Jim Brickman in Omaha, NE – 12-4-06

On January 23, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

Photos from the Jim Brickman Concert

Omaha, NE

December 4, 2006

A Family of Fans …

On December 4, 2006, I traveled with my mother Hope, my sisters Kim and Kysa and my daughter Jennifer to Omaha, Neb., to see the pianist/composer Jim Brickman in concert. I’d interviewed Jim the month before (read the interview here) and my family and I — all of whom are huge Jim Brickman fans — looked forward to and enjoyed the concert more than I can possibly say. This “girl’s night out” is one we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

A special thanks to Melissa Kucirek from Exceptional Artists for lining up the interview and so graciously working with us on the tickets. You are helping create the very best of memories.

NOTE: Click any image for larger slideshow with photo descriptions.

Jim Brickman – Simple Things 10-18-01

On December 10, 2011, in , by Jody Ewing

Weekender logo

Pianist Brickman Strikes Chord with First Book

By Jody Ewing

October 18, 2001

Simple Things by Jim Brickman

More information

For more information visit jimbrickman.com

Jim Brickman says he is driven. If he decides he wants to do something, he figures out a way to do it. If he wants to meet someone, chances are they’ll soon be chatting. If he wants to travel to some faraway land, that’s usually where he ends up.

Always experimenting with new frontiers, the pianist/composer of gold albums such as “By Heart” and “Destiny” has struck a romantic chord with millions of fans worldwide. His platinum-selling “Picture This,” which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s New Age chart in 1997, went on to become one of the best-selling Windham Hill releases ever, and featured the hit single “Valentine,” sung by country darling Martina McBride. “The Gift,” also released in 1997, featured vocals by Collin Raye and Susan Ashton and became another romantic classic.

Born in Cleveland, Brickman has soared to success in every field he’s entered, including that of host for the syndicated weekly radio show “Your Weekend with Jim Brickman,” a three-hour program of the best in adult contemporary music airing on more than 175 stations across the country.

Given his driven nature and his ever-growing global audience, it seemed only natural that Brickman’s creativity would spill over into other ventures. The result: publishing his first book “Simple Things,” on precisely the same day as his seventh career album, also titled “Simple Things.”

The book, penned with nationally syndicated entertainment writer Cindy Pearlman, is a collection of short essays about savoring life’s pleasures and getting back to the basics in simplifying our lives. The idea for the book took hold as Brickman worked on his new album.

“The concept of the CD sort of came out of my desire to try to get back to basics in my life, because it was getting so out of hand,” Brickman said in a phone interview from his home in California. “I realized that so much of what I did had to do with getting on airplanes and running around the country, talking to myself, checking my e-mail. And what I write about so much is people and emotions and the way people connect. I was just noticing that the world is not as much that way anymore as it used to be.”

Brickman said that with his new album, he wanted to do something that had a message but still connected to his music.

“The book idea came out of that, when I realized that it was a much bigger concept,” he said. “I had a lot of thoughts that I couldn’t convey through music and that’s when it all came to be.”

The essays ponder life’s big issues such as love, health, money and children, and celebrate the ordinary miracles that make each day special. The essay “Spiritual Things” addresses the concept of faith and the importance of having something to believe in these days. He writes of how music hovers on the fringes of faith in the passage, “And this is as ethereal as I get, but sometimes I’ll play something, and I truly wonder how this music came out of me. I really do honestly sit there with my hands on the keys, and I feel like something or someone else is guiding them.”

The book also addresses the concepts of “childhood things,” “the guilt thing,” “risky things” and “first things first.”

Editors at Amazon.com said, “‘Simple Things’ is mostly about opening your eyes. To life. To love. To friendship.”

Brickman says it’s all about keeping things in perspective.

“Our lives have become so complicated, and mostly it has to do with how competitive the world is,” Brickman says. “To keep up with everybody else, people start saying ‘Well, they’ve got a cell phone so I’d better have a cell phone’ or, ‘They’re calling me, I’d better return their call.’ It’s almost made our lives more complicated to have all these tools to communicate. There’s kind of no hiding, no quiet time anymore.”

Brickman, who performs in more than 150 cities each year, isn’t suggesting we give up cell phones or computers, but rather find a way of keeping our priorities in check.

“I don’t think it’s so much giving up, I think it’s more keeping it in perspective,” he says. “It’s saying ‘Do I really need to be carrying my cell to meals with friends, and if it does ring, do I really need to answer it?'”

In a day when many people are “available all the time,” Brickman recommends taking time alone to think without interruption. Simple things one can do include calling an adult version of a “snow day,” and making it a personal day. Or vowing not to check e-mail for one 24-hour period. And learning to say no and learning how to listen. Really listen.

