Harry Connick, Jr. News

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis join forces to raise funds for the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music

Publication: Nola.com
Author: Erika Goldring
Date: February 5, 2014

It was a daytime luncheon and concert, unusual for the Civic Theatre, but the crowds were just as enthused to be there. It was a benefit for the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, located in the Musicians’ Village in the city’s Upper Ninth Ward. The Village was founded by native New Orleanians Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, and constructed by Habitat for Humanity, as affordable housing for musicians and to create a sense of shared community.

So whom else would the Center ask, other than Connick and Marsalis, to help raise funds! The concert, on Tuesday (Feb. 4), not only featured performances from Connick — now on TV every Wednesday and Thursday nights for “American Idol” — as well as from Branford Marsalis (his father is Ellis Marsalis), Stephen Walker, Dewey Sampson, Andrew Baham and Ricky Sebastian and students from the Center, among others. Read more »

Harry Connick, Jr., Branford Marsalis showcase young musicians

Publication: WWLTV.com
Reporter: Bill Capo
Date: February 4, 2014

NEW ORLEANS — Performing with music legends Harry Connick, Junior and Branford Marsalis was unforgettable for two young musicians.

Two years after opening, the Ellis Marsalis Center in the Habitat For Humanity Musicians Village is providing music education to 200 students, ages 7 to 18.

I think it has exceeded what we thought,” said Harry Connick, Jr. “I mean when Branford and I thought about this, it was just kind of a vague concept.”

The idea that you have 7- and 8-year-old kids playing clarinet and playing violin and playing piano and playing in orchestras,” added Branford Marsalis.

I think it is kind of beyond people’s expectations, at least that’s the way parents communicate to me,” said Ellis Marsalis Center Executive Director Michele Jean-Pierre.

Connick and Branford Marsalis remain committed to New Orleans. They’re also looking at the future, especially where music is concerned.

If they don’t support the center, they basically are not supporting the future generations of musicians that will make New Orleans what it is,” Connick said. Read more »

Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis lead tribute to the late Bob French

Publication: The Times-Picayune
Author: Keith Spera
Date: December 5, 2012

Among other, sometimes less flattering designations, Bob French was considered the unofficial mayor of the Musicians’ Village. In November, he also became the first of its residents to die.

On the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 4, Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis and their manager, Ann Marie Wilkins, the trio who championed the construction of the Musicians’ Village after Hurricane Katrina, hosted a private memorial concert for French, the longtime leader and drummer of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band and an especially colorful WWOZ-FM deejay.

Over the decades, French mentored scores of young musicians, including Connick and Marsalis. After their success and fame had far surpassed that of their mentor, they returned the favor. Read more »

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis explore their family trees on PBS' 'Finding Your Roots'

Publication: Nola.com
Author: Dave Walker
Date: March 25, 2012

The genealogy surprises revealed to Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., in the latest installment of Gates’ “Finding Your Roots” series for PBS are so much fun they could count as story spoilers. So, if you want those surprises preserved, feel free to now skip ahead a few paragraphs knowing that a couple of New Orleans’ favorite sons meet some great-great-greats they couldn’t have imagined having. Spoilers a-comin’.

The episode airs at 7 p.m. Sunday (March 25), followed by a second hour in which Gates does similar digging for Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

The Marsalis musical dynasty, it turns out, is the product of the mid-1800s union of a German immigrant and a free woman of color.

The couple couldn’t marry, and their relationship – which produced seven children – was a statistical rarity.

“They had a relationship of mutuality and love and that kept them together, and that’s really neat,” Gates said during a recent phone interview. “Here’s something that will never be lost now for the Marsalis family, that they’re descended from this white man who defied all the common prejudices of the time. He gets off the boat and the first thing he sees is this beautiful free Negro woman, and boom they have seven children. Can you imagine writing home? Read more »

Stars search for their roots on PBS series

Publication: Lansing State Journal
Author: Mike Hughes
Date: March 24, 2012

Decades ago, the Marsalis kids had their notion of fun.

Branford, 13, and Wynton, 12, would find white Marsalis families in Summit, Miss.

“We’d knock on the door and say, ‘We’re doing our family tree and I think we’re related,’” Branford Marsalis recalled semi-sheepishly, “ just to watch them go, ‘Oh no, there must some mistake!’”

In truth, he knew they weren’t related to these people – “we were just being jerks” – but he also knew there were whites somewhere on the family tree. “In the hot Louisiana sun, when I … saw little blond hairs on my arm, I thought, ‘Ahh, that’s not supposed to happen.’”

The search for answers is at the core of “Finding Your Roots,” Henry Louis Gates’ new PBS series. It reflects something that has drawn Gates since the 1960 funeral of his grandfather. Read more »