Jim Brickman has traveled the world to perform, but he especially loves playing Savannah.
"From the environment and art and the whole vibe of the place, to the feeling, the charm, the beauty," the renowned pianist says. "All of that is a celebration for arts, music and food coming together."
Well known for his Christmas shows, Brickman's latest tour offers some variety.
"It's called 'The Love Tour,' but it will definitely sneak in some Christmas," he says.
"It's a funny time, a kind of in-between time. If I say I'm coming in November, people say they're not ready for Christmas music yet.
"I don't like to do anything exclusively, so this will be a mix of love music and Christmas," Brickman says. "There'll be a lot of the hits and everything, but not 'Jingle Bells' from beginning to end."
The tour opened in China, where Brickman has many fans.
"It's all about the melody," he says. "There's a beauty about the piano that people really can connect with. People have an affinity for the piano itself, whether the music is classical, jazz or romantic.
"There's so much culturally there in China, in so many kinds of ways," Brickman says.
"Most of the cities I'm playing have 2, 3, or 4 million people, yet most of us have never heard of them."
Traveling the world is enlightening, Brickman says.
"You have to look at it as an adventure," he says. "You have to have that spirit, otherwise you shouldn't do it. It's hard on the body, hard physically and mentally demanding."
Born in Cleveland, Brickman began taking piano lessons at age 5. While he studied composition and performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music, he also studied business at Case Western Reserve University.
After graduation, Brickman combined his love of music with his business acumen. Through his advertising company, The Brickman Arrangement, he wrote commercial jingles for companies such as McDonald's, Pontiac and Isuzu.
But Brickman is more than a musician. He's written two best-selling books, "Simple Things" and "Love Notes," and hosts a weekly syndicated radio show that is heard in Savannah from 8 a.m. to noon Sundays on WYKZ, 98.7, The River.
"It's four hours a week, so it's not like something I do every day," Brickman says. "I'm a very curious person by nature.
"I don't like to talk about myself that much, but what I have to say is in music," he says. "When we have guests on about fitness or travel or money or psychology, I learn something all the time."
Brickman has partnered with Target to sell his CDs. Currently, his albums "Sending You A Little Christmas" with Johnny Mathis and "Merry Christmas Darling" with Megan Hilty are available exclusively at Target.
"What I do is soothing, relaxing, romantic," Brickman says. "I truly believe there is a place for that in the world.
"At the same time as being a songwriter, I'm starting to be known in the industry as sort of a curator. I bring together people all kinds of genres, whether it's helping launch Lady Antebellum or doing a duet with Johnny Mathis.
"I'm known as a songwriter and producer who discovers young talent and brings it all together," Brickman says. "I still fulfill my dream of being able to perform live, which I love to do more than anything."
After 20 years in the business, Brickman feels he in more of a mature place. Somehow, he manages to find time to head up an annual fan cruise, too.
"I don't get tired of it," he says.
Starting with the release of "No Words," his debut album, in 1994, Brickman has perfected a style that has labeled him "America's Most Romantic Piano Sensation."
Brickman has won several awards. He has had more adult contemporary hits than any other artist during the past decade.
"I'm very careful that everything complements the hub of the wheel," Brickman says. "These are all spokes of the whole sensibility, which is emotional connection.
"It's inspirational, it's hopeful, it's positive, soothing, relaxing. None of the things I do are off that. Even though I'm busy, a lot of the stuff I do and the choices I make complement the core."
Appearing with Brickman in Savannah will be Luke McMaster and Anne Cochran.
"Luke toured with me all last year," Brickman says. "We had a very big hit with 'Good Morning, Beautiful.' He has written for Rihanna and Justin Timberlake and gone on tour with 'N Sync.
"He's really charming, plays the guitar," Brickman says. "I think what he does is a nice complement with what I do."
Cochran has performed with Brickman in Savannah before.
"There's an expectation, especially from core fans that know our history and appreciate the authenticity of our relationship," Brickman says.
"When we perform live, there's got to be a lot of incentive to convince people to come see us. There are expectations we have to fulfill and go beyond.
"When we go to a performance and see people are there because they love it, we must respect our audience," he says. "We must be funny, charming, not phony, which is why the tour continues to be popular."
The show is Broadway style.
"We're doing it in theaters where people are used to seeing plays, so it's a theater experience," he says. "It's about the relationships we build with people one-on-one. That's something I'm really proud of.
"I put myself in the position of the audience," he says. "It's clean, family-friendly, funny, charming and has diversity in it, with a little bit of this, a little bit of that, all stuff that good live entertainment should be and what live Broadway entertainment is. I wouldn't want to be bored."