Though the book and album share the same title, Brickman says they are not a companion book/CD. The album adheres to the simplicity theme in its own definitive way, reflecting what Brickman calls the simplicity of piano music and simple melodies. Ten melodic, nonvocal tracks usher in Brickman’s indelible romantic instrumentals. “The Promise” is a haunting, contemplative motif brushed with violin and rich orchestrations. The classically influenced ensemble “Another Tuesday Morning,” first evokes a sense of sadness at what may be a typical day, then swells in a crescendo that leaves the listener feeling both joyful and triumphant.

“The masters of the romantic song, ranging from Sinatra to Mancini, have found new company with the musical talent of Jim Brickman,” wrote Cynthia Smith in a recent issue of Kansas City Public Television Magazine. “His recordings have struck a special chord, molding the timeless beauty of classical influences with the fresh, lively energy of contemporary pop music.”

It is that crossover appeal of both pop and classical music that builds on Brickman’s foundation, as is witnessed in his latest release.

The final three tracks give voice to the album with “A Mother’s Day,” “It Must Be You,” and the title track “Simple Things,” a pop dazzler written by Brickman and award-winning writers Beth Neilsen Chapman and Darrel Brown with Rebecca Lynn-Howard on vocals. The song reinforces the album’s theme of celebrating what really matters – the sun, the moon, the stars, church bells ringing, the thrill of taking chances, the beating of two hearts – and other simple things that “just are.” The song is sunny, uplifting, energizing the soul. Listeners are left with the sense that in the end, everything matters.

And what really matters to this man of many talents?

“Taking my concert live,” says Brickman, whose PBS special “My Romance: An Evening with Jim Brickman,” has served as a PBS fundraiser for two years running. “I love concert performing pretty much more than anything.”

Visit Jim’s website at: www.jimbrickman.com


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Jim Brickman Holiday Homecoming 12-9-08

On December 10, 2011, in , by Jody Ewing

Jim Brickman concert banner


Jim Brickman Holiday Homecoming Concert Live in Omaha

By Jody Ewing
December 9, 2008

The warmth and intimacy of Jim Brickman’s holiday concerts have been compared to a gathering of friends and family – a special homecoming – that resonates with the true spirit of Christmas. For over a decade, his holiday concerts have been musical homecomings for fans of the dynamic composer, recording artist, radio personality and concert headliner. And every year, more people discover the magic of Jim Brickman’s piano artistry and his ability to capture the spirit of the season. Is it any wonder that Jim Brickman’s name has become synonymous with new holiday classics and brilliant interpretations of beloved carols?

Families and fans will have the chance to experience that homecoming once again when Jim Brickman performs Tuesday, December 9, 7:30 p.m., at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater located at 409 South 16th Street. Tickets are priced at $53, $43 and $33 and can be purchased at the Ticket Omaha Box Office, 1314 Douglas On the Mall, charge by phone at 402-345-0606 or online at www.ticketomaha.com.

Joining Jim this holiday season is singer Anne Cochran and electric violinist Tracy Silverman.

Brickman’s 2007 holiday concert tour featured gifted violinist David Klinkenberg and Lonestar’s former lead singer and songwriter Richie McDonald. McDonald is the voice behind “Coming Home for Christmas,” a beautiful song included on Brickman’s Homecoming CD.


“We celebrate the feeling of home and family by creating a warm, inviting family environment onstage, then sharing that with our audience,” said Brickman. His two guest performers have toured with him throughout the holiday season for over ten years.

His holiday concerts have also been homecomings for thousands of audience members who return year after year to experience the spirit of the season in an unforgettable evening of music, laughter and memories.

“Our audiences share a lot of joyful spirit with us. It’s a return to the simple traditions of the season, with great music and camaraderie,” he says.

A native of Cleveland, Jim Brickman began playing piano at the age of five and studied at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music. Since the release of his debut album in 1994, he has charted more adult radio hits than any other artist, including memorable songs like “Valentine,” “The Gift,” “Sending You a Little Christmas,” “Love of My Life,” “Destiny,” “Simple Things” and “Peace.”

Jim has collaborated with gifted musical artists like Martina McBride, Michael W. Smith, Kenny Loggins, Carly Simon, Herb Alpert, Sara Evans, Gerald Levert, Richie McDonald, Collin Raye, Pam Tillis, Michael Bolton, Donny Osmond and Olivia Newton-John.

