Multi-platinum pianist Jim Brickman is one of today’s most beloved artists whose selection of romantic piano and Christmas music spans across a wide variety of popular music genres. With 6 of his albums acquiring Gold and Platinum status, it’s easy to see why Jim Brickman is a prominent celebrity in the popular and new age instrumental music genres. Likewise, he is renowned as the greatest pianist in the Adult Contemporary genre category, having charted more than any other male performer.
Jim Brickman is a highly recognized entertainer and recording artist who has thrilled millions of people for years with his award winning collection of popular piano music which can range from solo piano, popular, mainstream music, adult contemporary, and a wonderful selection of Christmas albums, many of which are available in CD and DVD formats.
With 6 Gold and Platinum albums, 2 GRAMMY® nominations, and 30 chart topping adult radio hits, Jim Brickman is accustomed to prestigious awards and recognition. Along with 2 SESAC Songwriter of the Year awards, a Canadian Country Music Award, and a Gospel Music Association Dove Award, he is tied for the most #1 albums in Billboard’s New Age charts. Presently listed in the Top 10 of Billboard’s New Age Charts are three of Jim’s albums; All is Calm, Romanza, & Love.
Jim Brickman is likewise cherished for his countless album collaborations with other popular celebrity artists, some of which include Lady Antebellum, Kenny Loggins, Martine McBride, Olivia Newton-John, Donny Osmond, Carly Simon and Michael W. Smith. During the course of his lengthy career Jim Brickman has become a household name, having crossed over into mainstream piano music that is adored by millions of people worldwide.
The Christmas holidays are a special time of year that symbolizes another period in time when people often associate Jim Brickman, and his special variety of piano instrumental Christmas music. Currently Jim is beginning his 2011 Holiday Concert Tour in the continental U.S. Also recognized for his humanitarian efforts, Jim is involved with many charitable foundations dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families, including Autism Speaks, UNICEF and Camp Heartland.
New Age Music World host John P. Olsen had an opportunity to interview Jim Brickman at the very start of his opening Christmas Concert Tour in 2011. Today we are pleased to present their conversation to Jim Brickman’s international fan base and to our global site visitors.
Interview with Jim Brickman;
John Olsen: Thank you so much for accepting my interview invitation Jim. I realize this is an especially busy time for you. It is truly a privilege to be the host for your most current interview. Currently you are about to begin your 2011 “A Christmas Celebration” Concert Tour, which has numerous concert venues in major cities throughout the continental U.S.
John: When traveling across the country on tour with full entourage I imagine the excitement of every performance takes a lot out of you, and the entire team. How do you and everyone on the team re-energize and prepare for the next concert?
Jim Brickman: Each city, theatre and audience is different. Knowing this helps keep the performances fresh and exciting. It really is like celebrating Christmas every day.
John: During your Christmas Concert Tour in 2011 you have special guest vocalist Anne Cochran and Ben Utecht, with violinist Tracy Silverman. I have heard these artists on your YouTube videos and must say you have a great team Jim! Would you like to tell everyone about the exceptional artists who will be performing with you during this year’s A Christmas Celebration Concert Tour?
Jim Brickman: I’ve been performing with Anne Cochran and Tracy Silverman for many, many years. Anne and I met in high school. I look forward to performing with her, not only because we are close friends, but because she has a beautiful voice and a great personality.
Tracy is a brilliant musician who adds a dimension to my concert that you don’t normally expect to hear. Ben Utecht is new to the tour, but may be a familiar name to NFL football fans. He was a member of the Super Bowl Championship Indianapolis Colts. He has a powerful voice that brings new meaning to familiar songs and old favorites. Ben has a large presence on stage, and he wears his Super Bowl ring!
John: How many seasons have you held Christmas concerts to date, and how do you determine which of the many exceptional artists to choose from will be performing with you? If it is not a secret, can you tell us some of the Christmas songs concert attendees will hear during your 2011 season?
Jim Brickman: This is the 16th year of the holiday tour. I will be playing holiday favorites and a few songs from my latest CD Romanza. Plus the hits, because everyone wants to hear the hit songs. I hope for a few hours the audience can wrap themselves up in the holiday spirit through my music.
John: Over the years you have been Grammy nominated, won countless music awards, in addition to 6 of your releases attaining Gold and Platinum status. It is obvious people adore your music Jim. Do you feel there a specific element about your music that you feel has helped you achieve worldwide popularity?
Jim Brickman: As I write music, I think about where people will be listening to it, and how it will make them feel. Because the majority of my songs have no words, people can listen, apply it into their own lives, and take away what they need to hear.
John: I am confident most people reading this interview are familiar with your music. For those people who may be less familiar with your many albums, what albums would you suggest for a starting point for them to begin sampling your music?
