by Jenniffer Wardell
SALT LAKE CITY—A Christmas classic is back in Utah.
Jim Brickman will be returning to Salt Lake as part of his holiday tour on Dec. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Abravanel Hall. This year’s show, “A Joyful Christmas,” is a mix of Brickman’s best-loved hits, his takes on Christmas classics, and moments designed to appeal to the whole family.
“Variety is always important,” he said, adding that the show is safe for all ages. “The audience for some reason is multigenerational, and there’s such a range of reasons they’re coming to the concert.”
Among the Christmas numbers that will be included in the concert is “Christmas Where You Are,” Brickman’s new collaboration with Five for Fighting that honors troops around the world. He’ll also perform some of his best-loved songs, including “Valentine,” “The Gift,” and “Simple Things.”
“There will be a lot of hits from my overall career,” said Brickman. “I’m a big believer that, if you have hits, you should play them.”
There will also be a handful of guest performers designed to shake the mix up even more. Anne Cochran, longtime lead touring vocalist for Brickman, will be on hand for this year’s concert, as will singer and Broadway performer John Trones.
Another guest performer, who will sing “Rainbow Connection” with Brickman, is an even more familiar face to local audiences.
“Kermit and I have known each other for a really long time,” he said. “He’s my favorite duet partner.”
That sense of variety and spontaneity had its start early in Brickman’s career, right here in Utah.
“One of the first live shows I ever played was in Salt Lake City at Abravanel Hall,” he said. “I’d asked Donny Osmond to guest star, and when we were backstage I asked him what I should do when I got out there. It hadn’t occurred to me to plan it in advance.”
In the long run, though, he said the lack of planning was a benefit.
“My naiveté sort of helped my performing style,” he said. “I was the authentic me because I didn’t think about trying to portray a character version of me.”
Though he said he’s grown as an entertainer over the years, he tries hard to maintain that sense of spontaneity and genuineness in his shows. Though he has to have something of a set list for the sake of other performers and crew, there’s always a little wiggle room.
“It’s important for every night to be unique to that live experience,” he said. “I always continue to be extra conscious of what it feels like to be at a show, and to perform not at people, but with people.”
He also wants them to leave his concert feeling better than they came in.
“As a performer, it’s your job to reflect what people need at the time,” he said. “I want my concert to be an escape from the craziness of the holidays that lets people refresh and renew their spirits. (This time of year is) a new chapter to start, and I want to reflect that in the music in a hopeful and positive way.”
Abravanel Hall is located at 123 W. South Temple in Salt Lake. To purchase tickets or find out more information about the show, visit artsaltlake.org/production/jim-brickman-joyful-christmas.
Cutline: Jim Brickman is coming to Utah as part of his annual Christmas tour. (Courtesy photo)