Nothing about pianist Jim Brickman’s family background suggested his future as an award-winning instrumental pop musician.
None of his family members was a musician, and no piano was in his home. But that didn’t stop the 5-year-old from seeking out the keyboard and piano lessons, even when his first teacher told his mom he didn’t have the knack for it.
“My mom told my teachers, ‘I don’t care if he has a knack for it. It’s something he loves to do. Keep teaching him. It’s not about him being technically proficient or a star, but him enjoying it, whether it becomes a hobby or not,’” Brickman recalled from a tour rehearsal in Minneapolis.
Brickman will bring his “A Joyful Christmas” show to Pikes Peak Center on Thursday.
“I always like to play a nice combination of hit songs, but also a lot of Christmas music,” he said. “It’s a nice balance of energy and funny and emotional, sort of like a gathering of friends who stopped by to sing a couple of songs and a lot of joyful celebration.”
That little kid who followed his inner compass grew into an adult who did the same thing. After his high school band won a talent competition and made a radio appearance, he was thrown into a whole new world. At 19, he started writing commercial jingles. He considered it his career, which surprises people who assume he always wanted to make it big as a musician.
“I wasn’t thinking it was headed toward something,” Brickman said. “I was happy writing jingles. It was an amazing education because you have to be creative on demand.”
During that time, he was drawn to the lecture circuit and started to travel the country, talking to advertising organizations about creativity, tapping into spirit and communicating emotionally to people. He realized he was comfortable speaking and telling stories in front of large groups, another skill that eventually would help him in his music career.
Eventually, jingle writing lost its shine, and he moved to Los Angeles, where he thought he could find work writing songs for movies or other people. He began to play piano again regularly, and when he listened to his recordings, he was pleasantly surprised.
“I thought, ‘This is pretty good. Maybe people would take a bubble bath to this or relax.’ There’s not enough music in the world like that. I heard it and thought maybe I could record,” he said.
His intuition was right. The Dove Award winner is the most charted Billboard adult contemporary artist, withn 21 No. 1 albums and multiple hits, such as “The Gift,” “Angel Eyes” and “Sending You a Little Christmas.” He’s also the host of radio’s long-running “The Jim Brickman Show.”
It’s clear Brickman has reflected on why people come to his music, which he calls honest and authentic. He doesn’t try to impress with over-the-top technical playing, and he realizes it’s music for special moments, such as the birth of a child or a wedding. There’s also another important aspect to it.
“It breathes, which is hard to explain,” he said, “but you have to have moments of silence in order to have moments of sound that resonates with people. Like someone who talks too much, there’s too much to take in. It’s the same thing with music. If you don’t give it a chance to breathe, people can’t absorb the content.”
JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM