New 'American Idol' judge Harry Connick Jr. glad to supply Christmas sounds again

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Before his first round as a full-fledged  "American Idol" judge begins, Harry Connick Jr. is happy to be making his own musical mark again as Christmas nears.

Joining returnees Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban at the table when the FOX contest starts its 13th season Wednesday, Jan. 18, the singer is enjoying plenty of holiday-season play. His duet with country icon Willie Nelson -- "When I'm Home," from their new-to-video movie "Angels Sing" -- is being heard, as well as Connick's seasonal standard "When My Heart Finds Christmas," which marks its 20th anniversary this year.

"It's nice," Connick tells Zap2it. "I did that movie with Willie, and we sort of wrote that tune on the spur of the moment. For me, it was for selfish reasons; I'm on it just to have made a recording with him. He's a great talent and a legend, so that was pretty cool for me."

Having taped the initial audition episodes of "Idol," Connick is back on a movie set, filming "Dolphin Tale 2" in Florida. Still, he maintains music remains "the centerpiece of what I do. That's what I came to the dance with. I put out two albums this year ( 'Smokey Mary' and 'Every Man Should Know') and toured in support of them, and I relish thinking about the next time I go back in the studio.

"So many things have grown from my introduction into the business as a piano player and a singer, it never stops. There's a special feeling about recording and touring that you just don't get anywhere else, though, and that's not going anyplace for me."
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