Amid blues and soul singer-songwriter Chris Pierce’s busy schedule, the California native managed to squeeze in time to play Party for Paws, Mountain Humane’s first-ever benefit concert this Sunday, July 21.
It’s a “tight weekend” Pierce admitted. He has to catch a flight to Idaho on Sunday morning because he’s playing a show in Napa, Calif., the night before. But for Pierce, giving back has always been part of his career and personal mission.
“I feel like with the gifts that I’ve been given, I’ve also been given the responsibility to pass things on in any way I can, whether that’s through music or through good energy,” Pierce said. “Music is a unique way to give, and if I can give with a performance or recording—any musical contribution—I am always down to do it and say yes.”
Enter Mountain Humane Associate Director Brooke Bonner.
Bonner and Pierce’s wife, Tara Buck, attended high school together in the Wood River Valley, and remain good friends to this day.
“I’ve met Brooke and her husband several times,” Pierce said. “They’re amazing people, and I mentioned to them, if you guys ever have any events that need music, keep me in mind and I’ll try to make it out.”
Pierce has been singing and performing from a young age. His parents were both big fans of music, and he grew up in a home where, as he described, “vinyl records were always spinning.”
“I started singing pretty early on,” he said. “I was actually taught how to spell my name by a song my mother made up. That was kinda the very first song I ever sang—learning how to spell my own name. It was very apparent I loved music and singing from a very early age.”
In grade school, Pierce was involved in music classes and community theater. At age 10, he landed his first TV gig—a show called “Kids Incorporated.” From there, he remained involved in theater, bands and television, which “got me on the road to college,” the musician said.
He received the Ella Fitzgerald Scholarship to attend USC and majored in vocal jazz studies when the program was first implemented.
Attending USC “really opened my eyes to being a working musician—all my professors were,” Pierce said. “There were a lot of opportunities to learn from people out in the field.”
A couple of years into school, Pierce was scouted out by rock band Sonia Dada. He joined them on the road, playing for thousands of people across the country. Soon after, he returned to USC to finish his degree.
After graduating, Pierce started playing coffee shops and “went in and out of a couple record deals and that kind of thing,” he said. It wasn’t until a fateful house party that his career really took off.
“One day, I got invited to play at a party at Beverly Hills—and Seal was there. He liked what he heard, and a couple weeks later I was opening for four legs of his tour, two in Europe and two in the U.S.,” Pierce said.
He said his experience on the road with Seal forever shaped his music career.
“[Seal is] an incredible talent, person—a brilliant singer and generous soul,” he said. “It was amazing as a young musician to be around someone of that status, to see how kind and professional they are, in addition to being such an amazing musician.”
More recently, Pierce has been “writing new songs, playing as much as I can and saying yes to opportunities.” One of those opportunities is playing Mountain Humane’s upcoming benefit concert.
“It’s such an amazing cause,” he said. “We have a dog we love, and she’s a rescue from Puerto Rico, so it’s definitely close to my heart. I’m looking forward to hearing about what [Mountain Humane is] doing.”
Pierce’s pup will be traveling with him to the Wood River Valley and might even attend the benefit. “She’d really enjoy it,” he said.
Pierce has been to the valley before and is excited to play in Hailey.
“I’m really looking forward to being there, and hopefully finding more opportunities to play in the valley. I love it there. It’s such an incredible place to be, especially knowing my wife has so many great memories there.”
And when asked the most pressing question—cats or dogs? — “I love all animals,” Pierce said with a laugh, “but I’m definitely a dog person.”
Tickets to the Party for Paws benefit concert on Sunday, June 21, at 6 p.m. are selling fast, and stage-side VIP tickets are sold out. However, VIP tickets with reserved/priority seating and two drink tickets are still available. Regular tickets are $50 and VIP tickets are $75. Concert tickets can be purchased online at aswrv.ejoinme.org/partyforpaws.
More information on Party for Paws can be found on Mountain Humane’s website, mountainhumane.org.