Jim Brickman Biography

20 November 1961, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Brickman is a pianist who has surprised many during his increasingly successful career, and the basis for any understanding of him is a recognition of the simplicity of his ideas and execution. His reinstatement of a classic pop sound is at odds with his background in classical music, but his studies of composition and performance were always compromised by his love of popular music while at the Cleveland Institute Of Music. As he recalls: ‘That’s what came naturally to me, pop songwriting.’

Brickman launched a career as a commercial jingle writer while still cloistered in the campus dormitory. After despatching demo tapes to various New York advertising agencies, Brickman won high-profile commissions from, among others, Jim Henson and Henson Associates, consequently writing a good deal of music for The Muppets and Henson’s Children’s Television Workshop. His jingles also accompanied television commercials for major American corporations such as 7-Up, Sony and McDonald’s. He then founded his own production company after moving to Los Angeles. The Brickman Arrangement created music for clients including G.E., The Gap, Sprint, Kellogg’s and Disney TV. A series of nominations and awards came in recognition of this work, including the Houston International Film Festival and London’s International Advertising Awards.

Another career change arrived in 1994 when Brickman signed with Windham Hill Records to release No Words. Featuring, as the title intimated, no lyrics, this proved a small obstacle to commercial success as consumers turned to the artist’s unaffected pop tunes and powerful hooks, all provided via his solo, upright Yamaha piano skills. The 1995 follow-up, By Heart: Piano Solos, continued to mine a similar love of 50s and 60s bubblegum pop, though this time a vocalist (Laura Creamer) was used for the first time - albeit on a single track, ‘By Heart’. Other cameos included the presence of a vibraphone and cello, but elsewhere there was a reluctance to clutter any idea or melody with undue sophistication: ‘The world is such a noisy place that this is a refreshing change; the simplicity of the whole thing is attractive.’ A good example of this was the success of the single, ‘Rocket To The Moon’ (from No Words), which became the first solo instrumental song ever to break into the adult contemporary charts.

Brickman took his Yamaha on tour throughout his native Midwest America, the Far East and Asia. His next album, 1997’s Picture This, held the number one position on Billboard’s New Age chart for eight weeks and also reached the mainstream Top 30. A duet with country singer Martina McBride on the single ‘Valentine’ reached the US Top 50. It was quickly followed by a collection of seasonal favourites, The Gift. The 1998 duets album Visions Of Love featured collaborators Janis Ian, Peabo Bryson and Stephen Bishop. Further big name vocalists, including Carly Simon, Michael W. Smith and Pam Tillis, joined Brickman on the following year’s Destiny.

Now a fixture on the Adult Contemporary charts, Brickman has released a steady flow of albums in the new millennium. These have included the live recording 2000’s My Romance: An Evening With Jim Brickman, the 2003 seasonal album Peace, and the 2005 spiritual collection Grace. In 2006, he announced a new recording contract with SLG Records, part of the Savoy Records group, making his debut for the label later in the year with Escape.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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