Interviews John Ondrasik aka Five For Fighting and Jim Brickman

Published on December 6th, 2017 | by Darren Paltrowitz


Jim Brickman On Christmas, The Military, Being A Diversified Musician, And What’s Coming Up

A little more than a decade after founding a successful commercial jingle company, Jim Brickman signed a record deal with Windham Hill Records in 1994. His first album for Windham Hill, No Words, featured the song “Rocket To The Moon,” the first solo instrumental to chart on Billboard. More hits followed with 1995’s By Heart, including the Top 20 adult contemporary title track. Picture This, released in 1997, had a crossover hit with “Valentine,: as featuring vocals from Martina McBride. Ultimately Brickman has continued to make albums that sell while while earning top award honors (e.g. Grammy nominations, SESAC’s “Songwriter Of The Year,” Dove Award) and collaborating with top artists (e.g. Lady Antebellum, Johnny Mathis, Michael W. Smith, Megan Hilty). Simply put, Jim Brickman is the best-selling solo pianist of our time with 21 #1 albums and 32 Top 20 Radio Singles

Last month, Brickman put out A Joyful Christmas via BMG. Joyful features collaborations with Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik, Leslie Odom Jr., Dick Van Dyke, and Jane Lynch. Its first single, “Christmas Where You Are” — a collboration with Ondrasik — debuted at #2 on the Mediabase Holiday Songs Chart, placing between entries from Sia and Kelly Clarkson. Meanwhile, Brickman is on tour, continues to host a syndicated radio show, and works on a variety of charity projects.

I had the pleasure of asking Brickman a few questions on behalf of Hype and ultimately came away impressed with the man’s work ethic and overall positivity. More on Jim Brickman can be found online at

What came first, “Christmas Where You Are” or the idea to collaborate with John?

Jim Brickman: I’ve always supported the military. They are the life-blood of what makes our country safe and strong. I think we sometimes take it for granted that they are protecting us. But their service really stands out when we realize that they give up so much. Not being with family at special moments, like the holiday season is a huge sacrifice. John and I share this feeling so writing the song came out of the desire to pay tribute and say thank you.

Christmas music aside, what is coming up for you career-wise?

Jim Brickman: I’m always writing new music, but I have a weekly radio show that is broadcast across the country. I’m working with Roland to promote music education, piano in particular. There’s always something going on.

Is there a career accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Jim Brickman: I’m so honored and humbled when people tell me how much my music means to them. Whether it’s a love song they played at their wedding or comforting music that helped them through a stressful time, it really touches me when I hear how they relate to the songs I write.

Beyond music, you have Brickhouse Direct, a radio show, an annual cruise, and philanthropic efforts. How or when did you realize the need to be diversified as a businessman?

Jim Brickman: Diversifying came as a natural evolution. Fulfilling merchandise, connecting with fans and of course, supporting a worthwhile cause. The radio show grew out of my natural curiosity. I was doing a lot of interviews and it hit me. I’d like to be asking the questions! It was funny because when was touring, listeners would come up to me and say “I love your radio show. I had no idea you played piano.” The fans want more so there’s always a need to fill.

When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?

Jim Brickman: I like to exercise and clear my head. Hiking is relaxing and inspiring. I like going to the movies too!

What’s the last concert you attended for fun?

Jim Brickman: I don’t go to a lot of concerts, but I love the theater. The last show I loved was Waitress. I think Sara Bareilles is an extremely-talented musician. There’s a lot of heart in her writing.

Do you have a favorite album of 2017?

Jim Brickman: I loved the re-release of The Divine Miss M. Who doesn’t love Bette Midler?!

Finally, Jim, any last words for the kids?

Jim Brickman: Find something you love to do and give it all you’ve got.

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."

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