This Sunday night at 8:00PM ET/PT CBS presents United We Sing: A GRAMMY Tribute To The Unsung Heroes. Hosted by Harry Connick Jr. and Georgia Connick, this special will see father and daughter driving from Connecticut to New Orleans in an RV showcasing some of America’s unsung heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The special will also feature musical performances and appearances from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt and Queen Latifah.
CBS Local’s Matt Weiss spoke to Georgia and Harry about this Sunday’s special and what it was like driving and working together.
MW: Harry, Georgia, nice to talk to you today. How have you both been doing?
HCJ: You too, good, good, real good.
GC: Doing well, Matt!
MW: Excited to talk to you both today about United We Sing: A Grammy Tribute To The Unsung Heroes. The special is awesome, helping people out, interacting with some folks going through a tough time. How exactly did this come about?
HCJ: This special came about because Georgia and I felt that we wanted to do something to acknowledge essential workers, people that are doing everyday jobs but in particular right now, jobs that are truly heroic. Georgia is a filmmaker and we decided that we wanted to take a road trip from Connecticut all the way down to New Orleans and meet these folks along the way and film it and to make a documentary.
When we pitched the idea to CBS, CBS said what do you think about us trailing you filming and Georgia filming me. We said that sounds like a lot of fun. That’s how it came about. The whole concept was to not only for us to thank the essential workers but to introduce them via our iPad to celebrity friends like Sandra Bullock, Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, Queen Latifah, Jamie Foxx. We would turn the iPad toward these folks and these celebrity friends would thank them too. It was just a really heartwarming and humbling experience for both of us.
MW: Very cool. Georgia you spent a lot of time in the RV with your dad traveling around the country, what was that like for you?
GC: It was so much fun. I’m obsessed with being on the RV. I really didn’t want it to end. There’s so much that comes along with that. Getting a lot of alone time with my dad and just hanging out and meeting new people along the way; it was amazing.
MW: Awesome. Harry, you talked about getting your celebrity friends to pitch in as well. I’m sure there were lots of moments throughout the trip, but are there any in particular that really stick out to you that you’ll take moving forward?
HCJ: There were so many great experiences and moving experiences for Georgia and me, but one of the ones that stands out was a teacher, her name was Aysha in Newark NJ. She is so amazing because a lot of the children in these underserved communities are not able to do online learning because either they don’t have computers, or they don’t have Internet access.
What Aysha would do for her 2nd graders, she calls them scholars she doesn’t even call them student, she goes to each of their homes and gives them their homework and helps them every single day. We surprised her with Queen Latifah. She was a huge Queen Latifah fan and just the whole thing was so wonderful for us to acknowledge people like Aysha and listen to them sort of dismiss what they do, as well this is just what we do. It’s heroic and we could not get through our daily lives without these people.
MW: Absolutely. It really shines a light on the people who should have been getting a light shone on them in regular society anyway. It’s a shame that it takes something like this to highlight folks like that.
HCJ: Sometimes things that need to be looked at carefully don’t get looked at until a tragedy happens. You can’t discount all of the bad things that happened as a result of tragedies, but you can certainly highlight the silver linings. If these folks are getting attention now, then we’re happy.
MW: Absolutely. Georgia, I know you’re a filmmaker so you’re not new to this whole process but what was it like shooting your dad in particular? Were there any funny stories that came out of that?
GC: Well, I’ve shot my dad multiple times. I mean years probably. It’s always so much fun just because he’s my dad and he’s hilarious, so I love shooting him. It’s always been so much fun for me, so it’s hard to even pick one story. There are a lot of funny ones in the special, very funny.
HCJ: My favorite part of Georgia filming me is, normally because Georgia’s freelance so she works with tons of people and she’s extremely professional, but I know how to get a laugh. A lot of times in this special I’ll do something and I know she’s gonna crack up and she’s behind the camera and you hear this laugh and it just kills me.
GC: [Laughs] I can’t hold it.
HCJ: Yeah, I know that. I love that. Those are my favorite parts because she’s so professional, but I know how to break her down so it’s pretty funny.
MW: Always nice to get a few laughs in while you’re working. Now a lot is going on in the world right now of course and this special gives people not only a chance to see some really uplifting images, but also just gives people a chance to disconnect for a bit, turn the TV on and put everything else aside. What does that mean to each of you be able to put out some new content, some entertainment for people at a time when they really need it?
HCJ: For me, the whole idea of this special was to provide some diversion for people. You turn on any channel 24 hours a day and you’re going to get incredibly heavy, necessary news and information. This is not what that is.
We think it’s necessary, but we didn’t feel like we needed to contribute to the already huge amount of doom and gloom out there. There’s a lot of sad stuff and it’s being covered appropriately and in a widespread manner. We wanted to do an entertainment show to give people a break. We wanted to do a show with music, with heart. I think that’s important, you know, not to dwell on the negative all the time but maybe show people in a positive way how change can happen too.
GC: Yeah, I agree. Exactly what he said.
MW: Fantastic, now last question before I let you go. How can people help out at home? Anyone looking to get involved themselves how would you suggest they do that?
HCJ: When people watch the special at home there’ll be lots of ways for them to help. This is a time in our world where I think people start out feeling helpless and as they educate themselves about all kinds of issues, they realize that there’s a lot of stuff they can do.
We are included among all those folks, so specifically to this special you’ll see ways that that you can help as you watch. We’re excited for people to be a part of it.
MW: Fantastic. Thank you so much for the time today and can’t wait to watch the show on Sunday night.
HCJ: Thank you
GC: Thanks, Matt!
United We Sing: A GRAMMY Tribute To The Unsung Heroes airs Sunday night at 8:00PM ET/PT, only on CBS and streaming on CBS All Access. Check your local listings for more information.