Songwriter, composer and singer Jim Brickman is on tour in support of his new CD, "Escape". During a career that started in 1994 as a commercial jingle writer, Jim has managed to release 12 albums -- 500,000 sold in the U.S. alone -- earned a Grammy nomination, and toured the world. During his recent visit to Washington, he paid a visit to VOA's Larry London.
The piano is been one of the world's favorite instruments. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, and Chopin all relied on the ivory keys to create a sound that made a place for them in music history.
Jim Brickman is one of the contemporary pianists who use the keys to craft his songs. Jim feels that excitement when he sees people learning to play piano.
"It is very exciting to see, especially young people taking piano, and being excited and passionate about it. It's always rare to find inspiration when you take out one of those books that piano teachers make you play out of. There's not a lot of light at the end of the tunnel for the stuff you really want to play. It is very encouraging for me to see people of all ages at my concerts who do take piano lessons."
Jim Brickman is often referred to as a "New Age" American composer who has written music that has been performed by many singers, including Collin Raye, Martina McBride, Michael W. Smith and Susan Ashton. Where does Jim see himself as a songwriter, composer, performer and pianist?
"I really still think of myself as a songwriter, mostly, that plays the piano … plays my songs on the piano. I never really thought of myself as a pianist although piano is my main instrument. I was always a melody writer. I always wrote songs with words. My sensibility is really that of a pop singer songwriter mentality."
As the piano has remained a popular instrument around the world, so have the many songs that Jim has written and performed.
"Especially in Southeast Asia and in many countries around the world, there's a connection with romantic music and the emotional sense of a melody. Especially in Southeast Asia I would say, in the Philippines and in Malaysia, Thailand, Laos. All these wonderful places.… Indonesia, there's a love for the beauty of music. I think the same is true in Europe. I haven't been to Russia. I've been to Shanghai, China, and Taiwan.
There seems to be a real love for organic music around the world. More so than, I believe, in the U.S. It almost makes me want to move to Thailand or something like that, because it seems to be a more heartfelt appreciation. There are plenty of people of who love that in the U.S. but music has changed so much. People like so many different kinds of music, so I think it's the simplicity. I think it's the emotional connection and the simplicity."
Jim Brickman's latest album is titled "Escape." "It's the first album of all original music in three years for me. It's the 12th album, which is really hard for me to imagine. It's exciting."
"Traditionally, my music has been thought of as very romantic. I think by its nature, melody, and the emotion that it carries and connects with people tends to make people feel romantic about it. This album is not as much romance-driven as much as it is escape driven. The idea that people can just lose themselves in the music, that it's a way to chill out or relax, get away, to go on a mind vacation, and use the music to paint a picture whatever you want it to feel like.
So it's a combination getaway, travelogue, and a little nostalgia thrown in there."