CONNICK: There's some things I can't write about, just terrible personal tragedies. And you know, I think about the vantage point that I had in comparison to some of the people who actually lived through it down here. And I don't know, it's just amazing when you think about the progress that's been made. It was a horrible time.

KING: Did Harry Connick, Jr. think New Orleans would recover from what happened five years ago, that the good times would roll again? We'll ask him when we come back.




RAY NAGIN, MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS: Every person is hereby ordered to immediately evacuate the city of New Orleans. We are facing a storm that most of us have feared.


KING: We're back with Harry Connick, Jr. It's five years later. What do you see and feel when you're there, Harry? What's it like now?

CONNICK: It's really exciting now. Things are really turning around. From what I can see, I think generally things are really improving. I think New Orleans has a long way to go, but certainly if there were lessons to be learned from Hurricane Katrina, I think the people here, the government, the citizens, everybody's learned those lessons and they seem to be moving along. It's -- you know, you couple that with the Super Bowl victory in February, it really has a positive energy down here now. It's pretty exciting. Something I didn't think I would feel in five years, that's for sure.

KING: The Saints were very important to that city, weren't they?

CONNICK: They're so important. Even when they had losing seasons, they were important. That's our team. Those are the guys that we root for. And the whole time, you know, after Katrina, I remember the first game in the Superdome, I think they played the Falcons. And I was there after Katrina, the feeling. I mean, they were the life preserver for the whole city and for anybody associated with New Orleans. They were just the lifeline, man. And the fact that they won the Super Bowl is just -- they didn't have to do that. They just had to show up and play for us, but the fact that they won it really was -- oh, my God, it really was special. Land yap they say in New Orleans. It was a real bonus.

KING: Did you know, Harry, there are many people who had doubts that New Orleans could recover? There were some who even thought whether it should be rebuilt. How did you feel about that when you heard that?

CONNICK: I didn't pay much mind to it, Larry. You know, when you walk door to door, and you go to neighborhoods, it's just too vibrant of a city. It's too intricate and complex of a city. The history here is too vast and too deep to even consider things like that.

I'm sure that there are reasonable people that had some reasonable projections about the future of New Orleans, but none of those could include not trying to rebuild the city and make it better than it was before. There's just too much passion here.

And people will say, well, New Orleans is below sea level. And the coastline is being taken away, you know, daily. And, you know, the oil spill and this and that. You're not going to change the attitude of the people here. You're not going to change my attitude. This is New Orleans. It's one of the great cities in the world. And it's going to continue to be one of the great cities. And it's going to improve.

So I can understand how people would want to impose some logical sort of thought, not that our version is illogical, but I can see how they'd want to put some math behind it and say, oh, well, maybe it won't work. But it's -- that's not going to happen. The people down here are going to prosper.

KING: Were you always optimistic? Did you always think New Orleans will come back?

CONNICK: Well, I'm an optimist. I mean, you know, you're looking at a guy who has a manager, who's created a life for me that -- I mean, I don't pay phone bills and electric bills. I have somebody to do that for me. I've been very, very lucky. And I live in this insular sort of world, you know, so everything's, you know, everything's got a silver lining as far as I'm concerned.

I mean, I play piano and sing for a living. It doesn't get any more idealistic than that. You know, I love this city. I know it's going to come back. I just -- it's just too -- it's just too -- the people are too great here.

KING: Yes.

CONNICK: You know, the spirit of the people is too strong. You know, you go to cities all over the world, Larry. You know how it is. And some cities just have that special electricity and some don't. And New Orleans is at the top of the list as far as that goes. People come from all over the world to see what this city is about. And they leave saying oh, my God, I've never seen anything like that. You're not going to say, you know, you don't have to be idealistic to feel that.

KING: Yes. there are three cities in America that have that feeling. I put New Orleans there, San Francisco, and Boston. There are no cities like New Orleans, San Francisco and Boston.


KING: There's just nothing like them. You told us, Harry, when you were--

CONNICK: Yes, I agree.

KING: --on our Katrina special five years ago, that your relatives had come through okay, your dad, your aunts, your uncles, but you also said, I'll get this right, that your personal history was destroyed. The house you grew up in was gone.


KING: That had to leave a permanent effect, didn't it?

