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USAF 'Rhythm in Blue' welcomes Harry Connick Jr., band

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kayla Newman
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band 'Rhythm in Blue' jazz ensemble hosted Harry Connick Jr. and his band at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, Feb. 23, 2015.

Connick Jr., a current judge on the television show American Idol, said he visited with the Airmen musicians to extend his appreciation and show support for the military.

"In particular, [Connick Jr.] wanted to show his appreciation and support for Airmen, U.S. Army Soldiers and U.S. Navy Sailors who use music to inspire troops, honor the veterans and recruit," said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Justin Lewis, HOAB action officer. "Just like all of our Airmen, bandsmen need to keep themselves sharp technically, and having a jazz expert like [Connick Jr.] come out and give some pointers is a great form of on-the-job training for our Airmen."

Connick Jr., a New Orleans, Louisiana, native, became a successful jazz musician at an early age and later became involved in acting. He is well-known for the soundtrack to the movie "When Harry Met Sally," and acting in several films such as "Memphis Belle" and "Independence Day." Connick Jr., has sold over 28 million albums worldwide and is ranked among the top 60 male artists, according to the U.S. Recording Industry Association of America. In addition, he won three Grammy Awards and two Emmy Awards for his work.

"Harry Connick Jr. has been such an incredible inspiration to so many of us for so long," said Capt. Mike Hoerber, HOAB band commander. "To be the level of musician he is and to come speak with us, share his story and inspire us means a lot. Part of our job as military musicians is to honor, inspire and recruit for the Air Force and sometimes we need a bit of inspiration too."

During his visit, Connick Jr., listened and gave constructive critiques to the "Rhythm in Blue" members  on their performance. Later, Connick Jr., answered questions from the audience and then performed with his band.

Following his meeting with the HOAB members, Connick Jr. and his band received a tour of an F-22 Raptor from the 1st Fighter Wing.

"This has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. I have the chance to meet some incredible service men and women and see an incredible piece of machinery in the F-22," said Connick Jr. "I got to spend a lot of time with some great musicians and it has been a jammed-pack day of inspiration. What this did was remind me of how lucky I am to be an American and to feel safe at night because of the dedicated service that all of these men and women provide."