After a lifetime of crafting finely-wrought, heart-touching songs, singer-songwriter Pierce Pettis feels that he’s finally found his comfort zone. “The biggest change,” he says of this point in his career “has been getting over myself and realizing this is a job and a craft. And the purpose is not fame and fortune (whatever that is) but simply doing good work.”
“From the time I was very little, I always had the music going in my head,” Pettis explains. “Like my own personal soundtrack or something. I also come from a fairly musical family: my mother went to music school and was an excellent organist and pianist. And my sisters all played piano and other instruments. In school, I met other kids who wanted to be rock stars, just like me. From the time we were around 10 or so up through high school, we put together various bands — all of them horrible.”
His “horrible” bands didn’t deter him though and even though he had a nagging feeling (“I thought I was supposed to be a doctor or something.”) he persevered, not only playing music but writing songs in a mix of rock, folk, country and R&B genres that landed him an unpaid position as a staff writer for Muscle Shoals Sounds Studios. While there, his track “Song at the End of the Movie” found its way to Joan Baez’s 1979 album Honest Lullaby.
Pettis hit the road and became a member of the “Fast Folk” movement in New York in the mid-1980’s. He released one independent solo album, Moments (1984) before signing with High Street Records, a division of Windham Hill. There, he released three albums: While the Serpent Lies Sleeping (1989), Tinseltown (1991), and Chase the Buffalo (1993).
His relationship with Tinseltown producer Mark Heard transcended the album. After Heard’s untimely death in 1992, Pettis committed to including a song of Heard’s on every one of his own albums, a practice that continues to this day.
Pettis was a staff songwriter for PolyGram from 1993-2000 and when his High Street contract ended, Pettis signed to Compass Records where he has released Making Light of It (1996), Everything Matters (1998), State of Grace (2001), and Great Big World (2004). Pierce Pettis’ songs have been recorded by artists including Susan Ashton, Dar Williams, Garth Brooks and Art Garfunkel.