TV audiences have seen Jim perform on ABC’s Gala for the President at Ford’s Theatre, Good Morning America, Today, Extra and Regis and Kelly.

Jim also has taped PBS concert specials: Jim Brickman at the Magic Kingdom: The Disney Songbook (2005), My Romance, (2000) and Love Songs and Lullabies (2002).

Visit Jim’s website at: www.jimbrickman.com


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A Conversation with Jim Brickman 11-24-06

On December 10, 2011, in , by Jody Ewing

A Conversation with Jim Brickman

By Jody Ewing
November 24, 2006

Jim Brickman (Courtesy photo)

Jim Brickman taught me the meaning of the word escape. I don’t mean by the ESCAPE  the Platinum-selling recording artist’s debut album for the SLG label  though it certainly contributed to my own “creative epiphany,” a term Brickman uses to describe how he came to record his new soundtrack for busy lives.

Inspired by a young couple who confided they used his music to relax and unwind after a stressful day, the multi-talented composer and concert headliner says he realized people need music for all kinds of reasons. He acknowledged its value as a healing tool and soothing antidote by gathering together some of today’s brightest young rising stars to create an original collection of romantic piano solos and inspiring vocals.

Brickman — who juggles his music career with his weekly radio show “Your Weekend with Jim Brickman” — is now giving his fans the chance to escape with him as part of a five-month North American tour he began earlier this month that will bring him to Omaha’s Orpheum Theater on Monday, December 4. Joining him onstage will be the young brilliant acoustic violinist David Klinkenberg and vocalist Jake Simpson, the latter whom Oprah Winfrey championed as a “promising discovery.”

(Courtesy photo)

My own epiphany, however, struck after speaking with Jim by telephone in preparation for this article. I’d interviewed Jim once before  nine days after 9-11, in fact  for an earlier feature on his first book Simple Things, and its same-titled CD. This time, though, felt remarkably different, and one of Jim’s comments helped me discover why.

“This is like the best interview I’ve had in months and months,” he confided from the airport while waiting for his plane. “It’s not really an interview, but more like we’re just having a conversation.”

And here I’d been worried he’d think I wasn’t asking enough questions about his new album. But, it wasn’t my style to ask the same questions I knew he must be asked over and over again. I like to dig deeper, to read all the other interviews and then ask the unexpected, to find that one question no one else has asked before.

Ironically, this time when I sat down to write the article, I found myself staring at a blank computer screen wondering how I possibly could distance myself from this story. How could I make the writer “invisible” as my professors taught so many years ago, when Jim Brickman’s music  and how it came to seep into and wrap itself around my own family members’ lives  had become so deeply personal?

(Courtesy photo)

In addition, another rule beckoned: With Brickman’s host of accomplishments, where was my slant? His concert and latest CD? His ability to seamlessly cross genres while keeping close the very essence of what makes Jim Brickman’s music unmistakably Jim Brickman’s sound? How he’s changing not only the music industry but entertainment’s landscape in developing and opening up new paths connecting artists directly with their fans?

Ultimately, the slant came down to one universal theme: Jim Brickman’s desire to give something back.

I spoke to Jim four days after the sudden death of Gerald Levert, who appears on the Escape album with Jim in the duet, “My Angel.” I’ll let our conversation speak for itself.

JE: Hi Jim. Thank you for calling me.

JB: Of course.

JE: First, I wanted to offer my sympathies on the loss of your friend Gerald Levert.

JB: Yes, thank you. Very, very said. It’s so sad.

JE: It is. I was just listening to his song a little earlier, and though I know it’s a lullaby, it seems almost prophetic.

JB: I know. I feel the same way. It’s angels and everything, and it’s extremely poignant that way.

JE: Will you be able to attend his funeral this Friday in Cleveland?

JB: Unfortunately, no. I’m going to be on tour, and very sad I can’t make it.

JE: How will Gerald’s death affect your upcoming concerts, insofar as addressing the loss with your audience?

JB: I always feel like honesty is the best policy. When I talk about the album and I talk about the duet partners I’m going to address it in that area of the show. I’m not going to dedicate the song or anything like that, though I may dedicate another song. I just don’t want to set a complete cast over the show because you can’t do that. But I will definitely address it, no doubt.

JE: Whereas rather than being maudlin, it celebrates his life.

JB: Exactly.

JE: You’ve said loyal fans inspired the idea for Escape, and with your Piano Sensations contest and new website and upcoming cruise, you’ve actually set somewhat of a precedent for new ways of artists getting directly involved with their fans. How will this change the landscape of interaction between fans and musicians?

