NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Grammy-winning jazz singer Harry Connick Jr. is returning to his hometown for the screening of a television show that pays tribute to the music of Louisiana.
The show, a Louisiana Public Broadcasting special called "Sunshine by the Stars: Celebrating Louisiana Music," is a mix of music, interviews and video snapshots of Louisiana's economic drivers, including tourism, and oil and gas. It includes renditions of "You Are My Sunshine" by Connick, Tim McGraw, Irma Thomas, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Guy and others.
The show premieres on LPB stations on Dec. 9 and will be available to PBS affiliates nationwide next year.
An invitation-only screening is planned Wednesday at the Old U.S. Mint in the French Quarter. It will precede a gala being attended by several of the film's participants.
Plans for the project were announced earlier this year by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who said the venture was being paid for by BP PLC.
After its massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, BP gave tourism officials in Louisiana $30 million to help the state win tourists back. Funding for production of "Sunshine by the Stars" and its promotion — which cost about $1 million in all — came on top of that money, said Jacques Berry, a spokesman for the lieutenant governor.
Dardenne called the show a celebration of the state's rich musical history on the heels of the Louisiana bicentennial. He said music and food are vital to the state's culture and tourism — one of four industries that will be featured in the TV show as shaping Louisiana's economy and history. The other industries to be highlighted are agriculture, oil and gas, and the Mississippi River and its port system.
The show is one of two LPB projects Connick took part in this year. The crooner and actor also narrated a bicentennial documentary called "Louisiana: 200 Years of Statehood," which aired this past summer.