Harry Connick Jr. welcomed to the White House

WASHINGTON – Harry Connick Jr. told students Sunday that music can get people through the darkest times — even a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, which devastated his hometown, New Orleans, in 2005.

The Grammy-winning composer and singer was welcomed to the White House by first lady Michelle Obama, who invited him to perform for members of a Washington elementary school glee club.

Connick invited one of the children to join him and his band onstage and help sing ”When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Mrs. Obama told the children that just as singing in their club makes them happy, music can help lift the spirits of a city like New Orleans.

”These guys aren’t just playing music and earning money and performing, but they’re also community leaders, too,” Mrs. Obama said. ”Even if you can sing and dance, the question is: What do you give back?”

Connick co-founded the Musicians’ Village in New Orleans, which helped provide housing for displaced musicians after Katrina. Some of the musicians who performed with Connick on Sunday live in the village.

Connick was to perform Sunday night as part of the National Governors Association’s Governor’s Ball.

Rice to play for benefit


SALIDA, Calif. – Officials with a California nonprofit group say former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has agreed to play the piano at a benefit concert to raise funds for a local school.

The Salida Performing Arts Foundation said the concert at a private residence March 27 will also include cellist Michael Reynolds and tenor Dennis McNeil.

Salida Performing Arts Foundation co-founder Brad Friley said he hopes to use the money to purchase additional violins for fourth-graders at Salida’s Sisk Elementary School.

Rice, who was secretary of state under President George W. Bush, is an accomplished pianist. She is currently a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Actor missing for a week


LOS ANGELES – Andrew Koenig, the actor who played Richard ”Boner” Stabone to Kirk Cameron’s Mike Seaver in more than two dozen late-1980s episodes on the sitcom ”Growing Pains,” has been missing for a week, and family, friends and the police are concerned.

His sister, Danielle Koenig, said he was last seen Feb. 14 in Vancouver, where he was visiting friends, Zap2It reports. He was to have flown out Feb. 16 but didn’t make the flight.

He had been staying with Jenny Magenta, a burlesque dancer, since Feb. 10. She’s been posting on her personal Facebook page since Friday about his disappearance, and has commented on Twitter as well.

Celebrities, according to an earlier Zap2It article, including Alyssa Milano and Sarah Silverman, have been on Twitter and on blogs, spreading the word.

Andrew’s parents, Walter and Judy Koenig, told ”Entertainment Tonight” on Sunday they’d last heard from him Feb. 9, and Judy said his phone had received a text from a friend Feb. 16 in the Stanley Park area of Vancouver. (Walter is best known as ”Star Trek’s” Pavel Chekhov.)

Bigelow wins best director


LONDON – Iraq war drama ”The Hurt Locker” has won six prizes, including best picture, at the British Academy Film Awards.

Kathryn Bigelow took the best director prize for the film, beating nominees that included her former husband, ”Avatar” director James Cameron.

”The Hurt Locker” also won prizes for original screenplay, cinematography, editing and sound. ”Avatar” picked up awards for production design and visual effects.

”Avatar” and ”The Hurt Locker” both went into Sunday’s awards with nominations in eight categories, including best picture.







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