JB: Wow. Wonderful question. I think because the music is so intimate, and because it is a solo performance primary, it is by nature a more personal experience than to listen to a band or something like that. Because I write all the music myself, it’s even more personal. And people take it to mean whatever they happen to feel at any given time. Some people find solace, some people find comfort, some find a celebration of an important emotional time in their life, and the music is really used in so many ways. People wake up in the morning to it as their alarm clock. You can’t get much more personal than that. And of course we all use music as the backdrop of our lives. But, because it is so intimate, I feel I have a responsibility to communicate with the audience maybe a little more so than the average singer would.

JE: What was it like working with Sara Evans?

JB: It was great! You know, she’s a sweet girl, and she’s talented, and when I recorded with her she was also training for Dancing with the Stars so she was very busy but she loved the song and she loved the tone and the meaning of the song, especially for her kids and things like that because it’s about wishing somebody close to you all good things.

JE: Now, the young acoustic violinist David Klinkenberg, you discovered him in the Northwest?


Who: Jim Brickman
What: Holiday Concert
When: Monday, Dec. 4, 2006
Where: Orpheum Theater
409 South 16th St., Omaha
Tickets: www.omahaperformingarts.org
Charge-by-phone: 402-345-0606
Latest Album: Escape
More on Jim at: www.JimBrickman.com

JB: I did.

JE: Can you tell me a little bit about him?

JB: He’s very, very talented and he’s going to be on the holiday tour with me. He’s just tremendous. There’s a spirit, something about him, in his playing that… I don’t know… you hear it and it just transports you. But live, he’s especially poignant.

JE: You’ve said you’re not a great singer but do sing a bit in concert. Will you be singing in Omaha?

JB: I do. And I will. I’ve got a male singer on the tour, but I do some group singing and I think I’m going to be singing one song from my new Christmas album, the Christmas romance album.

JE: I’ve noticed your website not only has a whole new look, but a host of new features like the Media Center, E-cards, a Scrapbook and other fan-related options. What new technology or design technique do you find is most effective for interacting with fans?

JB: Well, first and foremost, I want it to be easy. I want it to be really easy. Easy to buy something, easy to do business, easy to have good customer service, easy to write a fan letter or to communicate, easy to find directions to a tour or city. I think the most important thing is not trying to be so overcome with the ego of the site that you want it to do all these things just to look pretty. I really want it to be there to be used and to be where all of the audience can connect with it.

JE: It’s set up very well, easy to navigate, and I’ve found the pages load quickly, even with all the graphics.

JB: I run a company [Brickhouse] that does web design for other artists, and so I pride myself in that because we do the web sites for Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant and Mark Schultz and a lot of other people.

JE: You also have your radio show, “Your Weekend with Jim Brickman.” Can you contrast the difference between being interviewed versus you doing the interviewing?

JB: Well, I’m so used to it because I’ve done the show for ten years, and I love talking to other people about what inspires them and make them create and all that, and I think it’s fascinating.

JE: Which one do you find easier?

JB: If the interview is good  like you ask really interesting questions  then it’s fun to talk to you. If it’s just the basic 4-11, then it’s not that fun. Because all that stuff you can find very easily on the website. But I like both. After a number of years, you kind of get sick of talking about yourself.

JE: Well, that’s a first. I haven’t heard anyone say that before.


JB: Well, you know, I mean I love doing what I do, and sometimes I like to articulate it, but not always.

JE: I was thinking about one of my favorite songs — The Gift — and I notice that in a lot of your songs there’s a metaphor of a gift. What was the most unexpected or wonderful gift you ever received?

JB: Oh wow. Well, I’m not very materialistic as is evident by the tone of the songs. I really prefer gifts at non-gift times. Like one time I was dating this person and I was sick with a cold but I was on tour, and I got a knock at the door and it was the concierge of the hotel bringing me all this flu and cold medicine in a basket with all kinds of stuff they had called the hotel and arranged. Stuff like that, to me, is more compelling than just an iPod or something.

JE: That’s an excellent answer.

JB: It’s not a present, but it’s a gift.

JE: With the release of your album ‘Grace’ — and not just you but with other musicians as well — we’re starting to see songs about God and faith crossing over into mainstream sales rather than just the Christian market.

JB: Yes, you’re right. You’re right.

JE: Do you attribute that to the war or is it just the timing is right or is it people are just finally connecting with their faith?

JB: I think it’s all of those things. I think people want to believe in something, and especially at a time when the world is so chaotic. It’s a time when people want to have a faith and want to believe in their faith.

JE: Is there any other Christian composer you’d like to collaborate or work with on a song or duet?

