Harry Connick Jr: Talks “Dolphin Tale 2,” “American Idol” & Gospel Singer Nikki Ross

New Orleans-bred jazz crooner Harry Connick Jr. is a man of many talents – singer, musician, actor and reality TV judge to name a few.

The 46-year-old talent finds himself back at the box office this Friday (Sept. 12) in his first sequel, the follow-up to successful 2011 film “Dolphin Tale 2.” traveled to Clearwater Beach, Florida where “Dolphin Tale 2” was shot to interview Connick at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort about his role in the film, his work on “American Idol” and some idol chatter about his favorite singers.

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Harry Connick Jr.

Working on “Dolphin Tale 2” had you back in the Tampa area in Clearwater Beach. How was it returning here again?

It is a great part of the world. Other than performing and doing the film, it seems like a lot of my life has been spent in this part of the world.

This movie is your first sequel. What made you agree to return?

This is the best filming experience I’ve ever had. It was just great. People really like it. What’s interesting to me, as you go through your career in the entertainment business, new people are being born and growing up and becoming teenagers and young adults, and a lot of the people who came to know me through “Dolphin Tale” have no idea I do anything else. It’s cool.

This movie speaks to determination, overcoming adversity and beating the odds. How is it that we’re able to learn these lessons from a dolphin?

There’s something about Winter, she’s not a human being so she doesn’t think about things the way we do, but there’s inspiration about a creator that has no mind in the way that we know it and these are the cards that are dealt to her. Life is really like that, there are certain things that are wonderful about life and certain things that are not wonderful. You have to accept things with grace and dignity and move through them. That’s something you’re reminded of when you see Winter. I call her DWI – Deal With It!

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Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Harry Connick Jr & Morgan Freeman in “Dolphin Tale 2”

Do you pinpoint a time to just act and just do music or does it matter?

I’m still making records and touring and stuff, it’s all about if you happen to cross somebody’s path in a certain way. “Dolphin Tale” reached a lot of people and maybe those people don’t go see me on tour, buy my records or watch me on TV or anything like that. I’m not doing any more acting than I was 20-years ago, but it kind of ebbs and flows in regards to how people are introduced to you.

You released two CDs in 2013. Are you working on new music now?

Working on a new record. Haven’t gone in the studio yet but putting ideas together and stuff.

There were people who weren’t sure a jazz artist had the personality to pop at the “American Idol” judges table. But now, everyone is saying you stole the show last season. How’s “Idol” been for you?

It was great.  I think no matter what genre of music you play, when you wrap up a couple years of experience and you have your own point of view, no matter who it is coming in front of you – whether it’s a pop artist, a country artist or whatever – it’s not difficult to critique and help shape the young performers. Let’s face it, I’ve been here for a while and I’ve done it for a while and have a lot of experience. I like the show and always have been a huge fan of the show. Basically, the job is sitting there listening to music and telling people what you think about it. What’s not to like. I loved it. It was really fun.[divider]

Nikki Ross

Connick and I began to have some offline discussion about his favorite vocalist, Gospel phenom Kim Burrell and I suggested he check out soul singer Avery Sunshine. The Grammy winner then asked me: “Are you hip to Nikki Ross?” “I love Nicci Ross! Nicci needs a record deal!”

Connick: “That is one of the greatest mysteries of this world. She’s one of the greatest vocalists if ever. She’s like a genius!”

Connick is a genius too! Be sure to catch “Dolphin Tale 2” in stores this Friday.

Nathan Gamble, dolphin Winter & Harry Connick Jr. in “Dolphin Tale 2”

VIDEO: Watch the trailer for “Dolphin Tale 2” below.

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