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Five For Fighting Interview; John Ondrasik on Working with Jim Brickman, Entrepreneurial Success, and Why Gary Sinise is Awesome

John Ondrasik – known for his work fronting Five for Fighting — has also sold television shows, become an in-demand public speaker, and leads a variety of non-profit causes.



Five for Fighting — the recording moniker of John Ondrasik — first hit it big in the early 2000s with singles like “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” and “100 Years”. If you were a casual listener of music, you may be the sort of person that asks, “What happened to that guy?” with a snarky facial expression. The reality is that Ondrasik not only had more chart hits with his 2006 album Two Lights and 2009’s Slice, but he has also found tremendous success outside of music. Ondrasik has sold television shows, become an in-demand public speaker, and leads a variety of non-profit causes.

Ondrasik’s latest musical release is “Christmas Where You Are,” a collaboration with top pianist Jim Brickman. The song is part of Brickman’s latest release, A Joyful Christmas, and debuted at #2 on the Mediabase Holiday Songs Chart. A percentage of the song’s proceeds go to the Gary Sinise Foundation, which honors defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. We had the pleasure of doing a Q&A with Ondrasik within which we caught up on what else Ondrasik has going on.

Please enjoy Five for Fighting’s “Christmas Song for Troops”.

How did you and Jim first meet?
John Ondrasik: Though Jim and I met and started writing about a year ago, my wife Carla — a music publisher — worked with Jim two decades ago and was instrumental in one of Jim’s first hits, “Valentine.” I guess you can say he’s been part of the family for a while.

Christmas music aside, what is coming up for you career-wise?
Ondrasik: I’ve sold a couple of TV shows and am working on an exciting ABC project, Harmony, with legend Stephen Schwartz. I also have a busy schedule of symphony shows, FFF quartet shows, and keynote speaking…and maybe a musical?

What prompted you to get onto the public speaking circuit?
Ondrasik: During my music career I have also continued to work in the family wire manufacturing business. We make the best shopping cart in the world. A decade ago I was asked to do a Ted Talk correlating the tools of a singer/songwriter with the innovation and creativity it takes to run a business. That has translated into a busy keynote schedule which is half speaking, half musical performance. It’s a fun gig.

You are also known to be very active with non-profit causes. Who was the first person whose charity work made you realize that you should also volunteer?
Ondrasik: I’ve been inspired by my friend Gary Sinise who is our generation’s Bob Hope for the troops. It has been an honor of a lifetime to support our troops and their families with various efforts and performances.

When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
Ondrasik: Fly fishing, running, hanging with family, and enjoying L.A. Kings Stanley Cup parades.

What’s the last concert you attended for fun?
Ondrasik: My son bought me Who tickets for my birthday — Pete’s still got it!

Do you have a favorite album of 2017?
Ondrasik: What’s an album? (laughs)

Finally, John, any last words for the kids?
Ondrasik: May 2018 bring happiness and health to all…and to all a good night!

Check out the TEDxMidwest video with John covering “where songs come from”.