JB: I’ve always wanted to do something with Steven Curtis Chapman and always wanted to do something with Amy Grant.

JE: But you do Amy’s website.

JB: Yeah (laughter), and we’ve talked about doing something but the right time hasn’t come along yet.

JE: When I talked to you in 2001, you said one day you might like to write a theatrical production, like a stage musical or something. Are you still thinking about that?

JB: I am. I am. It’s not in the works but is something I’m definitely thinking about doing because I love theater. I love live theater. I think there’s nothing like going into a theater and being entertained, and especially with the fact that music is comprised these days where you don’t necessarily have to be talented to make a good record because of all the gizmos that you can use. The one thing you can’t fake is live performing.

JE: Tell me a little bit about your Piano Sensations contest.

JB: We had some great entries, and the winner is going to perform with me on stage in Chicago during the Christmas tour. [The contest] was specifically designed for pianists because singers always seem to be the draw for things like American Idol and contests like that. As a piano player and as somebody who has music books people take piano lessons from, I felt like it’d be kind of cool if there was some sort of mentorship going on somewhere in my career.

JE: Why is it so important to you to give back to others?

JB: Well, because I didn’t really have anybody guiding me growing up, and I had to sort of find my own way. And you know, we all have to in many ways, but if I had had somebody who believed in what I was passionate about in my career to ask questions of or to watch and learn from, even if I didn’t know them, I think it would have helped me.

JE: But you’ve done very well despite that. You have a natural talent, kind of an innate sense for the music.

JB: Thank you.

JE: But you don’t see a lot of musicians who are willing to interact like that with their fans and give back and draw them into the process. It’s like they are just slightly out of reach.

JB: Yeah, well I want to have fun doing it, and if I become elitist, then it’s not really fun anymore.

JE: When I last spoke with you, you said your favorite song was ‘Angel Eyes’ because it “defined your style.” With all the songs you’ve done since, is it still your favorite?

JB: It is. It is. And it’s for the same reason.

JE: I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage about how every person that comes in and out of our lives teaches us something or somehow makes us a better person. What lesson did you learn from Gerald [Levert]?

JB: Again, I have to be honest about it. I’ve had a lot of duet partners and singers, but Gerald was doing it for the right reasons. He was not punching a time clock. He wasn’t trying to fit in the vocal session between [other things]. And I so admired that. And it was such a pleasure. I remember in the session I asked if we could film something for my website, something of him singing, and he said ‘Yeah! Of course!’ And he was there by himself, no entourage, and it just reminded me why I’m doing this, that there are really wonderful people like him who are out there and just doing it to make music because it’s their gift and it’s who they are. And you know, you can feel that in people. He was very satisfied. You could tell after he’d sung that it gave him joy to share his talent. I look at his picture on my website and it’s like this… such a joyful expression and so happy. And he lived in Cleveland; he didn’t live in L.A. He stayed in Cleveland and he had kids and his wife, and… I don’t know… it made it even sadder because of it.

JE: With some people, it never goes to their head. They never forget where they came from, and they stay with it because they’d do it even if they weren’t getting paid for it.

JB: Yes, of course, of course. I just think, well, I’m doing this because I love it and for no other reason. So I think he taught me that, and it makes me really sad to talk about it because he was just such a wonderful soul, and it’s just a terrible loss. And so young. Five years younger than me. We were teasing about it that day, that we went to the same high school, and he said “Yeah, but I’m way younger than you are,” and I’m just thinking Oh God, and this banter on stage, I wish you could hear it. I’m hoping we’ll put [our intro banter] on our website. He’d missed a sound check and I didn’t know if he was going to show up or not. I was on stage introducing him and I didn’t know if he was going to be there. And I said “And now, ladies and gentlemen,” and it was kind of like The Sound of Music … “and now, the family Von Trapp,” and sure enough, there he came.

JE: I hope you do include it there.

JB: I will work on doing that. Absolutely. Well, Jody, I’m just jumping on an airplane but want to thank you so much for your time.

JE: Thank you, Jim, and I look forward to seeing you December 4th.

JB: Please make sure you come up to me, okay? I would be remiss in not thanking you in person. Okay?

JE: Okay. I will do that. I’ll see you then!

JB: Thank you so much.

Jody Ewing is a freelance writer based in western Iowa. She has had more than 400 feature articles published and is the author of the book “One Way: Bumps and Detours on the Road to Adulthood.”

True to her word, Jody — along with her mother, daughter and two sisters — attended Jim’s concert and met with him afterwards. Click Here for the photos.