CONNICK: Yes, it was so weird, because normally when you think hurricane, and you think a house is destroyed, you think the house was blown away. But because of the unique situation with the levees here, and the proximity of my house to the levees, the storm didn't blow the house away, the house was still intact, it was just filled with 10 feet of water. So when I finally got there to the house after the water had receded, I probably wasn't supposed to do this, I don't even know if I've told anybody about this, but I walked into the house. I hadn't been there since I was 12 years old. And I walked right into my room, I walked right into the kitchen, the living room. And it was like a time machine. Obviously everything was disheveled and, you know, mold was covering everything, but I walked -- I remember walking into the master bathroom, where my dad would get dressed for work, you know, and the way he put shaving cream on my face, you know, before I shaved. And all of these memories started coming back.

You know, the mantle in the living room where we opened Christmas presents. And it was all still there. And I would never have that opportunity unless I had gone and knocked on the door and asked to come in, which I wouldn't do anyway. It was just a profound, very, very strange feeling.

KING: Wow.

CONNICK: And since then, you know, they tore the house down because it was irreparable after the mold and things. But no, it's just -- you know, it's sad. You see your, you know, the place you grew up, and you know, be taken down like that.

KING: Harry Connick, Jr. is our special guest tonight. He's part of a new album called "Music Redeems" that benefits New Orleans. And we're going to talk about that next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can hear people yelling for help, all of them stranded, all of them hoping someone will come.

NAGIN: Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see the despair, I see the desperation.



KING: The music you just heard is from the new album "Music Redeems." It's a live recording with Harry and the Marsalis family. And it benefits the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music and Musician's village.

Tell me about this album, how it got together?

CONNICK: Well, Larry, you really should say it's, you know, the Marsalis family, you know, with Harry, because I just was a small part of this recording. It was a great event because for the people who may not know, Ellis Marsalis is one of our national treasures. He's one of the great jazz pianists alive today. And he's also one of the best educators in jazz music. He has six sons, four of whom are great musicians. And to have all of the sons and Ellis on stage at the same time, playing a concert is pretty overwhelming.

I was a student of Ellis'. And to be invited to play with these guys, these are all my heroes. To play on stage with them is just incredible. And I'm very distracted talking to you right now, because diagonally across the street is what's to become very soon the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, which until prior to today, I had only seen on blueprints. But now I'm looking at the actual building and seeing what it's going to become. And it's just unbelievable. And to be a part of this album which will raise money in turn for the center is -- I never thought it would happen. I'm just so blown away.

KING: What, Harry is the purpose of the center?

CONNICK: It's multifaceted, Larry. I remember going from New Orleans to Houston to visit the evacuees. And Branford Marsalis was in the backseat of this car with me. I should say happy birthday to Branford. He's 50 years old today. And I'll see him tomorrow in person.

But we said, what can we do to try to bring the musicians back to New Orleans? And both of us came up with an idea of putting a school together.

Well, our manager, Anne Marie Wilkins, decided it might be better to concentrate on a place for the people to live because if they didn't have a place to live, they wouldn't employ the benefits of a community center. So here we are in the middle of the musicians village. And now we've started work on this multimillion dollar facility, which will include performing space, recording facilities, classrooms, Internet access for people around the neighborhood, a toddler park. It's just this fantastic complex that is named after one of the great musicians of our time.

KING: How much of your music education was formal?

CONNICK: Probably, most of it. You know, I mean when you say formally, you mean sitting in a classroom and, you know, practicing scales and things like that?

KING: Yes. Yes.

CONNICK: Probably most of it, you know, music theory and studying classical music, doing classical piano competitions, studying with Ellis Marsalis.

But the good part of growing up in New Orleans is that a lot of it was informal, but the teachers, not teachers, the musicians I would play with were so giving and so forthcoming with knowledge and experience. You know, so even though it wasn't a formal setting, you could be very specific. Well, why did you do this? Or how do you do that? And everybody down here is aware of that's how the tradition is passed on, the older guys show the younger guys.

KING: Did you always sing, as well as play piano?

CONNICK: Well, I started singing when I was really young, probably six years old. And I would imitate Louie Armstrong. That was my favorite thing to do. And as my voice changed, when I got to be a teenager, really singing was all about meeting girls, because they certainly weren't going to be interested in a guy singing like Louie Armstrong or playing jazz music. That wasn't the most popular music. So if you could imitate Stevie Wonder, or sing some, you know, Michael Jackson songs, that was more my interest with girls.

So I started singing like that. And then as I got a little bit older, I said wait a minute, I'm a jazz musician, I need to do what I do. So the singing, I came -- I didn't study singing formally.

KING: Harry mentioned his father earlier, his father was district attorney of New Orleans.

Harry took our "LARRY KING LIVE" crew on a tour of Musicians Village. Watch.


