From writing commercial jingles in the 1980s to touring with Olivia Newton-John to a hit song collaboration, “Valentine,” with Martina McBride, songwriter, pianist and radio show host Jim Brickman crosses genres and continues to expand his musical empire.
This year, Brickman is bringing his annual Brickman Bash to the Musical Instrument Museum. The three-day event, from December 29 to December 31, features five performances by Brickman and the chance to sightsee in Sedona and Scottsdale.
After successful cruise ship gigs, Brickman says he got the idea for the Brickman Bash as an alternative for people who didn’t want to go on a cruise.
“I wanted to create a three-day experience in cities where there could be a core inspiration and thought it would be fun to have people in a more intimate setting.”
He’s since taken his Brickman Bash to locales such as Chicago, Niagara Falls, his hometown of Cleveland and now Phoenix.
In building his brand, Brickman says it all works together.
“Everything has to reflect the core of who I am and what I do. Everything is spokes on a hub. Most things relate to the other things I’m doing, and they all complement each other. The radio show will mention the concerts or guests I’m interviewing will lead to a collaboration.”
Brickman has played the Valley 15 to 20, he says, and the MIM is his favorite venue. “It’s a beautiful building and so well run. It’s a curated, perfect experience. I’m just a huge fan,” he says. “It’s such a great, immersive experience.”
His Midwest values and upbringing gave him a strong work ethic that helped shape his 30-plus-year career, he says. Growing up in suburban Cleveland with a nonmusical family helped steer him toward more mainstream, pop music.
“There’s an authenticity and honesty toward my music,” he says. “I never had anyone telling me who I was supposed to be or how to be. That honesty developed into my performing style, so when people come to my concerts, it’s like hanging out at my house for a concert. The music is so emotional and honest, it creates a whole package so to speak.”
For the MIM concerts, Brickman says there’s “always a surprise or two because there’s really no set list.” Concert-goers can expect to hear the hits- ones that people have maybe gotten married to or fell in love with at Christmas or sung in a choir.
“We’ll also do a live-by-request and Q&A section of the show. It’s extremely popular. Not only do you get impromptu songs, but you also get a lot of lighthearted comic relief that way. People know its very fun along with a very emotional type of music.”
The setlist choices are aplenty. The award-winning songwriter has earned three Grammy nominations, 21 No.1 albums and 32 top radio singles, according to Billboard Magazine. His first album release was 1995’s No Words, and he’s gone on to sell 8 million albums worldwide. Whether it’s country, gospel, instrumental or pop, Brickman has topped both U.S. and Canadian charts.
In addition to McBride, Brickman has collaborated with many iconic artists including Carly Simon, Lady Antebellum, Michael W. Smith, Herb Alpert, Michael Bolton, Donny Osmond, Kenny Rogers, Olivia Newton-John, Johnny Mathis, Kenny Loggins, Jane Krakowski, and a host of country, R&B, Broadway, pop, and jazz musicians. He’s written three best-selling books, starred in four TV concert specials, and is in the 20th season of hosting his syndicated radio show The Jim Brickman Show.
Brickman says he’s looking forward to his end of December concerts and visits to Arizona. “During the holidays it’s great to have a more intimate escape. It’s also a great way to give thanks to the year behind us and look forward to the year ahead, It’s a full experience.”
Looking ahead to 2019, Brickman says he is diligently working on a 25th anniversary tour and album with dates to be announced soon. “It’s the first time I’ll doing my own vocals for the hit songs,” he says. It’s a little scary, but it’s good as you always want to challenge yourself.”
Jim Brickman, Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, 480.478.6000, mim.org, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, December 29, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, December 30, and 7 p.m. Monday, December 31, $48.50-$68.50.