Copyright © Jody Ewing
November 24, 2006

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Jim Brickman Homecoming Concert 11-28-07

On December 8, 2011, in , by Jody Ewing

Brickman Celebrates Home and Family Onstage in Holiday Homecoming Concert Rich with Camaraderie and Musical Talent


Jim Brickman and Richie McDonald

Jim Brickman and Richie McDonald (Courtesy photo)

By Jody Ewing
November 28, 2007

‘Tis the season for Christmas carols, festive parties and exchanging gifts, and bestselling recording artist Jim Brickman is no stranger to any of the three.

Ever since his song “The Gift” became a huge holiday hit, people have made his holiday music as much a part of their Christmas celebration as Jingle Bells and boughs of holly. For over a decade, his holiday concerts have been festive musical homecomings for a growing number of fans of the dynamic composer, radio personality and concert headliner.

But it is in the sharing – the onstage exchanging of musical talent both fresh and familiar – where the Gold and Platinum selling artist captures the very essence of the significant role music plays in so many lives. The warmth and intimacy of Brickman’s holiday concerts have been compared to a gathering of friends and family that resonates with true Christmas spirit. Listening is like coming home.

“We celebrate the feeling of home and family by creating a warm, inviting family environment onstage, then sharing that with our audience,” Brickman says of the holiday tour.

Homecoming is Jim’s aptly titled newest holiday album and also the theme for his 2007 holiday concert tour, where he shares the spotlight with gifted violinist David Klinkenberg, Emmy award-winning songwriter Victoria Shaw, and Richie McDonald, the former lead singer and songwriter behind one of America’s most successful country bands, Lonestar. The three will perform with Brickman on Wednesday, November 28, at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, SD, before heading on to the Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee, WI, on the 29th and the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, IN, November 30th.

As the voice of Lonestar, McDonald launched such huge hits as “Amazed,” “My Front Porch Looking In” and the song that’s become a special favorite of the U.S. Military and their families at home, “I’m Already There.”

McDonald also is the voice behind “Coming Home for Christmas,” a beautiful song on Brickman’s new Homecoming CD. The CD is filled with “Brickmanized” holiday favorites as well as other soon-to-be classics like “I Heard the Bells” (featuring Anne Cochran and Peter White) and a very special holiday performance of the late Gerald Levert’s”My Angel.”

David Klinkenberg

David Klinkenberg (Courtesy photo)

David Klinkenberg and Tracy Silverman also make special guest appearances on the Homecoming album.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of Richie’s work,” said Brickman, who not only invited McDonald to co-write the song, but also to kick off his solo career by joining him on the holiday tour this year. “Our audiences share a lot of joyful spirit with us, and it becomes such a positive, rewarding family experience. It’s a return to the simple traditions of the season, with great music and camaraderie.”

Each year, as more and more people and fans have discovered the Jim Brickman holiday magic, his name has become synonymous with new holiday classics and brilliant interpretations of beloved carols. Another of his songs, “Sending You A Little Christmas,” also has become a holiday standard.

All of Jim Brickman’s Christmas concerts are special homecomings: for himself, his musical guest artists, and the thousands of audience members who return year after year to experience the spirit of the season in an evening of magical music.

Slideshow from the Jim Brickman Concert in Sioux Falls, SD
With Richie McDonald, Victoria Shaw, and David Klinkenberg
November 28, 2007 


Jody Ewing is a freelance writer based in western Iowa and will travel to Sioux Falls – along with six other family members – to the holiday concert that’s become one of her family’s annual traditions.

Read Jody’s earlier interview with Jim Brickman here.

Visit Jim’s website at: www.jimbrickman.com



On November 22, 2011, in , by Jody Ewing

Videos and Photo Slideshows


An eclectic collection of slideshows and videos I either put together myself … or news reports and/or other stories involving my family, my work, or where one of us was interviewed.

You may either view the stand-alone videos directly on this page by clicking the photos, or click on the hyperlink below any photo to visit the individual page where you’ll still find the video along with any accompanying story or summary.

P.S. There’s still more to come. It just takes time to get them here.


Iowans Killed in Iraq and Afghanistan
Slideshow compiled by Jody Ewing
Click Here for detailed information about each veteran.



A short “iMovie” trailer I made in 2012 depicting
my family’s past Christmas holidays.



