Levitt on the Lawn: Chris Pierce

By Tori Mirsadjadi '12Editor-in-Chief

Singer-songwriter and Los Angeles native Chris Pierce will perform on Bowling Green Lawn this Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Pierce is in the midst of a worldwide tour, and will be releasing his third studio album later this year. His next performance after Friday’s Levitt on the Lawn show will be at The Foundry in Hollywood on April 28.

Pierce has released two studio albums, 2005’s “Static Trampoline” and 2008’s “Walking on the Earth.” He also released one live album, 2006’s “Music in the Moment,” in Japan. Pierce's song "Are You Beautiful" was featured on the soundtrack for the Oscar-winning film "Crash," and another of his songs, "Simple Life," was featured in one of President Barack Obama's free ringtone downloads in 2008. His songs have also been featured in many television shows, including "North Shore," "Army Wives," "Phat Girlz," "Brothers & Sisters" and HBO's Black History campaign.

Pierce agreed to share insights about himself and his music with voice readers. Here is what he had to say!

Tori Mirsadjadi: How did you get started in music?

Chris Pierce: Making music has always been the best way I communicate.  I got started in church and community theater in Claremont.

TM: Where do you get inspiration for your music?

CP: The art of living inspires me. Human emotion inspires me.

TM: How were you contacted about coming to perform at Scripps?

CP: I was contacted by my friend Liz Hirsch, a Scripps alumna who has been a huge supporter of my music.

TM: You were “discovered” by SEAL at a 2005 living room gig—subsequently touring as the opening act during SEAL’s world tour—and have opened for B.B. King, Al Green, Colbie Caillat, Toots & The Maytals, Robert Cray and Jamie Cullum. You’ve performed alongside artists like Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and Macy Gray. You have quite the following in Japan, and the LA Times called you "one of ten homegrown artists you ought to know." So…why come to Scripps? What was the appeal of performing on the lawn of a small women’s liberal arts college?

CP: I grew up on 11th street in Claremont so I know that lawn very well. When I heard about the opportunity to make music there I jumped on it.

TM: In what context do you think a Scripps student might have heard your music before this performance? What about your music do you think will resonate with Friday’s audience?

CP: Scripps women may have heard my music on NPR or KCRW.  They also may have heard my music on a few TV shows and films.  I sing and write from the heart and share my perspective with soulful music.  From what I know about the Scripps/Claremont community from growing up there, those elements should resonate.

TM: Does the fact that your Levitt on the Lawn concert will occur on Earth Day have any effect on how or what you will be performing?

CP: Sure. It may affect my song choices a bit.  I will definitely play my song "Walking on the Earth" and also probably do a cover of a Jimi Hendrix song called "Up from the Skies" that could have been written yesterday about the human condition.

TM: Have you done special Earth Day performances in the past?

CP: Yes, I've done several.  The most recent one was with Michael Franti here in Los Angeles.

TM: How do you balance striving for commercial success with maintaining your sense of artistic integrity?

CP: I remind myself often why I started making music: for the love of it.

TM: Is there anything else you want to say to our Scripps readers?

CP: It's very special to me to make it back to Claremont to do a concert at Scripps.  I've been looking forward to this concert for a while now.  I hope to see you all there!

Pierce’s April 22 performance, as part of the Levitt on the Lawn concert series, is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring picnic materials. Community members can purchase a meal for $8.50 and students who provide their meal cards can enjoy a free Hawaiian BBQ dinner from Malott, with dinner service starting at 4:45 p.m.