Harry Connick Jr. was home in New Orleans on Thursday, September 20, to promote cancer prevention. Connick and his wife, Jill Goodacre, are spokespersons for The New 50 campaign and Cologuard, a product that tests for colon cancer.
The Connicks hosted a New 50 event at the House of Blues on Thursday evening after speaking to media organizations at the Roosevelt Hotel on Thursday afternoon.
Jill Connick is a breast cancer survivor. Harry Connick turned 50 last year, the recommended age for colon-cancer screening for men and women of average risk. Ninety-percent of colon cancers can be treated if detected early.
“Jill has always run our household and health is paramount,” Connick said as the couple sat together in a Roosevelt Hotel ballroom. “Jill was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. If it weren’t for her belief in early detection, we might have been looking at a different outcome.”
Nationally, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women combined. Ironically, colon cancer is the most preventable but least prevented form of cancer.
Louisiana fares poorly in health statistics. In 2017, the state ranked 46 in cancer deaths; 46 in death due to heart disease and stroke; 46 in percentage of obese adults; and 42 in percentage of adults with diabetes.
The state’s daunting health statistics also apply to colon cancer screenings. One-third of adults 50 and older in Louisiana do not get the recommended screenings for colon cancer.
“I’m thinking we’ve got to do a little bit better than that,” Connick said. “So, I’m glad that Jill and I can help spread the message.”
New Orleans was the third stop for the Connicks’ six-city The New 50 tour.
“We didn’t set up the cities, but it’s a no brainer for us to come here,” Connick said. “Because I’m from here and Jill’s so familiar with the city and we know the people here.”
Response to their New 50 appearances has been a bit different from his concerts, Connick said.
“It’s not like standing ovations and spotlights and things like that,” he said. “But you know what? I get a sense of gratification that is very specific and, in some ways, outweighs the other experiences I’ve had stage.”
The New 50 tour follows Connick’s recent New Orleans Tricentennial Tour dates. The Tricentennial Tour continues with October shows in Paris and London as well as a few more U.S. dates to be announced. In honor of Connick’s hometown, the Tricentennial Tour features more New Orleans material than his usual shows.
“It’s all about celebrating New Orleans,” he said. “And it changes every night. We just played at the Hollywood Bowl. There’s a curfew there, so, at 10:30 they were like, ‘You gotta get off the stage!’ We were just getting warmed up. We’re having so much. And I think so much of what the audience feels follows what we feel.”
In Connick music news, he’s planning to make a new album.
“I’m circling around what that’s going to be,” he said. “Hopefully, sooner rather than later, I’ll get to that. And we’re working on a whole bunch of stuff, television and things like that. I can’t talk about that yet, but we’re working hard. It’s one of those times in my career where a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff is going on, before the next wave comes out. It’s exciting.”