Brickman spreads love with Valentine concert

By John Benson

It seems as though Jim Brickman is always celebrating some holiday.

Fresh off his annual Christmas show run, the Cleveland-area native is hitting the road for his “Love Tour” that comes to Westminster College’s Orr Auditorium on Saturday.

“There’s a completely different approach and obligation when you are part of a Christmas celebration, bringing well-known carols and songs to life in a new yet memorable way,” said Brickman via email. “‘The Love Tour’ is more intimate and embraces the audience in a much gentler way. It celebrates not only Valentine’s Day, but the love of sweethearts, friends, family and even the world around us.”

Naturally, Brickman has a soundtrack in mind, the aptly titled “Love 2” album, which was released in 2013 as a follow-up to his 2010 effort, “Love.” Both projects include covers of popular love songs from the past, as well as a few originals sprinkled in for good measure.

For the most-recent affair, this includes “Every Shade of You,” which Brickman co-wrote as a fun, uplifting song about love that eschews superficiality for more of a deep and rich feel.

Overall, regarding the notion of covering classic love songs, Brickman said he couldn’t resist.

“I grew up in the ’70s, and this was the music I listened to on the radio,” Brickman said. “Like everyone, I fell in love, had my heart broken and danced at prom to these beautiful melodies. This music really influenced the way I write my music today.

“It also coincided with the release of ‘Celebration of the ’70s’ with huge acts — Thelma Houston, David Pack [Ambrosia], Yvonne Elliman, David Cassidy, Rita Coolidge, Stephen Bishop, Firefall and more — from the era. It felt like the perfect addition to such a poignant concert event in my life.”

Over the past two decades, Brickman is the most commercially successful instrumental pop pianist with four albums — 1995’s “By Heart,” 1997’s “Picture This” and “The Gift” and 1999’s “Destiny” — certified gold. Overall, he’s sold more than 7 million albums and earned two Grammy Award nominations based on the success of 27 top-40 singles on the adult contemporary charts.

This includes his collaboration with country artist Martina McBride on “Valentine,” which peaked at No. 9 on the mainstream country radio charts. Other Brickman staples include “Simple Things” with Rebecca Lynn Howard, “Peace” and “The Gift,” both with Collin Raye and Susan Ashton, “Never Alone” with Lady Antebellum and “Love of My Life” with Michael W. Smith.

So what does this big star, and purveyor of love, have planned for Valentine’s Day?

“I’ll be in concert on Valentine’s Day, celebrating in romantic Roanoke, Virginia,” Brickman said. “I’m hoping there will be lots of chocolate involved.”

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