Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in The Messenger’s annual Hometown Pride publication on June 24, 2022, featuring people and organizations in and around Fort Dodge who are making a difference in their communities.
Brady O’Brien has a gift.
The recent St. Edmond graduate felt it at a very young age. He would sit next to his mother, Katrina, and absorb it all as a budding piano virtuoso.
As 18-year-old O’Brien honed his skills and reached a more independent age, he had a choice to make: turn his individual talents into a vehicle for future financial gain, or pass on that passion to as many people and communities as possible through the simple enjoyment of music.
“I have a lot of different sticks in the fire right now when it comes to what I want to do for the rest of my life,” said O’Brien. “A lot of people will say they’re just doing music, and while I’d love to do that, it can be hard to live on music alone.
“My long-term music goals are to continue my non-profit business and use my music to help raise funds for those doing good in our world, as well as those in need. I also plan to continue writing music and putting on 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 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 amazing people – not just in the music business, but just in everyday life,” said O’Brien. “During my shows, when I see familiar faces, it amazes me how our community supports live music, fine arts and organizations that do great things. I feel so loved after every show because everything the community world greets me afterwards with big smiles and strong hugs.
“That’s why I love doing what I do; there’s nothing like seeing a smile on someone’s face through the power of music.
O’Brien’s spirit comes to life in front of 88 keys, pedals and the familiar setting of a piano.
“I started playing when I was 5 (years old)”, said O’Brien. “I started lessons with Barbara Kondrath, and after her death I continued with Andrea Minikis.
“Growing up, I always saw my mother play the piano for many different things: church, school choirs, and so much more. I started taking the piano seriously because I wanted to to be like her and be able to sit down and play any song I wanted.
The reaction to these performances brought him back.
“Seeing people’s faces and hearing their comments…I believe music is very powerful, and I want to share that love of music with as many people as possible,” said O’Brien. “Every time I play for church, for a choir or in one of my shows, it gives me so much adrenaline. It’s something that I love. I always want to try to make the best version of myself, which also motivates me to stay on this path of music.
“I have a lot of inspirations that I consider my mentors. I really admire Lorie Line because she creates exceptional shows that allow her to share her music with people while keeping her love of God strong and present. I had the chance to meet and take advice from Lorie. His words and his music continue to accompany me and influence the way I share my music. Locally, I look up to my mother because she continues to share her talents with so many people.
O’Brien did not limit his skills to being proficient behind a piano. He also plays trombone, bass, keytar and is “try to work” on the guitar.
His performances tend to be both memorable and inspiring, but O’Brien isn’t just about being a solo act.
“I have always enjoyed collaborating with other musicians from the region”, said O’Brien. “The reason I chose to have a band behind me and singers in front is to keep people drawn in. In my shows I like to play solo bits, but I think people like to see a variety of different musicians.
“I also like to choose different musicians for each show because it keeps things new and fresh. There’s so much talent at Fort Dodge that needs to be shared with everyone.
A break may come one day for O’Brien, but he has focused on selfless endeavors rather than finding ways to be discovered.
“Five years from now, 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,” said O’Brien. “I would like to continue my nonprofit and help as many people as possible, not only here in Fort Dodge, but in surrounding states.
“The mission statement of ‘Brady O’Brien Live’ (at www.bradyobrienlive.com) is: ‘To raise funds for other non-profit organizations and families in our communities through our love of music live”. 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 one person, I will be happy”, said O’Brien. “I want to try to be a role model for young people who share the same love of music and the fine arts.
“I continually learn so many traditions that I hope to one day pass on to the next generation.”