When Jim Brickman steps on stage at The Ritz Theatre tomorrow night, he brings with him more than 20 years of being a well-established adult contemporary music star. The pianist, vocalist and composer is routinely filed under New Age, but he distances himself from that label, as his work runs the gamut of contemplative instrumentals to well-honed, vocally driven songwriting. The tour Pure Piano: The Greatest Hits promises to feature now-classic Brickman songs sure to satisfy longtime fans and perhaps even convert the uninitiated.
Born on Nov. 23, 1961 in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Brickman began playing piano at age five. After studying music composition and performance at Cleveland Institute of Music, Brickman began writing commercial jingles for notable clients including Pontiac, Isuzu and McDonald’s.
In 1994, Brickman caught the ear of music fans. That year, the acclaimed New Age record label Windham Hill released Brickman’s debut album, No Words. The first single, “Rocket to the Moon” immediately soared onto the Billboard charts. More than 20 years after its release, “Rocket to the Moon” gives a concise glimpse into both Brickman’s writing and performing style, with a rolling melody and chordal passages that touch on the sentimental and even somber.
In the years since, Brickman has released more than 35 albums, featuring original music, seasonal favorites, a tribute to The Carpenters and even a collection of Christian music. The Grammy Award-nominated Brickman is considered to be among the best-selling contemporary pianists. A global audience has put his album sales at more than seven million copies sold; four have earned gold record status.
Yet Brickman’s career enjoys a wider trajectory than that of simply being an instrumentalist. Collaborations with artists like Lady Antebellum and Martina McBride have broadened his appeal to audiences worldwide.
“People have more of an expectation of the style of music more than the content. Most people want to hear my piano work. It’s what I do,” Brickman told cbnmusic.com in 2016, about his choice in shifting from New Age and vocal to pop and even faith-based music. “I don’t think the choice of material, as long as it’s in my genre, surprises anybody. It’s a welcomed change for me to take a different path in content.”
In addition to his career in music, Brickman also hosts a longtime weekly radio show, Your Weekend with Jim Brickman. In the popular broadcast, Brickman plays the music of adult contemporary artists, interviews celebrities and expounds his own thoughts on music and life.
Whether behind the keyboard or on the air, Brickman and his ideas of faith, love and unity continue to command a sizable following who hold that romance and imagination, like Brickman’s music, is timeless.
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