Listen to Jim’s interview with Ben Folds above!
JB: Going behind the scenes on tour Bus Confidential with my friend and fellow musician, Ben Folds! I’m such a big fan of yours, Ben, and I know you and I both kind of have a similar experience in growing up in arts communities. You’re from North Carolina…how did that help your love for music?
Ben Folds: Well, Jim, I’ve played in a youth orchestra when I was really young. In Cleveland, you have the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, we had something similar to that called the Young Salem Symphony when I was a kid. It’s important! I mean, I don’t know if you could do a little scientific survey and find out how many great artists come out of places where you had a little bit of a hand when you were a kid. I would suspect that it would be more. And it’s not even [just important] if you’re going to be a professional musician! For whatever you’re going to do in your life, to have a better understanding of how you communicate and what’s artful and what’s artistic. It’s a big part of life.
Listen to Part II of Jim’s interview with Ben Folds above!
JB: I’m curious if there was a certain time or moment where you felt like you knew that music was something you wanted to do. I love hearing other people’s stories about that.
Ben Folds: I think I had a lot of those moments, you know? I had two or three really great teachers, for different reasons. My first band teacher was good for encouraging. I started playing younger because she could tell that I was someone who was very interested in it, and so, another teacher might have said “no, you have to wait until you’re in sixth grade to do this,” but instead, I got to do in while I was in fourth.
I met a drummer who played on a lot of Stevie Wonder’s stuff, like Songs in the Key of Life, he was doing a master class, and my band teacher and another band teacher brought me to that…I got to talk to the guy afterwards and it was really helpful for me to talk to a real working musician, cause I never saw that where I came from. We had a good arts community, but we didn’t have rock n rollers and jazzers and people who went out and did it!
More on Ben Folds
Ben Folds is widely regarded as one of the major music influencers of our generation.
For over ten years he’s shared the stage with some of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras, performing his pop hits and critically acclaimed concerto for Piano and Orchestra. He was recently named as the first-ever Artistic Advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center where he will bring pop artists together with the nation’s orchestra to collaborate on new music.
Throughout his career, Folds has created an enormous body of genre-bending music that includes pop albums with Ben Folds Five, multiple solo albums, and collaborative records with artists from Sara Bareilles and Regina Spektor, to William Shatner. His most recent album is a blend of pop and classical original works that soared to #1 on both the Billboard classical and classical crossover charts.
Folds continues to perform with symphonies and also cross country solo touring reminiscent of his earliest years, delivering a high energy rock performance using the intimacy of just a piano.
An avid photographer, Folds is a member of the distinguished Sony Artisans of Imagery, and earlier this year completed an assignment as a photo editor for National Geographic. And he’s an outspoken advocate for music education and music therapy as a member of Americans For The Arts, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Nashville Symphony.
Jim Brickman talks musical childhood memories with Ben Folds and the benefits of growing up in an artistic community like his in Salem, North Carolina!
Founder of the Social Institute Laura Tierney talks to Jim about the importance of setting boundaries with tech, tweens and a hyperconnected world.
Jim Brickman and Charles Billingsley discuss his Charles’ passion for creating an authentic golden-era holiday jazz record with “It’s Christmas Time Again.”