CONNICK: Five years ago, was Hurricane Katrina. And so many people died and lost their homes. And all of these homes are the ones that we've helped build. Now we have an actual place where musicians live and will be able to teach with the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. So it's an exciting time.

Just to think that this was just a vacant lot five years ago, it's pretty unbelievable. I mean, people are living here now and establishing a whole new tradition. So it's pretty exciting for me to walk these streets.

It's almost inconceivable to mention New Orleans without music. So the fact that we have the Musicians Village now really sort of puts a firm hold on the future of this tradition.

Bob French is a great drummer. He lives in the village now. And it's the coolest thing in the world that he lives right here. He's going to be able to teach young drummers and continue the tradition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a musician thing. I mean, if they ever want to get the background for this, this is a lot of musician. Musician to musician. And they all came and they gave. Some came out and worked. And it was like, man, we got somewhere to live. Yes, because I was wiped out. When I came back, my place was gone. And we all feel like we owe a whole lot.

CONNICK: Just let me sit in once in a while.



KING: We're back with Harry Connick Jr. on this very special weekend, the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. After to Katrina a lot of New Orleans musicians disbursed around the country. Have many come back? CONNICK: I think so. I don't know the numbers, but a lot of musicians that I know moved back here. And I think it's doing pretty well. But don't quote me on that, only because I don't have access to, you know, who moved back other than the people that I know. But I think so.

KING: Is the musical scene still prominent? I mean, you can't think of New Orleans without music.

CONNICK: Oh, it's very prominent. There are musicians who have gone on to do national and international things and there's a huge local music scene here. You could come to New Orleans and basically go hear music every night in a different place, a different venue, hear different artists. There's a ton of music here.

In fact, the musicians village, 80 percent of the people living here are musicians and their families. To answer the previous question, I think a lot of the musicians have come back.

KING: The BP oil spill in the Gulf still a major problem; how big a set back for the city as you see it?

CONNICK: Larry, I don't know much about it. All I know -- my efforts are really focused on the musicians village. I don't know how people in politics can multitask like that. I mean, I'm so involved with what's going on here with the Center for Music, I don't have the skill nor the knowledge to -- I don't know anything about the BP oil spill other than what I read in the paper and see on the news.

So I don't know how that's going to affect things. I have heard some things about where some money might go to, you know, come back into the community, but I'm not the guy to ask about that.

KING: We went down to New Orleans to do a special with Brad Pitt. Are you surprised and excited about how involved he has gotten with that city?

CONNICK: I think it's great. I remember right after the storm when I heard about his involvement, I wrote him a note. I don't know if he ever got it. I wrote him to thank him for his commitment. Let's face it, the guy is very well known and well liked. And we need all the help we can get, whether it's Brad Pitt or somebody hammering nails that you never heard of.

I think the fact that he's really committed to it -- I mean, five years later, the guy's down here all the time, doing a great job, I think he's a god send. And I hope I can meet him and shake his hand one day and thank him in person.

KING: It shouldn't be hard, Harry.

CONNICK: I met him once a long time ago.

KING: Where do you live?

CONNICK: I live in Connecticut now. I moved up to New York in '86 and now -- because it's close to New York and I travel in and out of New York so much, it seemed to be a good place to be. And I have three children and I like the schools up there. And I kind of got stuck there. All three of my girls want to move back to New Orleans. So I think at some point we're going to end up back down here for sure.

KING: All right, let's touch a few other bases. What's the deal, the possibility -- everybody's talking about it -- you may be a judge on "American Idol" I know they voted you the best celebrity host ever to be involved in that show. Ryan Seacrest said that nobody cooperated more with all the talent people than Harry Connick. Are you going to be a judge?

CONNICK: They asked me if I wanted to be, and it looks like fun. There just hasn't really been a whole lot of discussion about it. I think they have -- it's a huge business and they have a lot of sorting out to do. So I haven't really been in contact with them much. There have been some discussions about it, but nothing that would indicate that anything's going to go forward.

But, you know, we'll see when it happens. I had a great time on the show. And I like that. And that goes back to actually being with Ellis Marsalis. He's such a great mentor. And there were infinite clinics and master classes that I went to. I like that. I think when you're asked to be a mentor, you're supposed to spend time with the contestants or the people in the classroom and show them what you know. I just like that, I like that environment. So it was a breeze doing "American Idol" because that's what I grew up doing.

KING: And in that regard, I'm going to ask you about mentoring right after these words, don't go away.


KING: The winner of Idol's Season nine was Lee DeWyze. He sang Sinatra's "That's Life." Harry was a celebrity mentor, as mentioned, on Idol earlier this year. He coached the contestants on the music of Sinatra. You arranged their songs and accompanied them. We know what they took away from it. What did you take away from the experience?

