To celebrate the holiday season, pianist and composer Jim Brickman will return to St. Louis and the Touhill Performing Arts Center on Nov. 26 to perform selections from his newest albums, All is Calm and Romanza. Taking a break from his tour preparation, he talked with LN about the new show and his upcoming projects.
LN: Tell us about your A Christmas Celebration holiday concert. Who are some of the artists sharing the stage with you?
JB: This is our 16th year for the holiday tour, and it’s become an annual tradition. It’s a really joyous thing to play music that people love—that nostalgic and romantic music, and everyone is in great spirits. Anne Cochran has been with me every time I’ve been in St. Louis. She and I grew up together in Cleveland, so we’ve been performing together since high school. Tracy Silverman plays a rock/classical violin on a really cool instrument—the electric violin. He plays everything from Smoke on the Water to Santa Claus is Coming to Town, which is very fun! And this year’s special male vocalist guest is Ben Utecht, who is a former NFL football player for the (Indianapolis) Colts. He is amazing singer and is a really charming, wonderful addition to the show.
LN: Can you share with LN readers what the show will feature?
JB: It’s going to be a nice combination of great holiday music, like the hymns and carols of the season, so it’s traditional in that respect. But yet the show also has a pop sensibility with a lot of my songs woven throughout the program.
LN: How did you come up with the idea for your platinum song, The Gift?
JB: When you start out to write a Christmas song, your first instinct is to do something cliché, like Santa down the chimney or presents under the tree. Once you write about people instead of things, all of a sudden, the story evolves. So once I started thinking about two people at Christmas time and the gifts we give each other that are not material things, and it just unfolded with a romantic tone. There aren’t a lot of romantic holiday songs—I think that’s one of the reasons it became popular.
LN: And you have a new Christmas album this year?
JB: It’s called All is Calm. Since the holidays are a stressful time, it’s nice to have something to just mellow out to or to trim the tree with.
LN: And what is Romanza like?
JB: I’ve always been excited by cinematic types of melodies, and my fans say that my music sounds like it’s from a movie. So I gave this album a European/Italian sound, like from a movie or the kind of inspiring romance of an Italian love song.
LN: You’ve been involved with Autism Speaks, among other nonprofits. What led you to this particular organization?
JB: I was invited to a South Carolina hospital that was focusing on music and the mind. I met this young girl with autism who could play my entire album Picture This. It was amazing, and it was then when I realized the power of music to comfort, to heal, to connect—it made me realize how important this challenge is.
LN: So after this tour, what’s next?
JB: We’re starting our international tour, so Asia and Europe are on the docket next. After that, I’ll start working on the next album. But for now, I’m excited to be coming back to St. Louis. It will be Thanksgiving weekend, which will be a great kick off to the holiday season—and it’s our first show of the tour! We love performing at the Touhill—there isn’t a bad seat in the house.