Family Moments
Made for Mom and Siblings Christmas 2007
























KTIV-TV Channel 4 reports on the Iowa Cold Cases website
and Earl Thelander death — June 9, 2008









Behind the scenes at Barack Obama’s “Hope, Action, Change”

live webcast — Onawa, Iowa, March 31, 2007



On November 20, 2011, in , by Jody Ewing

Feature Stories and Other Articles

Here you’ll find links to some of my feature stories and other articles. Many of these were first published in the Sioux City Journal or the Weekender. As time allows, I hope to eventually scan other favorites from newsprint copy and include them here as well.
Defining a Good Man

Hope Thelander and Gov. Bill Richardson

In short excerpts from her book-in-progress “Kids, Dogs and Democrats Running Wild: Campaigning for Sanity in Iowa,” Jody talks about what led up to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s visit to her mother’s home in September 2007. Yes, Gov. Richardson was a presidential candidate at the time, but this private no-press-allowed visit had more to do with one woman’s story and two men who never had the chance to meet than it did with shoring up voter support.


Homecoming: Jim Brickman’s Annual Holiday Concert 2007

Jody and her family are once again off to see composer and bestselling recording artist Jim Brickman perform with guests during this year’s Homecoming holiday concert.

A Conversation with Jim Brickman

Jody talks with composer and platinum-selling recording artist Jim Brickman about his music and Holiday Concert Tour.

Bridging Cultural Gaps Through Music: A Talk with Brulé’s Paul LaRoche

Adopted at birth off the Lower Brule Sioux Indian Reservation, Paul LaRoche discovered his Lakota heritage in 1993 after the death of both adoptive parents. The discovery of his true heritage greatly affected LaRoche, who turned his powerful feelings to humanitarian causes through music and later was selected as a musical ambassador and speaker for the the UN Peace Conference.


West Monona studentsMemorial Courtyard, Amphitheater Celebrates Late Student’s Life

Students and faculty at West Monona High School in Onawa, Iowa will never forget Andrew “Big A” Merritt. When the 17-year-old died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident, his parents orchestrated a befitting tribute.


Restoration Captures Grandeur of Orpheum Theatre

Sparkling crystal chandeliers hang elegantly in the lobby, cherub and swan sconces populate the walls, and the newly restored auditorium boasts a gold-leafed, hand-glazed ceiling and brilliant chandelier; it’s a bit like stepping back in time.

Akron Opera House Sets Stage for 100th Anniversary

As the Akron, Iowa, Opera house gears up for its 100th anniversary, community theatre board members are busy with preparations for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

Blencoe Builds New Home for Fire Department

On Christmas Eve in 1998, the Blencoe Volunteer Fire Department faced a disaster. A train with the Union Pacific Railroad derailed at 6 a.m., overturning an anhydrous tank and spewing out 40,000 gallons of anhydrous. Nearly five years later, they faced another type of crisis.

After 26-Year Hiatus, Morningside Wrestlers Head to NAIA Championships

Morningside College’s first-year head wrestling coach Tim Jager takes six first-year wrestlers to 48th Annual NAIA championships.


Baby robin hatching from eggUnexpected Art: Finding Beauty Every Day

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” wrote the 19th-century author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in her novel “Molly Bawn.” More than 100 years after her death, the obscure romance writer’s words still ring true.




Restoring a treasure: Onawa craftsman helps rebuild organ for return to Orpheum Theatre

Once home to symphony performances and hosted by entertainers such as Fred Astaire and Katherine Hepburn, the Orpheum had become a one-story movie house with a projection booth carved into the former mezzanine balcony. There’d been no place – and no use – for the $60,000 Wurlitzer organ that for years had provided silent movie sound effects.

A Call to Serve: Today’s Fire Fighters

A day in the life with Sioux City, Iowa’s, Fire Station No. 3.

I Found it on eBay

Lee Holmes, a Vietnam veteran who spent 20 years with the Marine Corps, currently is using eBay to build a World War II collection of wartime memorabilia. He helps chart your course from search to sale.

Jim Brickman’s 2008 Holiday Homecoming Concert Live in Omaha

The warmth and intimacy of Jim Brickman’s holiday concerts have been compared to a gathering of friends and family – a special homecoming – that resonates with the true spirit of Christmas.

Navy Lt. Shane Osborn to honor ‘Heroes of Siouxland’ nominees and winners at American Red Cross Fundraiser

When relief funds for the Siouxland-based American Red Cross began to dwindle, public relations and financial development director Richard “Doc” Zortman knew he needed to call on a hero. The former Navy journalist and photographer had the perfect candidate in mind to help coordinate the planned two-day event.

Inside Iraq: Filmmaker chronicles Iraqis’, U.S. soldiers’ lives

Mike Shiley – photographer, filmmaker and free-lance journalist – spent two months in Iraq chronicling the lives of the Iraqi people and U.S. soldiers at the height of the conflict while on assignment for ABC News. His 80-minute film highlights the challenges, opportunities and inside lives in a visual – and visceral – behind-the-scenes journey.

