It doesn’t take long to understand Chris Pierce has friends in high places.
When a “dear old friend” needed to recruit singers for a Super Bowl ad, they called Pierce. This is how Pierce met a new friend.
“It was a fun time,” Pierce said. “Miley was adorable.”
Yes, that Miley.
In the T-Mobile commercial featuring Miley Cyrus, her godmother Dolly Parton and other musicians, there is also Pierce’s face in full song.
The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter was seen by millions on the big Sunday show last month. Friends from across the country called to ask, “Did I just see you in that ad?
Similar calls have come in before.
Like when Pierce appeared on a 2018 episode of “This Is Us,” a hit NBC show known for tugging at the heartstrings. Acting as a guitarist in the scene, the actual musician helped perform an original song that would later be called “the perfect soul song” and “the song that broke all of our hearts.”
Yeah, he said once more in response to texts and phone calls. It was him. And this song? Pierce co-wrote the powerful melody with a friend, the “This Is Us” composer.
This other story is “very similar,” says Pierce.
Another old friend, also a composer for a television show, had the idea of including a cover of an Alicia Keys song in an episode.
“I thought of you,” the friend said. “I’ll let you know.”
Pierce didn’t wait.
“Knowing what I know and being a dinosaur in the business, I just recorded the song and sent it to them,” Pierce said. “They loved it.”
That’s how his cover of “No One” ended up playing during an episode of “A Million Little Things” in 2021 and became one of Pierce’s most streamed songs on Spotify. It appears alongside songs from his latest album, “American Silence.”
These are some of the highlights of Pierce’s final years, after decades of ups and downs that accompany efforts to succeed as a musician.
Even after his cover of “No One” gained national buzz, Pierce, 48, still had reality to ponder: “Hey, I hope this helps me pay my rent.”
Pierce learned how music seems to play this role in life. You can always turn to him for a sense of hope.
“Music has always been a big part of my life and my being,” Pierce said. “At first I saw how powerful it was.”
Growing up in Southern California, her parents were the first interacial couple on the block. Hatred has arisen. When Pierce was a young child, a cross was burned in their front yard.
In the evening, her parents would put on a record, maybe one by Aretha Franklin, Etta James or the Beatles, and dance.
“I saw how much it healed them,” Pierce said. “They were spending that time together behind closed doors, when there were people outside who weren’t happy to be together.”
Pierce made his life around music and built a community around it. He entered talent shows and appeared on music-inspired TV shows such as “Kids Incorporated”, which also featured Mario Lopez. He got a scholarship to study music at the University of Southern California. He’s played shows and grabbed other gigs since.
His tour includes Pierce’s first stop in Colorado Springs, with a show Friday at the Black Rose Acoustic Society.
Pierce is used to getting small and big breaks in the industry, while remaining somewhat under the radar.
Publications such as NPR and Rolling Stone praise her singing and songwriting. On Spotify, his No. 1 song has only 40,000 plays.
For Pierce, anyone who listens is a win.
“It’s all part of the bigger story and journey,” Pierce said. “All the little victories continue to lead me down this path.”
He is on a path fueled by where he started.
In “American Silence,” the album, Pierce sings about his childhood, racism, intolerance, the death of George Floyd, complacency, and other “things that are really close to my heart.”
He hopes the songs will spark conversations.
It’s the same with another recent large-scale project. Pierce teamed up with star singer Sara Bareilles on a song called “Playing For Change”.
The moving song comes with this goal: “To inspire and connect the world through music. Together we can overcome distances and differences.
That’s perhaps a loftier goal than, say, helping promote a mobile phone company. But Pierce tends to say something similar about his various experiences.
“They remind me of the power of music and how much I love music,” he said. “As musicians, we hope to have a chance to touch every human heart with it.”
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