jim-red-coat-piano-copyChristmas Classics and Music Magic: Q & A with Jim Brickman
By Nancy Berk for Parade

’Tis the season when Grammy-nominated pianist Jim Brickman hits the road. I caught up with Brickman, notorious for creating beautiful Christmas and holiday music, right before he kicked off his 30-city Comfort & Joy tour to find out how he has maintained his position as a holiday favorite for nearly two decades.

Brickman, who has four gold albums and 30 charted adult radio hits to his credit. These talents are showcased in his Comfort & Joy tour which features special guest 2008 American Idol winner Kris Allen,  Anne Cochran and Tracy Silverman.

As a songwriter and pianist, you have always tapped a very sensitive and heartfelt chord for audiences. Was the holiday focus something that was intentional, or did it just evolve over time?
I’ve always loved Christmas music. It’s timeless but touches generations with a new sound and message each year. The oldest hymns are of course classical songs. I love bringing them to life with a new sound.

Comfort & Joy, your new Christmas CD, features Christmas classics and some favorites from your original holiday collection. You’ve done seven holiday albums— and there are so many great holiday songs out there. How do you narrow down such a long list and select the tracks?
It’s not easy! But the world and times change, so I am drawn to songs that reflect the times yet are reminiscent of good memories.

You are known for being a gifted and acclaimed solo pianist AND a great collaborator. Is that the key to creative success— knowing your own talent, but also recognizing and learning from the talent of others?
Yes. Every time I collaborate I learn something new. We each bring a different strength and sensibility to the table. The creative juices flow together and something wonderful happens.

Your holiday season is always marked by a very heavy tour schedule, including this year’s 30-city tour. This is a gift to others, but as an artist, is it also a gift to yourself?
love celebrating the holidays, traveling from city to city. Everyone is in a festive mood and so open to the beauty of the music. It’s magical. So the gift is that the audience wants to celebrate with me too.

What can fans expect from the Comfort & Joy tour?
Comfort & Joy isn’t about special effects, glitz and glamour. It’s about the music and how it makes us feel during the Christmas season. The beauty of the holiday resonates in the classic carols and contemporary songs.

Jim Brickman music is pretty much a holiday staple. Can I assume that you get invited to a lot of Christmas parties?
I’m always on the road so I don’t go to any parties. But we eat Christmas cookies on the tour bus. Does that count?

Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, comic and entertainment analyst. The host of the showbiz podcast Whine At 9, Nancy digs a little deeper as she chats with fascinating celebrities and industry insiders.