Tom Brosseau - VERVE - 5 | KUED.org
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KUED's online series exploring creativity

Tom Brosseau

“You have to get to work and do the work.”

This is the advice Tom Brosseau gives to aspiring musicians.

Born and raised in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Tom is a touring folk musician. Although he has travelled throughout the world performing, it wasn’t always so easy for him.

“I didn’t mind having to go through the hard times. Sleeping in bus stations and having to stay up hours on end, even going into a little bit of debt. All of those things I didn’t want to do, but I knew if I could just stick with it, I would be alright. I just had that feeling.”

An old soul at heart, Tom’s passion for storytelling has fueled and sustained his dream of being a folk artist.

“That’s why I love music so much, or I need it”, says Tom.  “I love to recall things.”  For him, folk music is both an art of storytelling and paying homage to the past.

Although he has lived in Los Angeles for many years, local life and small towns are where he feels most at home. “What set me aside from every other person out there was singing songs about Grand Forks, or the prairie, or Emerado, North Dakota."

He uses music to meditate and lock himself in a specific time or place. When in this space, the space of music and songwriting, he can visualize memories in vivid detail. He can relive childhood memories, like opening the door to his grandmother’s home and pulling sheets back from the bed.

“It’s a meditation,” says Tom.  “I use music as a method. And it’s proven, scientifically, that this is true. You’ll see this with people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. If they listen to music, all of sudden they come to life again. Music is that powerful.”;

When Tom visits his hometown, he says he loves visiting and playing at old folks’ homes. 

As an artist, Tom talks about the balancing act many artists face of accepting constructive criticism, avoiding too much flattery and believing in yourself.  According to Tom, hanging on to negative or positive feedback too much is harmful to the creative process and to growth—both personally and professionally.

“If you’re only choosing to listen to people when they say how great you are,” Tom says, "that is probably more damaging to you in your career than it would be for somebody to give you good, strong, constructive criticism.”

"I don’t take myself too seriously," says Tom. "I like to stay free and loose.”

To find out more about Tom, visit his website, and find him on Instagram and Facebook

Produced and edited by

Ashley Swanson