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Ghost Canyon

Jim Brickman Jim Brickman
’Living in a Winter Harmony: A Hope is Born’

When Jim Brickman began assembling songs for his new holiday album, he wanted to capture the colors and emotions evoked by the idea of peace as the theme for a collection of music - both classic standards and new songs - that create a sense of harmony and comfort. The new CD, Peace, hits stores last month on Windham Hill Records.

For Brickman, peace is a unique quality that can absolutely be shared through music. Peace honors all the colors and moods of the Christmas holiday, including the CD's first single, ’Peace (Where The Heart Is),’ which reunites Brickman with Grammy-winning country music star Collin Raye, for the first time since their #1 hit, ’The Gift.’

Taking some quiet time out with the man himself, I first as Jim what his thought process was whilst putting this new holiday album together? ”I always thought of the holiday season as a peaceful time of year, or at least it should be. With all of the unrest in the world, I felt like making an album that was somewhat nostalgic, that featured hymns and classics would feel good for people.”

Of all the holiday standards that are out there how did you manage to choose the ones you ended up re-interpreting? ”I like to re-interpret the hymns and carols of Christmas more than the pop songs. I get more of a chance to add my style to those classics.”

How easy is it to write a brand new holiday song and what pit-falls do you have to be aware of? ”I love doing it! It comes naturally to me because I really enjoy these hopeful, joyous songs. Also, being an instrumentalist makes it easier because you don't hear that many instrumental versions of these songs AND, songs like ‘We Three Kings,’ etc. don't get covered that often on pop singers albums. [So], no pit-falls that I can see!”

You've now had three of the best-selling Windham Hill releases ever, but does that add unwarranted pressure to you with the release of every new album? ”I think it's very important to be true to the audience with my music, but that also presents challenges because as an artist I have to keep exploring and learning. So, I try to do what comes naturally and not listen too much to what other people think I should do next. You never win that way. It's just gotta come from within.”

Is there any tangible correlation, in your eyes, between this album and your '97 album, The Gift? ”Yes, in the sense that it's meant to be a musical celebration of the season, and also meant to be used and enjoyed by people.”

Tell me more about your book, 'Simple Things' and why you wrote it in the first place ”I felt that I had a lot to say that couldn't be said musically, so I started journaling for myself. These journal entries were the basis for the book ‘Simple Things.’ I got a chance to include great interviews from other celebrity friends who shared their insight about how they've tried to keep it simple. I also wanted it to be light-hearted, and not too much of a serious-self-help kinda thing.”

How does having a syndicated weekly radio program cut into your personal time - as you seem to be a very busy man! ”Actually, I've been doing the show for 7 years, so I'm pretty comfortable with recording it whenever I'm home in LA. I am busy, but I really enjoy doing the show, and plan to keep going with it. I get great feedback from people who listen regularly.”

Describe yourself in just three words ”Passionate, Ambitious, Shy.”

If I managed to come across a tape of your first public appearance at the Sussex Elementary School Talent Show (Ohio), would I be one very rich man?! ”You'd be one very bored man! I don't think you'd have picked me out among my peers as one who might succeed in music!”

Finally, if you were locked into a studio and asked to make a song with four other musicians (none related to the work you have done or currently are doing), who would they be and what would the name of the song be?! ”Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb, Herb Alpert, [and] Rob Thomas (Matchbox Twenty) [and] the song would be hopeful, but reflective. Burt Bacharach's inventiveness and originality, Jimmy Webb and Rob Thomas lyrical insight, and Herb Alpert's all around musicianship and business savvy!”

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

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