When Jeff Brinkman left his songwriting days in Iowa for the indie music scene in Colorado nine years ago, he was in search of exposure—but not the kind that brings fame and fortune. Rather, he wanted an outlet to get his message of hope across; and as of late, he’s found it, playing numerous events for the Love Hope Strength Foundation and performing with the Delivering Happiness Bus Tour. Both organizations collaborate with musicians and artists across the country to raise money and awareness about cancer.

Brinkman’s good deeds have come back full circle; in March, he released his second EP—a collection performed with a five-piece backing band—with Devonshire Records. The singer-songwriter, 33, has developed a loyal following thanks to his catchy acoustic-based ballads. Reviewers have described him as a cross between Dave Matthews and Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz—an apt comparison—but Brinkman’s voice is a dead ringer for Ray LaMontagne.

Despite the potential to go big, Brinkman hasn’t forgotten his roots. About two years ago, a friend asked him to write a song and do a video for the 10-year-old son of a woman who was dying of cancer. It was the impetus to commit full-time to his music. “I lost my mom to cancer when I was 10, so it was something I was happy to do,” Brinkman says. In the wake of his latest album, however, fame is not his primary motivator. “I just try to actually say something with my music and put out messages of hope and kindness to others,” he says. “It’s kind of a pay-it-forward thing.”