LA based musician Chris Pierce has been at it for awhile, working independently for decades. His sound has ranged from soul and R&B to his take on “The American Soul Songbook” and most recently has written a “folk protest” album called “American Silence” out this Friday. We caught up with Chris in advance of the album release to talk about this batch of songs and the times that inspired them. While Chris Pierce has faced obstacles both physical (loss of hearing at fifteen) and social (he outlines examples of racial profiling); he is a supremely positive guy. Our conversation was inspiring to me in it’s optimism despite this past year which has exposed many of our Country’s weaknesses and unfilled promises.
We talked about the value of a good record collection at a young age, his chance meeting with the musician Seal, his collaboration with musician Sunny War. We didn’t even touch on his co-ownership of a wine label, Ledbetter Syrah, or his stage production, “Reverend Tall Tree”. A full creative life; peaking with a new release that has prompted NPR and Rolling Stone to proclaim his latest the “Protest Album of the Year”.
Chris Pierce told stories about performing with Sunny War as the duo, War and Pierce, as well as his recording in the famed Muscle Shoals recording studios with the legendary backing band. We hear his soulful vocals belt out “Many Rivers to Cross” from the “You’ve Got to Feel It” recorded in that Alabama iconic studio. We also hear his duet with Sunny War called “Amen” written in response to the deadly Charlottesville protest. We conclude with the title cut of his new album, “American Silence” where he exhorts those who are allies to act in solidarity and not simply “post a facebook comment” and remain in the background.
Despite the fact that Chris has shared the stage with the likes of BB King, Al Green and Aaron Neville and toured the world with Seal, it’s my estimation that his most creative period has just begun. Listen to our conversation and you’ll agree that “American Silence” is a modern day master class in songwriting, no matter the genre.