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Brickman returns to Pittsburgh bringing 'Comfort & Joy'

| Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, 5:48 p.m.
Jeffrey L. Klaum
Jim Brickman

Jim Brickman is aware that sometimes people who work in retail stores, where Christmas music starts very early and is played non-stop until well after the big day itself, can grow weary of holiday tunes.

But this Grammy-nominated pianist, singer and songwriter's place of work is the stage, and he insists that even after two decades of his popular holiday music performances, he has no such problem.

”It's the audiences' reaction that keeps it fresh. For them, it's like hearing it for the first time. That makes it feel new at every performance,” says Brickman, who returns to Pittsburgh's Byham Theater Dec. 1 to present an evening of the songs, sounds and stories of the season with “Comfort & Joy,” his 2016 holiday tour.

“I'm honored that after 20 years people still invite me and my music to be part of their holiday celebration,” says the Cleveland native. “I had no idea that I'd enjoy celebrating the season night after night. But it really is fun knowing that for so many people the show has become a holiday tradition.”

Fans tell him that, besides the music, the show resonates for them because it has a homey, festive, warm and friendly feel to it. “Some say it's like playing in the living room,” Brickman says.

“‘Comfort & Joy' isn't about glitz and glamour,” he says. “It's about the music and how it makes us feel during the Christmas season. The beauty of the holiday resonates in the classic carols and contemporary songs.”

Brickman blends yuletide memories and traditional carols with his popular songs like “The Gift,” “Sending You A Little Christmas,” “Angel Eyes” and “If You Believe.”

In his last holiday concert in Pittsburgh two years ago, he performed alone on stage. This year, he says, he has some very special musical guests: fan favorite, singer and longtime friend Anne Cochran; electric violinist Tracy Silverman and 2008 “American Idol” winner Kris Allen.

“It's going to be an amazing show!” he says. “I have a new holiday song you'll be hearing on the radio. It's called ‘A Little Bit of Christmas,' sung by Kris Allen. It's already in the holiday Top 10.”

Brickman, who has had 30 charted adult radio hits, has won a loyal following in all seasons for his approach to solo piano, his pop-style instrumentals and vocal collaborations with, among others, Martina McBride, Kenny Rogers, Lady Antebellum, Johnny Mathis, Michael W. Smith, Kenny Loggins, Carly Simon, Herb Alpert, Collin Raye, Michael Bolton, Sara Evans, Donny Osmond and Olivia Newton-John.

In addition to a pair of Grammy nominations, he has two songwriter of the year awards, a Canadian Country Music Award and the Gospel Music Association's Dove Award.

Brickman's best-known compositions include the chart-toppers “Valentine,” “The Gift,” “Love of My Life,” “Simple Things” and “Peace.” He has performed worldwide, including shows at Carnegie Hall and the White House.

His weekly Jim Brickman Show is heard on radio in more than 80 cities across North America. He is a strong supporter of PBS with five concert specials presented on the network.

Brickman also has authored three best-selling books. He stopped in the Pittsburgh market last year, at Barnes & Noble's, Settlers Ridge, to celebrate his latest book and CD, “Soothe — How to Find Calm Amid Everyday Chaos.”

“I'm known for making music that helps couples fall in love, puts children to sleep and relaxes frayed nerves, so many people assume I must be a laid-back, chilled-out kind of guy,” he says. “The real story is I'm a stress junkie. The writing of this book has been my ‘stress rehab' by being guided through some amazing relaxation practices that fit my life. None of us transforms overnight, but I have really changed the way I deal with stress.”

Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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