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Legendary Entertainer Harry Connick Jr. Headlines Commencement 2016 at Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola press release - May 21, 2016

Native son and co-founder of Musicians’ Village returns home to New Orleans to receive honorary doctorate of music, deliver speech at Commencement 2016

Legendary entertainer Harry Connick Jr. addressed graduates of Loyola University New Orleans at Loyola’s Commencement 2016, held Saturday, May 21, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Connick returned to his beloved hometown to receive an honorary doctor of music from Loyola University New Orleans, the only one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. to boast a College of Music and Fine Arts. CMFA includes Loyola’s School of Music, a conservatory in which professional musicians are trained in a rich academic environment, and where students can roam the halls and converse with Grammy Award winners and internationally renowned musicians, and Loyola’s acclaimed Film and Music Industry Studies Department, which prepares aspiring musicians, singers, performers, directors, producers, crafts, and industry executives for entrepreneurial success in the creative professions.

Recognized for his live and recorded musical performances and for his achievements on screens large and small, as well as on the Broadway stage, Harry Connick Jr. has exemplified excellence in every aspect of the entertainment world.

“Harry Connick Jr. has done so much to contribute to the renaissance of our city and promote the musical heritage of New Orleans, and we are proud to have the chance to honor him in his hometown,” said Loyola University New Orleans President the Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D. “Given Harry’s fascinating personal story and astounding international career, we know that our students welcome his advice and insights as they ‘go forth and set the world on fire.’”

As their commencement speaker, the musician both regaled crowds and drew upon his multifaceted career and his Catholic upbringing as he shared advice for a meaningful and successful life beyond graduation.

Connick cited the philosophies of Pope Francis, the Jesuits and St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order. With self-deprecating humor, he also drew upon his career as an musician, actor, and entertainer, referencing family life, his New Orleans upbringing and past work with Dolphin Tale, Will and Grace and American Idol.

“I can hold my head high because you and I have something in common: it may have taken me 30 years longer than you, but all of us get degrees from Loyola today,” Connick said to a round of applause.

A native son of New Orleans, Connick received an honorary doctor of music degree and delivered a commencement address to more than 750 graduates and a crowd estimated at more than 8,000.

His list of achievements includes 30 album releases, three Grammy awards, two Emmy Awards, and two Tony nominations. On Sept. 12, 2016, the internationally celebrated singer, musician, and actor will expand his scintillating career by debuting a new, nationally syndicated daytime entertainment show, “Harry.”

He continues his philanthropy work related to Musicians’ Village in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, which he founded together with fellow New Orleans native and musician Branford Marsalis in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Village and its centerpiece, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, provide homes for musicians and other displaced citizens, a community center with a performance hall, a recording studio, and after-school facilities for children. Connick’s contributions to the post-Katrina recovery effort and preservation of music in New Orleans have been widely recognized.

Like the graduates Connick addressed, the “American Idol” judge is also Jesuit Educated. Connick is a graduate of Jesuit High School of New Orleans and began his academic career at Loyola University New Orleans, where he studied music briefly before heading to New York to pursue his career.

“If you work hard and pay attention to the smallest details of your work, your relationships, your faith, you’ll find that over time you will have created a lot of great things – things of worth, things of substance and quality.” Connick said.

In true New Orleans fashion, Loyola capped off Commencement 2016 with a traditional second line celebration led by the Kinfolk Brass Band.

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