CONNICK: I just had a great time. I thought it was really fun, you know? It's really fun -- you know what the strangest part was for me, Larry? Was they had rehearsal -- and you know when there's somebody on stage and they have the people seated in the audience, but there's all those kids kind of standing in front of the stage and they dance. When I came out to sing, I sang that song "And I Love Her" by the Beatles.

I remember they had these kids in there for rehearsal. I guess they needed to see it with cameras. And these kids are so ready to jump up and down in unison and scream. And when I started to sing, I don't know if they had ever heard acoustic music before. I don't know if they had ever heard a saxophone or upright base or drums, because they were looking at me like, this guy is from outer space. So that was the most unusual part, man. It was really funny. KING: Lady Gaga performed on that same show with you. Some people were hoping that you would do a duet. That didn't happen. What do you think of her?

CONNICK: I think she's extremely creative. I mean clearly, you know, she loves to make art, you know. And I think that's something we have in common. You know, I would love to sing something with her. I know my kids would love it probably more than I would. They think she's just terrific. And you know, she's very, very interesting. And I like that.

I also like the fact that, from what I have heard, she's had classical training. So it's more than a creative spirit. I think she's got some chops behind there to sort of back it up and that's always nice to know.

KING: She was a great guest on this show by the way. You recently told "USA Today" that you decided building a relationship with a live audience is a lot like going on a date. You have been married for 16 years. You ever remember dating?

CONNICK: It's hard -- it's hard to remember. I have been with my wife for 20 years now. But I do remember that it's really good to listen, you know, and it's really not a good idea to talk about yourself the whole time. And I guess how that translates on to stage is you kind of -- I mean, you know how it is, man. I mean, you're the best there is at listening to people and if they go off track, you sort of -- you can throw the note cards away and have an organic conversation with people. Yes, and that's how I like to perform.

What are you going to do if you're singing a song, a series of songs and you feel like the people want to hear a ballad and you're on this program set list and you got a fast song? I don't like that constraint, I like to be able to go wherever it goes, you know?

KING: Harry Connick Jr., he earned a Tony nomination for "Pajama Game." He recently did an 11 performance concert on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theater. He's writing words and music for a musical to be directed by George C. Wolfe. We'll talk about movies and Harry Connick in some of our remaining moments. There are only two coming up. Back with Harry Connick Jr. in New Orleans when we come back.



KING: We're back with Harry Connick Jr. The reports are you're doing a movie with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd called "Dolphin Tail," a true story about a dolphin who loses her tail. Is that true? Are you doing the film?

CONNICK JR: I am. We go down -- I think it starts shooting right around October 1st. And I know Ashley, I have had a chance to work with her before. She's lovely and so talented. And I'm so excited I'm working with Morgan Freeman. It automatically sort of raises your cachet when you say you're working with someone like that. It vicariously sort of makes you a better actor, you know. Even though I haven't even met the guy yet, I'm a better actor because I'm going to work with him.

KING: Who do you play?

CONNICK: I play a marine veterinarian who is in charge of unfortunately -- it's a true story, Larry. This dolphin gets caught in a net and they have to amputate it's tail -- or it's fluke technically. And eventually the dolphin receives a prosthetic fluke and is alive today in Clearwater, Florida. It's really kind of inspiring, sweet movie. I'm excited about it.

KING: You co-starred in a movie with Sandra Bullock, "Hope Floats" some years back. And she's become a great supporter of New Orleans. What do you think about what she's gone through?

CONNICK: She sure has. You know, I'm sorry that she's -- I think of Sandy as -- she's an incredible woman. And she doesn't need my prayers or my -- she's so strong. I pray for her and I send her emails and tell her I love her and I hope she's doing well. That woman is one of the fiercest, strongest, most dedicated people I know.

And it sucks, man. It really -- let's put it this way, if she were my wife, I would be on my knees thanking God that I had a woman like that. That's just me. You know what I'm saying? Everybody's different, but I know her pretty well and I know I would be -- like my wife now, man, I wouldn't screw that up for all the money in the world or for anything. This means a lot. You know, it's -- it's a pretty serious commitment.

Again, I'm not passing judgment on anybody, Larry. I don't want to come off like I'm doing that. I just know how great she is. Whoever ends up with her for good is going to be one lucky son of a gun. He really is. I know her son is -- doesn't even know how lucky he is.

KING: Your three daughters, they were pretty young when Katrina hit. Do they ask about it? Do you talk about it a lot with them?

