Brickman

Brickman

Shaker Heights native and solo pianist Jim Brickman will return to Northeast Ohio for a stop on his “Brickman Across America” tour on Aug. 20 at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights.

Each show on the tour will be recorded for a 2023 release of his next live album of the same name.

In a telephone interview from California, Brickman told the Cleveland Jewish News playing the piano isn’t something you consciously choose. He’s been playing since age 5, growing up at Suburban Temple-Kol Ami in Beachwood, where he was confirmed, and graduating from Shaker Heights High School. He went to Cleveland Institute of Music, studying composition and performance while also studying business at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He stayed in the area full time until his late 20s, but still calls Cleveland his home when he’s not splitting his time in New York, he said.

“I often say that it is not something you choose, but something that chooses you,” Brickman said. “It was not necessarily with any intention when I was little. It is something you’re just drawn to, especially if you’re meant to be doing it. I just loved music in general and loved the way it made me feel. Early on, it gave me joy – not just to play but also to perform for others.”

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While growing up in Shaker Heights, Brickman said there was a lot of “camaraderie,” that is until he became the kid “always inside playing the piano instead of playing outside with friends.” Recalling he didn’t get much support from music teachers before going to college, he realized he was “more of a songwriter than a pianist, which doesn’t show early on,” he said.

“It became a little more isolating,” he said. “If someone told me then that this would be my life or career, I would’ve said, ‘yeah, right.’ That part is mind-boggling when you look back. It wasn’t until I went to CIM and started taking jazz improv that this whole concept started to fully form.”

Although he is well-known for his Christian-leaning music, especially his Christmas albums, Brickman said his identity as a Jewish man is still important to him.

“I think about it every day,” he said. “It can’t go without saying that sometimes I find myself in a situation where I have to stand for my beliefs. It’s always so weird that the world we live in doesn’t consider that I might not be Christian.”

Kicking off the tour at Cain Park’s Evans Amphitheater in Cleveland Heights also has significant meaning for Brickman, he said. While each date will celebrate each region’s musical history and sound, playing a venue he used to visit as a fan is “surreal.”

“Whenever you play a place where you used to attend concerts by other people, it is always really special,” he said. “It feels surreal in many ways, even now years later. I used to go to all of these (Cleveland venues) that I play now and that is extremely gratifying and emotional.”

Jim Brickman - Home Full Album

The tour is slated to extend through next May. After just returning to tour life last winter due to COVID-19, Brickman said he’s reminded just how much he loves being on the road.

“There is joy and energy in live performances,” he said. “There is people’s happiness, laughter and this emotional connection when I play live. (Live performances) are such a ‘pinch me’ moment, almost like you’re outside of yourself. Sometimes, you get so busy doing the work, you realize that it becomes bigger than yourself.”

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