Jim Brickman: If You Believe is my signature song and I think it also best represents my “sound.” It symbolizes my dream of composing and performing, and the belief in myself to bring it to fruition. It’s on the CD Picture This.
John: From your great selection of Christmas music CDs and DVDs, what would you recommend they sample or purchase?
Jim Brickman: That’s like asking which is your favorite child. I have a new CD called All Is Calm that’s available at Target.
John: You have been a successful musician nearly your entire life. Knowing there are other artists reading our interview today, can you give any advice or offer a helpful strategy to those artists who are just beginning their music career?
Jim Brickman: Listen to many different artists that you enjoy and admire. Hear what it is in their music and lyrics that speak to you. Then when you sit down to write, adopt what you like from other elements and make it your own.
So many pianists tell me “Everyone says I sound like Jim Brickman. How do I start my career?” Well, there’s already a Jim Brickman, so I tell them the best way is to create a new, unique sound. Find places to be heard. And don’t be afraid of rejection. Find places to play and show off your talent. Start small and get your style and personality known so that you can grow your career.
John: In regards to your talents as a pianist, would you say you have natural born talents as a pianist, or has it merely taken practice and dedication to reach the level of expertise you have achieved?
Jim Brickman: I started playing piano when I was 4. I begged my parents to buy me a piano. So, that part was natural. I had a lot of piano teachers growing up, and they all wanted me to play in what I call “their style.”
It wasn’t until I studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music, that I found a teacher who helped me develop my own style. It evolved out of my classical training and my love of pop music. That’s what you hear today.
John: You have collaborated on numerous projects with famous artists like yourself over the years. Would you like to tell us about your experience while working with esteemed artists like yourself?
Jim Brickman: I love writing with different people because each one draws something new out of me. As I write I hear a specific sound singing the vocals. I love using new voices that may not be familiar to listeners because they come to me with an eagerness and fresh energy. Of course, many have gone on to become household names like Martina McBride and Lady Antebellum.
John: When visiting your jimbrickman.com website I read you are offering a “Jim Brickman Escape Cruise” in 2013, where you and anyone interested can sail the Eastern Caribbean together. What are some of the cruise destinations you have traveled during your earlier vacation cruises, and what are some of the onboard cruise activities?
Jim Brickman: We have sailed all over the Caribbean, and the Mexican Riviera. Two years ago we took an amazing trip to Alaska, and this year we went to Hawaii. I do two concerts onboard, usually in a cabaret style theatre that lends itself to a more casual performance.
A favorite for the fans is the songwriting workshop where we actually write a song with the help of the audience. My parents have become a popular addition to the cruise, and we have a Q&A session with them where they tend to say more than they should! There are casual get-togethers where we all just hang out.
What’s really cool is that a lot of the same people who come back year after year and have made lifelong friends that they continue to travel with.
John: I saw at your website the CDs and DVDs items in your Christmas store section are generously priced at $10 and under. Even your newest releases Romanza & All Is Calm CDs are on sale. Would I be correct in saying Christmas is a very special time for you, and could you tell us why Christmas holds so much significance to you personally?
Jim Brickman: This may sound corny but, what makes Christmas so special to me is the music. We hear the same songs year after year. They create memories that tie generations together.
The old songs are sung in their original form or updated versions, but the message is the same. And sharing that with audiences every night is a wonderful gift I can share.
John: You are also involved with many charitable foundations for children. Would you tell us about your work as a philanthropist?
Jim Brickman: I try to get involved with charities that are affected by my music. When I heard that children with Autism responded to my music, I got involved with Autism Speaks. After Beautiful World was released, we raised money for UNICEF.
People tell me how my music has helped them through chemotherapy, and really hard times in their lives. It important to me to help raise awareness any way I can. Also, a scholarship has been established at my alma mater the Cleveland institute of Music in my honor.
John: Do you have any news or information to pass along regarding any new album projects you may have or special events you will be announcing soon?
Jim Brickman: I produced a Carpenters tribute show called Yesterday Once More that is currently touring the US. I’d love to do more theatrical type shows, maybe even write for Broadway!
John: Thank You again for spending time with us by way of our interview Jim. I look forward to the day when I can follow-up by another interview together.
In closing for now, do you have anything you would like to express to the people who will be attending a concert this year, and the many fans that have supported you throughout your career?
Jim Brickman: I am most humbled by people who tell me how my music has touched them. You really can’t measure something like that that in awards and sales.
Visit the jimbrickman.com homepage and the Jim Brickman Store. Find more about the topics Jim mentioned like his Holiday Concert Tour schedule for 2011 & 2012, and listen to his radio program at brickhouseradionetwork.com. Read my pages dedicated to Jim Brickman. Photos are courtesy Kirkland Performance Center & jimbrickman.com.