Salinger’s Holden Caulfield Turns 50

As a rebellious teenager in “The Catcher in the Rye,” Holden Caulfield professes: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

First Lady promotes literacy, community with reading project

When the University of Iowa Center for the Book formed a committee of people to choose a book that all of Iowa would read, they had a few conditions. They were looking for a book by a midwestern author — not necessarily an Iowan — and they wanted an author that people hadn’t heard about or hadn’t read before. It had to be a book that could be read by a range of people, from all walks of life, and from ages of middle school on up.

They found their perfect read in Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, a novel that celebrates family, faith and America’s spirit.

Returning to ‘NAM

With conflict and war comes change, and Western Iowa Tech’s former Job Training Partners director Dennis Wolf has seen firsthand the horrors of war as well as thevalue of change. The Le Mars, Iowa, native Wolf – who served as a combat infantry soldier with the Army’s 4th Infantry Division from 1969-70 – journeyed to the country of a conflict that took more than 100,000 lives. It was the first time Wolf had set foot in Vietnam in more than 33 years.

Siouxland Sports Legend Al Buckingham

Coach Al Buckingham’s career spanned more than 60 years, and included stints at Morningside College, with the NAIA and with the Olympics.

Read-in Chain Pays Tribute to Black Writers

The Harlem Renaissance led to a flourishing of literature in the 1920s, with James Weldon Johnson editing “The Book of American Negro Poetry” in 1922. The book included works by Langston Hughes, one of the era’s most recognized writers who went on to publish “The Weary Blues” in 1926 and “Not Without Laughter” in 1930.

BookCrossing Combines Serendipity, Adventure

Some call it fate. Some call it karma. Whatever you want to call it, it’s that remarkable chain of events that occurs between two or more lives and one piece of literature. It also is the premise behind BookCrossing.com, an online site where members register books and release them “into the wild,” then follow the books’ journeys and the lives they happen to touch.


Forty Days and Forty Nights: Navy Corpsman scribes details of Iraqi War

” … I saw a faint outline of a person standing next to one of the smaller buildings, and, my hands on the trigger, yelled something like “Freeze!” but he disappeared with only a sidestep. I heard him call for the dog, and when a pickup passed by, the headlights showed a young boy — who couldn’t have been more than 10 — holding that dog …

.. I’d almost blasted a young boy the very first night of the war.”


9-11 Books Serve as Reminders, Help Heal

Nowhere more than in a bookstore is the message clearer: Americans will not forget 9-11. As the first anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches, we look back through the pages of a year marked with sadness and hope, heroism and loss.

Monona County Leads Iowa in Graying Population Trend

Monona County is the only Iowa county to have more people over age 65 than under 17. Population experts report that many rural Iowa counties could possess the same demographic characteristics in a few years. Monona County leaders address the issue in a two-part series.

Education, Economic Development Key in Battle for Young People

In less than a quarter-century, the West Monona Community School District has seen its enrollment drop from 1,100 students to 714. Though West Monona’s enrollment over the years has decreased 36 percent, no programs or co-curricular activities have been cut. In fact, the school has been adding.

Banned Books Week Celebrates 20th Year

People and groups of all persuasions, for all sorts of reasons, have attempted throughout history to suppress anything that conflicts with or anyone who disagrees with their own beliefs.


Johnny Cash and Hugh Waddell

Friends and Family Remember Johnny Cash

Most people knew him as “The Man in Black.” Many called him an icon, a true American treasure. Some called him by his given birth name – J.R. – but to those who loved and laughed with and knew Johnny Cash best, he was simply known as “John.”

“We receive many gifts during the course of our lives, not just on birthdays or at Christmas, and not all are wrapped,” Hugh Waddell states in his tribute book to his longtime family friend, John Cash.

In addition to Hugh, Weekender writer Jody Ewing also talks to “Cowboy” Jack Clement, W.S. Holland, and others who worked with and were closest to the late Cash.

Home were triple homicide occurredHorror of Triple Murder Lingers 30 Years Later
— the case that kindled a commitment

The first in my Sioux City, IA, cold case series — the 1974 triple slaying of two young men and a pregnant woman shot execution style in the home they shared — was published by the Weekender in May 2004 and set the stage for the Iowa Cold Cases website I launched the following year.

The site now includes information on hundreds of unsolved homicides and missing persons cases all across Iowa. In an unexpected twist of fate, my stepfather, Earl Thelander, was killed in 2007; his case also remains unsolved.


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