Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Chris Pierce Overcomes a Musician’s Biggest Challenge to Share His Healing Music
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Chris Pierce, who will perform at a benefit for Mountain Humane, didn’t let a loss of hearing derail his aspirations of becoming a musician.
 
Thursday, July 18, 2019
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Music was a place of refuge for Chris Pierce--the tool he used to fit in as a biracial youngster growing up in southern California.

He sang in choirs and performed in bands from the time he was 5. And he even appeared on TV as a teenager.

But a sudden loss of hearing set him back, forcing him to wonder if he could achieve his dream of being a singer/songwriter.

 
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Tara, Sena and Chris Pierce.
 

“I was singing in class day after day and found myself not being able to hear the teachers. I’d move up one seat at a time until I was finally at the front of the class, and I was still having trouble hearing.  That’s when I found out I had osteosclerosis, a deformation of the stirrup bone in the inner ear.”

Pierce had a stapedectomy, receiving a new ear drum fashioned out of titanium. It restored 75 percent of the hearing in that ear. And, since, he’s recorded nine albums and his music has been featured on such TV shows as “This is Us,” “Rosewood,” “Dawson’s Creek” and Lexus and Banana Republic ad campaigns.

He’s also shared the stage with Seal, B.B. King, Al Green, Aaron Neville, Blind Boys of Alabama, the Maytals and others.

He will take the stage on Sunday, July 21, at Party for Paws, a benefit for Mountain Humane. The concert starts at 6 p.m. on the grounds of the new animal welfare campus west of Hailey.

“I’ve known Chris for years since he married Tara Buck—one of my good friends from high school and now an actress in L.A.,” said Brooke Bonner, the associate director of Mountain Humane. “He’s one of the nicest humans I know, in addition to being an amazing artist.”

Described by “Elmore Magazine” as a modern-day Otis Redding, Pierce grew up in a house full of music.

“Losing my hearing was a very big test for me as a person who loved music and wanted to be a professional musician,” he recounted. “It was a wakeup call at such a young age because music had done so much for me and I felt I could do so much for others through my music.”

Following the operation, he started over again. And with two years of hard work, he received an Ella Fitzgerald scholarship to study jazz at USC.

By the time he was 19, he was playing concerts of 30,000 people. Among those who heard him play was Seal. He liked what he heard, invited Pierce to open for him and helped the young man get a record deal.

“The education I got from Seal and B.B. King was priceless,” said Pierce. “They’re all really good people and generous. Seal let me ride on one of his buses, which is hardly ever done for opening acts. Not only that, but he insisted I dine with his crew. The way he treated me like family taught me that, no matter how successful, I must reach out to others.”

At 45, Pierce takes nothing for granted. He continues to study with the best and practice every day. And he strives to be authentic in his songs, which focus on the heart-to-heart connection, the slow life and even, in his words, “a static trampoline.”

And his listeners respond—he’s received letters from people in the hospital, people in jail, people whose parents have passed away. And they all share how his music has helped them heal.

“Thank you for giving me permission to feel that today. I needed that,” wrote one listener.

“I play from the heart and soul,” said Pierce. “The main thing for me is coming from a place of honesty and being as vulnerable as possible and sharing my gifts in deepest way I can. If I can connect with one heart in the audience my job is done. And maybe my story will inspire another young musician, or even an athlete, who may not have all the resources they need.”

Pierce has known of Mountain Humane for several years through his wife, a 1993 Wood River High School graduate whom he married seven years ago. But making Sunday’s concert all the more special is the fact that he and his wife just welcomed a pointer mix into their home—the first dog he’s had since he was a teenager 30 years ago.

The dog was rescued from the many street dogs that have cropped up in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017. She’s named Sena for the wine Pierce bought his wife on their first date. The word also means “sign” in Spanish, he said.

 “I was on the road and my wife called and said, ‘I’ve fallen in love with this dog from Puerto Rico.’ It was love at first sight. She is such a blessing in our lives--a soul-to-soul, heart-to-heart connection.

The dog has taken the Pierces on walking adventures and introduced them to people they never would have met except for walking a dog. 

“She represents endless amounts of joy for me,” said Pierce.

Does that man there’s a song about a dog coming in his future?

“Absolutely,” said Pierce. “Probably on my next record!”

IF YOU GO:

The Party for Paws benefit concert featuring blues and soul singer/songwriter Chris Pierce will start at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 21, at Mountain Humane, a few miles west of Hailey on Croy Creek Road.

Food trucks from KBs, the Sawtooth Brewery and the Wood River Sustainability Center will be on site. Vendors are donating 10 percent of their proceeds from the evening to Mountain Humane. Red Shoe’s bartenders will also serve libations donated by Party Animal Vodka, Talley Vineyards and the Warfield Distillery, with 100 percent of the sales benefitting Mountain Humane.

Regular tickets are $50 and VIP tickets are $75. The VIP tickets offer stage side seating and include two drink tickets. They’re available at www.mountainhumane.org/partyforpaws/

Party for Paws is expected to become a summer tradition, helping Mountain Humane achieve its goal of making Idaho a no-kill state and teaching children and adults about empathy, compassion and the joy of a human-animal bond.


 

 

 

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