After a decade of playing the world's largest stages and ruling lite rock radio, pianist Jim Brickman finally released a Greatest Hits album. Though the vocal collaborations and solo instrumental pieces could've easily been fleshed out on two volumes, the project is packed with memorable adult contemporary and new age gems. But don't let that term "new age" fool you; that's just a genre name. Brickman himself is a devout Christian who sometimes partners with other Christian artists in his music; guests on previous albums have included Michael W. Smith, Point of Grace, Susan Ashton, and Kristy Starling. And now Mark Schultz appears on Brickman's latest single, "Until I See You Again," which is now paying tribute to American troops at war.

How did "Until I See You Again" become such an anthem over the last few months?

Jim BrickmanIt's really interesting how things take shape. I was getting ready to release Greatest Hits and include a few new tracks and I'd always been a fan of Mark Schultz. It was great to have him on the song. My initial intention with the lyrics had to do with losing somebody in life and waiting to see them again in heaven, but some radio stations took a different meaning. One station in Seattle had military families call in and record messages to be incorporated into the song. It's now like a greeting card song where all these families are wishing their loved ones well and it's gone way beyond that first station.

Many of your songs have been inspirational, but tell me about the deeper message of faith that exists in your catalogue.

BrickmanTo me, being able to do this at all is a God-given gift. It's way of expressing myself and it also gives people the chance to pause and think about their own lives and own relationship with God. Spirituality is very important, so I've always sought to be introspective and passionate about it in my songwriting. I've never designed this trip to lead me to fame. It's hard for me to imagine this road for my life, so I can't fathom it not being divine intervention.

You've gone from a mostly instrumental artist to using vocalists. Why?

BrickmanIt was a natural growth where it started with me and piano lessons, writing my own music, then commercials. I evolved into making this a profession, paid my dues and then began writing words to the songs. I could've tried them for myself, but I'm nowhere near at the quality level of say, Michael W. Smith. Really what I am is a piano player who writes songs for other people to sing. I'm not a great singer, nor do I especially love it. I'm OK and I do sing a bit in concert, but there really are a lot of great singers out there.

Article continues below

How have you been able to bring so many Christian artists into your music when so much of it is featured on mainstream radio?

BrickmanLike with anything, you can't really push too hard or force something to happen. It must be natural. When the time was right to include a song about God and faith, artists like Michael W. Smith, Point of Grace and Clay Crosse were the best choices because they were singing about those topics anyway. I've found their tone to be more honest and real than some pop singers out there.

Has there been any hesitation to release such songs as singles because of their strong Christian content?

BrickmanI've always been of the belief that if people embrace the material., they'll play it. There are a lot of politics involved now, more so in the mainstream, but they are still everywhere. A song like "Sending You a Little Christmas" with Kristy Starling was embraced on both planes simply because it was accepted by listeners. Not every Christian station played it because I'm not considered a core Christian artist, nor am I on a Christian label, but we were still thankful that we were given airplay.

How are you connecting with these Christian artists?

BrickmanPartly because I spend lot of time in Nashville. I went there to find real singers, which you find the most in country and Christian music. They're singing about something and can communicate lyrics to an audience. Like Point of Grace being able to sing "Hope Is Born Again" or Collin Raye and Susan Ashton presenting "The Gift." Folks like those and Clay Crosse or Jaci Velasquez, they are great singers with great hearts.

What are your feelings looking back on ten years of making music?

BrickmanWhen you start putting them all together, you realize how many songs there are. The whole process has been a reflection back and it's nice to hear all the songs in one place. The project brings together the biggest hits, and even though I would've liked to see about five more I considered to be hits, they didn't make the final choice. Picking for these projects depends on your record company, which is really their overall call in the end.

What are your thoughts on the music industry these days?

BrickmanI think the record business is in really big trouble from an economic standpoint. In this case, they probably want to have a follow-up hits record, which is a decision that is based strictly on business rather than music making. It just goes to show you how vastly unrelated the creative and performing process are from the business side.

Article continues below

How are you able to make up for that lack of creative care?

BrickmanOne of the things that's vital is live performing. If you do that, it's much easier to stay connected to what matters. You get an immediate sense of what people want to hear—what they like and don't. It's not about sitting around a conference table; I'd rather be out seeking how to be a better performer.

What type of album and touring schedule can we expect from you next?

BrickmanIt always helps to have an initial concept, especially in a studio setting like I did with Simple Things. For my next album I'm leaning more toward all-out inspirational. I've always wanted to do hymns, so once that idea is honed, it will be easier to make a map. I have writing sessions with Mark Harris from 4Him and Olivia Newton-John coming up, and I'll be on the road through the end of the year. We're dong some summer dates here, probably going to Asia and other dates internationally, returning to the States this fall and then going on the Christmas tour. There'll be lots to look forward to!

For more information about Jim Brickman, visit his official web site. To read a review of his new Greatest Hits album, click here. Visit to hear sound clips and buy his music.