FolkWorld #74 03/2021
© Devon Léger (Hearth Music/HearthPR)

Across the Western Ocean

American Silence

LA soul singer Chris Pierce channels Richie Havens/Bob Dylan with 2021 protest album.

Los Angeles soul singer Chris Pierce’s new album, American Silence, has already gathered critical acclaim from NPR and Rolling Stone! Ann Powers at NPR wrote twice about the power of Chris’ debut single and title track and its effect on her in 2020, saying it’s “…the song white allies need to hear because it so beautifully says that loving protest songs isn’t enough.” Rolling Stone praised the single as well, saying that Pierce “channels Richie Havens and Bob Dylan... It’s the sound of everyone who’s hungry for change, steadying themselves and marching toward a common goal.”

Chris Pierce

Chris Pierce

Artist Video Chris Pierce

Internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter Chris Pierce stands by the notion that music can cut through the isolated and static feelings for those of us worn down by the chaos of everyday life. He calls out to unite us under one sonic roof to speak up, sing out, rise up and resist with the offering of his new 21st century Americana freedom and justice album titled “American Silence” to be released on February 26, 2021. On the forthcoming LP, Pierce channels legendary justice and freedom songwriters. With sparse acoustic instrumentation and unmistakable soulfully passionate vocals, Pierce creates an authentic sound all his own removed from time or trend.

Here's what Chris has to say about the album in his own words: "Being a voice against inequality, injustice and oppression pumps deep through the veins of my life’s work as a songwriter and performer. My own horrific experiences with racism began at the age of five with a cross burning on my families front lawn and then continued through adolescence and adulthood with violence, intolerance, arrests and accusations. I firmly believe that our experiences are our art & our art reflects our experiences. As we face both our comfortable and uncomfortable personal histories head on, we must add to the collective greater voice and higher consciousness. My album was written in memory of all those whose lives have been affected by abusive, excessive and inhumane force. It’s written for those who may have been shoved off the path and might need a helping hand. It’s written for those who may need a reminder that our authenticity and roots make us beautiful and soulful. This album sings truth to power. It is written as a call, in the enduring hope of a response."

War & Pierce

Artist Video Sunny War @ FROG

The full-length LP, “American Silence” soulfully spins original songs about a wide range of issues including justice, oppression, homelessness, black self-love, racism, mass incarceration, Immigrant Transcontinental Railroad workforce, Native American boarding schools, and a tribute to the American statesman and civil rights leader, John Lewis. The self produced album was recorded during a socially distanced session at Boulevard Recording in Los Angeles, California with only Pierce and the studio owner/engineer Clay Blair in attendance. Lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica and background choir parts on the album were performed by Pierce.

Chris Pierce wanted to release his new album, American Standards, during Black History Month. He comes from a soul background, but on the new album he's channeling Dylan protest folk to shine a light on racial injustice in America from his own perspective. Chris is a powerful writer so I wanted to ask him his thoughts on Black History Month. This is what he said:

"I celebrate Black History through and through. Not only for the month of February, but through the days, nights and often-times fragile and emotional seasons of the years. There are countless contributions by black creators, innovators and entrepreneurs to our daily lives. The creative contributions alone, carry us on a never-ending inspirational song cycle that rings true to the black experience and carries over to all, yet our contributions are often overlooked, trampled on and left alone. Black History Month is a reminder to never let our beautiful and powerful notes dampen into the night. A reminder to sing those mighty songs and to be joyous while they ring into the sunrise and into another day. Black History Month reminds us to sing strong and sing proud in honor of our victorious ancestors and their contributions and to also celebrate each other as we rise up, as we grieve and as we succeed. It reminds us that the song will only begin to end, if we yield in inspiring each other to write another verse and to build another bridge. We find the strength to lift our authentic voices as we march on through the choruses and the chapters of black history.”

Chris Pierce recently gained national prominence with “We Can Always Come Back To This”. His hit co-write aired on multiple episodes of the #1 NBC primetime series ‘THIS IS US’, then went on to peak at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart, #12 on iTunes Top 100, and garner nominations for "Best Song/Recording Created for Television” from The Guild of Music Supervisors and The Jerry Goldsmith Awards. In 2020, Pierce’s collaboration with artist Sunny War in Americana duo WAR & PIERCE yielded the hit single “Amen”. “Amen” was featured on NPR’s WORLD CAFE, aired on 250 AAA / NonComm stations and has racked up over 500K spins on Spotify. Look for modern soul man Chris Pierce to impact many of the same strong influencers with ‘American Silence’ in 202

At age 15, Pierce developed a rare hearing disorder called Otosclerosis that led to the loss of hearing in one ear and partial deafness in the other, a setback that would deter many young musicians forever. The reality, however, fueled Chris’ passion and determination all the more, forcing him to re-learn almost everything he had known prior to his condition. To Chris, music was, and still is, an unconditional companion.

Chris has done multiple headlining tours and has also performed on stage with or opened worldwide tours for: Seal, Cold War Kids, B.B. King, Al Green, Sara Bareilles, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Jill Scott, Toots and the Maytals, Colbie Caillat, Buddy Guy, Keb’Mo’, Blind Boys of Alabama, Aaron Neville, Jamie Cullum and others. His voice and music have been heard in film and television shows including: This is Us, True Blood, Soundtrack, Crash, Rosewood, Soul Men, Brothers & Sisters, Single Ladies, Eli Stone, In Plain Sight, Dawson's Creek, Army Wives, as well as in national ad campaigns for Lexus and Banana Republic. He also guest appears on a wide range of album recordings as a vocalist, harmonicist and guitarist. He’s confirmed for BottleRock Fest in Sept. 2021.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Chris Pierce, (3) Sunny War (unknown/website).

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