Thursday, April 24, 2008

On Stage with Jim Brickman

By Brian Baez
Brian is a Box Office Associate for Barksdale

This past Saturday I had the honor of performing with American’s leading romantic pianist, Jim Brickman, at the Southern Women’s Show here in Richmond. Here’s the scoop on how it all went down.

A few weeks ago, Jason Campbell, of Barksdale box office fame, called me from his car telling me that he just heard on the radio that Jim Brickman was having a concert and was looking for a vocalist to sing some of his songs. I immediately went online to find out what it was I needed to do. All he was asking for was a simple demo of you singing one of his songs in one take, with no edits, and a headshot. Easy! “I got this!” I thought. So I called up a friend of mine who had all the recording equipment, and on one rainy afternoon I recorded “The Love I Found In You” and sent it in.

An opportunity like this doesn’t come around every day, so when it did, I jumped on it. I didn’t know what to expect. How many others had heard about the competition? There are a lot of really talented singers out there; do I really have a shot? All I knew is that I wanted it more than I wanted any other performing job in the past. Here was an opportunity to make an impression on one of the most internationally respected musicians of today. After I put my package in the mail, the rest was out of my hands. All I could do was wait, and hope that fate would smile on me.

I was in the Barksdale box office when I felt my phone vibrate with a number I didn’t recognize. “OMG! OMG! Anna-Marie, I think this is it!” I rushed out of the office and answered the call.


”Hi! Is this Brian?!


”Brian, this is Wendy calling from Jim Brickman’s office.”

”Oh My God! I think I know why you’re calling and I’m very, very happy!”

“HAHA! Well you should be. I’m calling to tell you that Jim was very impressed with your demo and he would love for you to join him in concert on Saturday!”

Through the box office glass I could see Anna-Marie jumping up and down in her seat her hand waving madly in front of her face! “OMG!” I thought, “Is this for real?!”

Well, it was for real because the next thing I knew, Cheryl Miller from Channel 6 was calling me to ask me to come into the station and join her on the 12 o’clock news on Thursday to introduce me and talk a little about the concert.

Thursday came and went, and the interview was short, but very fun, and now my focus shifted to Saturday’s perfor…

“Wait! What am I gonna wear?!?!”

I arrived at the Richmond Raceway Complex on Saturday to find the parking lot packed full of cars. That’s when my nerves started and my sweat glands kicked into overdrive. I met up with Claire, Jim’s assistant and publicist, who was smart, trendy and had a witty sense of humor. We instantly clicked, and I emotionally crossed my fingers hoping that that counted for something. I waited around for a while and make sure that my family got in ok and had the chance to find good seats. Then I went backstage and waited to finally meet the man who thought my demo wasn’t half bad. Claire came around the corner and was accompanied by Jim, who looked calm, cool, and nothing like I thought he would!… Just kidding! He looks exactly like his album covers. With a big smile he introduced himself and told me how excited he was to hear me live.

The concert started, and from the moment Jim… yes, we’re on a first name basis… walked onstage, he held the audience in the palm of his hand. After a few numbers, Jim started talking about his search to find a vocalist for this concert. At this point I had no clue as to how many demos he had received, but then I heard him say that we got over 300 CDs from singers from all over the state! My heart was racing as Jim introduced me. I could hear my family and friends from Barksdale who came to support me shouting as I walked out onstage.

The first song went off without a hitch. It was the same as the one I sent in. Jim then mentioned that that was the one song he sang, and was now going to have to find another! After asking me a little about myself, he asked “What else do you wanna do?!”

“Let’s do that Michael W. Smith one, Love Of My Life!” I replied. “Oh, you mean the one that I wrote and he sang?!” Jim was so breezy onstage that it made performing with him feel natural and easy. The banter back and forth was quite humorous as we made little jokes about this or that. I could tell the audience was enjoying themselves as much as I was.

After I finished my songs, I waited backstage again for him to finish the rest of his set. I am always my own worst critic, but when he came backstage he was most complimentary. He then asked if I’d like to join him at the booth to do CD signings. Could this get any better? I felt like such a rock star getting usher in a small entourage to the main booth where there was a line that seemed forever long waiting to say hi. The reception was overwhelming. Folks from all over the state had so many wonderful things to say, and were eagerly waiting to hear wonderful things from me in the future.

I would love to get to work with Jim Brickman again, perhaps on his next tour. His tour manager Wendy said not to rule that out, “You never know” she said when she called ,”he may ask you to go on tour!”

Looking back on the whole week’s events there’s only one word I could use to accurately describe what I experienced. Surreal.

- Brian Baez


pnlkotula said...

Congratulations Brian! What an incredible experience. I hope someone video taped it for you.


Anonymous said...


What a terrific experience. And it is so refreshing to know that someone of Jim Brickman's level of celebrity is actually a kind, genuine person. I know this will be something you always remember, but it may also be the beginning of more fun opportunities for you. I enjoyed reading your entry - good writing!
-- Judi