For the joy of music
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in The Messenger’s annual Hometown Pride publication on June 24, 2022, featuring people and organizations from Fort Dodge and the surrounding area who are making a difference in their communities.
Brady O’Brien has a gift.
The recent St. Edmond graduate felt it at a very early age. He would sit next to his mother, Katrina, and absorb everything as a budding piano virtuoso.
As the 18-year-old O’Brien sharpened his skills and reached an age of more independence, he had a choice to make: parlay his individual talents into a vehicle for future financial gain, or spread this passion to as many people and communities as possible through the sheer joy of music.
“I have many different sticks in the fire right now when it comes to what I want to do for the rest of my life,” O’Brien said. “Many people will say that they are going to do music only, and while I would love to do that, it can be tough to just live on music alone.
“My long-term goals in music are to continue my nonprofit and use my music to help raise money for those who are doing good in our world, along with those in need. I also plan on continuing to write music and arrange shows.”
Last December, O’Brien hosted “A Very Merry Christmas” to a packed house at Decker Auditorium. In April, he held the Easter program, “A Cross and a Crown” at Trinity United Methodist Church — again, to a standing-room-only crowd.
On July 15, O’Brien’s next project — a private patriotic rock show called “One Nation Under God” — raised money for the military at Veterans Memorial Park.
“Living in Fort Dodge has allowed me to meet some incredible people — not only in the music world, but just in everyday life,” O’Brien said. “During my shows, when I get to see familiar faces, it amazes me to see how our community supports live music, the fine arts, and organizations doing great things. I feel very loved after each show because everyone from the community greets me after with big smiles and strong hugs.
“That’s why I love doing what I do; there is nothing better than seeing a smile on someone’s face because of the power of music.”
O’Brien’s spirit comes to life in front of 88 keys, pedals and the familiar frame of a piano.
“I first started playing when I was 5 (years old),” O’Brien said. “I started lessons with Barbara Kondrath, and after she passed, I continued with Andrea Minikis.
“Growing up, I always saw my mom play piano for many different things: church, choirs at school, and so much more. I began taking piano seriously because I wanted to be just like her and be able to sit down and play any song that I wanted.”
The reaction to those performances kept him coming back.
“Seeing people’s faces and hearing their comments … I believe that music is very powerful, and I want to share that love of music with as many people as possible,” O’Brien said. “Whenever I play for church, for a choir, or in one of my shows, it gives me so much adrenaline. That’s something that I love. I always want to try and make the best version of myself, which also motivates me to stay on this path of music.
“I have many inspirations that I consider to be my mentors. I really look up to Lorie Line, because she creates outstanding shows that allow her to share her music with people while keeping her love of God strong and present. I have been blessed to meet and take advice from Lorie. Her words and music continue to stick with me and influence the way that I share my music. Locally, I look up to my mom, because she continues to share her talents with so many people.”
O’Brien hasn’t limited his skill set to being proficient behind a piano. He also plays trombone, bass, keytar, and he’s “trying to work” on guitar.
His performances tend to be both memorable and inspirational, but O’Brien isn’t just about being a solo act.
“I have always enjoyed collaborating with other musicians from the area,” O’Brien said. “The reason why I choose to have a band behind me and vocalists in front is to keep people drawn in. In my shows, I love playing solo pieces, but I think people love seeing a variety of different musicians.
“I also love choosing different musicians for each show, because it keeps things new and fresh. There is so much talent in Fort Dodge that needs to be shared with everyone.”
A break could come for O’Brien someday, but his focus has gravitated toward altruistic endeavors rather than finding ways to be discovered.
“In five years, I would like to see myself still living here in Fort Dodge but branching out to other cities and states to share my love of music,” O’Brien said. “I would love to continue my nonprofit and help as many people as possible, not only here in Fort Dodge but in surrounding states.
“The mission statement for ‘Brady O’Brien Live’ (at www.bradyobrienlive.com) is, ‘Raising money for other nonprofits and families in our communities through our love of live music.’ I believe helping people is what we were put on this earth to do.”
O’Brien continues to dream big, but his goals remain simple — and local.
“At the end of my time, if I can leave a mark of influence on just one person, I will be happy,” O’Brien said. “I want to try and be a role model for younger people that share the same love of music and fine arts.
“I am continually learning so many traditions that I hope to pass on to the next generation one day.”