INDIANAPOLIS – A mark of a successful person can be measured by one's ability for having achievements chronologically throughout life.
Success also can be displayed by having unique talents in more than one area and using them to entertain others.
Former Colts tight end Ben Utecht is such a success on both accounts. Utecht was a multi-sport star who made the NFL. He also started as a musical performer very young in life, and that career now spans past athletics. Those talents soon will bring him back to Indianapolis.
Utecht played football while growing up as a youth in Hastings, Minnesota. He was a standout at Hastings High School in football, hockey and track. Playing punter and defensive end in high school led to a career at tight end at the University of Minnesota, where he was a four-year performer who started 35 of 44 games and snared 83 passes for 1,211 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Those achievements led the Colts to signing Utecht as a free agent in 2004, and he played through 2007 with Indianapolis. Utecht started 30 of 41 games with the Colts, catching 71 passes for 800 yards and three touchdowns. A member of the Super Bowl XLI champion Colts, he signed with Cincinnati in 2008 to play his final NFL season.
Utecht was a success off the field, too. A National Honor Society student in high school, he also won numerous awards for musical and artistic excellence. Those citations came early in life when he started singing publicly while in the fifth grade.
Those days of performing have followed Utecht since and will lead him back to Indianapolis on December 28, when he will appear in A Christmas Celebration with world renowned pianist Jim Brickman at the Murat Theatre at 7:30 p.m.
Being aligned with a performer of the status of Brickman is as noteworthy as being a member of a Super Bowl champion, and Utecht remembers how he was able to make the musical connection.
"I met Jim this last summer in New York and performed with him the first time with the Grand Rapids Symphony in Michigan this last summer," said Utecht. "It was kind of my final step before the invitation to do the Christmas tour. It was a chance meeting. I was in New York visiting my public relations firm and I was having dinner with a friend. My friend happened to say, 'Hey, come over early. I want to introduce you to somebody. I did and sure enough it was Jim Brickman. I had a demo CD that I was going to give to my friend. I ended up giving it to Jim and telling him the story of 'the singing Super Bowler.' He couldn't believe it. I sang for him on the spot. Little did I know I was auditioning for the tour, but he was in New York auditioning Broadway singers for the tour. (It was) a pretty cool opportunity."
Since the 1994 release of his first album, Brickman's prodigious piano talents have made him one of the country's best-selling artists. His most recognizable songs include "Valentine," "The Gift," "Love of My Life," "Simple Things" and "Peace." He has worked with noteworthy artists such as Martina McBride, Kenny Loggins, Carly Simon, Herb Alpert, Collin Raye, Michael Bolton, Donny Osmond, and Olivia Newton-John. Brickman has earned six Gold and Platinum albums, 30 charted adult radio hits, and two Grammy nominations. Additionally, he has appeared in numerous television concert specials. In addition to Brickman and Utecht, A Christmas Celebration also will feature singer Anne Cochran and violinist Tracy Silverman.
Utecht performed the National Anthem at the Colts-Buffalo preseason game on August 28, 2004. He has performed the National Anthem at a variety of other events, including one for President George W. Bush and at the 2010 home opener of the Cincinnati Reds.
While in Indianapolis, Utecht met one of Gospel music's leading performers, Sandi Patty. Utecht performed with Patty with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In meeting other Indiana notables, he sang as well with the Gaither Family. Utecht also has performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and performed a duet with Kimberley Locke. Utecht has sung with other civic symphonies, and his talents have allowed him to appear in across the country.
Utecht, who also plays the guitar and piano and has done some song-writing in Canada, cites his early developmental direction for music efforts, and he explains the direction his work goes now.
"My parents got me started," said Utecht. "My mom and dad were both singers, so they were the ones who started cultivating the passion for music. As I kind of grew into my voice, I kind of have a big inspirational voice with a classical foundation, I was really influenced by a guy like Andrea Bocelli or Josh Groban. I think the unique thing about my music is I'm also highly influenced by current bands such as U2. It's kind of a unique fusion when you bring the classical into the rock. It's kind of a really cinematic sound, which is what I'm trying to bring to the table.
"When I left the Colts, that (a Gospel career) was what I was pursuing at the time. I really decided when I got to Cincinnati that I was going to start pursuing where I really felt my voice was suited best, and that was in the classical cross-over world. It's totally mainstream, and that's where we're headed."
Utecht also has released his own holiday recording, Christmas Hope. The CD may be ordered by visiting his website, www.benjaminutecht.com.
Of his careers, Utecht has said, "What I've learned from playing with guys like Peyton Manning is when you put everything you have into your craft, there is no limit to how good you can become. Also, from my Coach Tony Dungy, I learned the importance of faith and believing in something bigger than yourself. This includes everything from God to believing in your teammates and coaches, because when you incorporate that into your framework, it breeds success."
Utecht now lives in the Minneapolis area with his wife, Caryn, and three children.