CONNICK: We talk about it a little bit. My oldest is 14. I have one who is going to be 13. I got my youngest one who is eight. She is with me now. Her name is Charlotte. In fact, she's sitting around here somewhere. I say, Charlotte, this is the musician's village that you hear me talking about. She's like, I know. I know where we are.

So they hear about it. It comes up in conversation a lot. They're pretty aware of it. My older two were here, helping build some of the houses. And they're New Orleans' freaks. They tell people that they were born in New Orleans even though they were born in Connecticut. They're die hard Saints' fans. You know, I mean like when the Saints win games, they wear the jerseys to school. They are -- they're basically New Orleanians. They're going to help pass that tradition right along.

KING: Did you want a son? CONNICK: You know, I -- I guess. I mean, like I have a lot of friends who have sons and I can see the dynamic is different when I'm with boys than it is with girls.

KING: Oh, yeah.

CONNICK: I know the girl thing real -- well, I think I do. I'm pretty used to having girls around. But there's something a little bit different about boys. But, man, I'm so lucky, I don't -- you know, I'll borrow one when I need one, one of my buddies. I'll take them fishing or something. I don't need to have one. I'll use them for a while.

KING: We'll be back for a remaining moment with Harry Connick Jr. And then a special moment with Dr. Maya Angelou. Don't go away.



CROWD: We want help! We want help!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw dead bodies. People are dying there at the convention center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What these people are saying basically is give us some water, give us some food. Don't leave us here to die.


KING: Back with our remaining moments. Don't go away. We're going to repeat something with Dr. Angelou. Harry, do you worry -- this is hurricane season -- about another one coming?

CONNICK: I've been worrying about it since 2006. Fortunately, New Orleans has gone pretty unscathed. Yeah, I worry about it. Every August, I start thinking, oh, my god, please let another year go by. So I hope they have it together. I really do. This is a scary time of year.

KING: When do you go down -- do you go down and start filming next month?

CONNICK: I'm sorry, go down filming, you say?

KING: Yeah. Your new movie, that's next month, right?

CONNICK: Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We go down to -- we have a few more dates on the west coast in part of my tour that's almost over. And then I go down to Clearwater, Florida, for about three months to shoot the movie, with Morg. That's what we call him in the biz.

KING: Morg, in the biz. What are you doing out here on the west coast?

CONNICK: We're doing -- we're playing up in Seattle at that St. Michel Winery. We're playing a couple of dates. We're playing in Reno, all sort of on the west coast, sort of mid September through the end of September.

KING: Never get tired of it, do you?

CONNICK: Oh, man. You know how it is. I mean, man, it's -- I just love it! I love it so much. It's so much fun to go out there. When I was on Broadway, we were doing show after show after show. We were doing six of them a week, two and a half, three hours a show. As soon as it would end, I would say is it time for the next one? Maybe I'll burn out one day, but I haven't yet.

KING: Harry, you're the best. Thanks, Harry.

CONNICK: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Harry Connick Jr. We're going to leave you tonight with something special. Dr. Maya Angelou, poet, teacher, best selling author, activist, one of the most inspirational voices in American literature. On September 9th, 2005, she honored us with her reflections on Hurricane Katrina. Her words are as true today as they were five years ago. "AC 360" is coming up next. But first, here is Dr. Angelou.


MAYA ANGELOU, POET: When land became water and water begin to think it was god, consuming lives here, leaving lives there, swallowing buildings, devouring cities, intoxicated with its power, mighty power and the American people were tested.

As a result of our tumultuous, there abides in the American psyche an idea so powerful it ennobles us and lifts us high above the problems which beset us. It can, in fact, evict fear. It can rest despair from its lodging.

Simply put, the idea is, yes, I can. I am an American and, yes, I can. I can overcome. The one time slave says, I have proved and am proving that I can overcome slavery. The one-time slave owner says I have proved and I am proving that I can overcome slavery.

The north then say I have proved and am still proving that I can overcome the Civil War. The south can say I have proved and I am still proving that I can overcome the Civil War.

With crime rampant in our streets, the American can say our masses have not turned into masses of criminals. Even with blissful peace, Americans can say we have not been lulled into a contented laziness.

The song that was so needed 100 years ago when it was written, so needed 50 years ago when it was used in the Civil Rights Movement, is of great use to us these days while we are still reeling from the onslaught of a violent hurricane. The song is "We Shall Overcome." We shall overcome. We shall overcome, I pray. Deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome. Let us all pray and work at it. I am Maya Angelou and I am an American.