Chicago native, Jon Pierce is a singer, songwriter and actor with an amazing baritone voice. At just the impressionable age of 11, he realized his deep love and sheer passion for music. Having been exposed early on to such musical giants as Stevie Wonder, Fela Kuti and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. At age 12, Jon remembers his mother giving him a Walkman along with a Luther Vandross cassette tape that he would study for hours, getting lost in the melodies of the rifts and vocalizing the intricate harmonies. It is the soulfulness of these and many other influences that helped shape Jon Pierce’s personal full-energy sound, which is filled with a hint of jazz, hypnotic house rhythms and his natural fit, R&B. A professional singer since age 15, Jon Pierce has been a consistent performer with both stage and vocal projects ever since. Fueled by his drive to, “take a set of songs and turn them into memorable moments for the audience,” Jon engages his unique style and creativity to deliver lasting impressions that have not only made him a permanent fixture in Chicago’s diverse house, soul and theatre scenes, but they have catapulted him globally with tours and performances throughout Germany, Japan and the UK.
He's worked withTerry Hunter, Louie Vega, Sean Ali, and Ralf Gum just to name a few. His single “Never” is a fan favorite and his artistry is heard on dance floors all across the world. With a new single from T’s Box Records debuting soon, I had a chance to speak with Jon Pierce about his journey, his latest project and his vision for his future.
Black Widow: What have you been working on?
Jon Pierce: I’ve been working on new music and new sounds. I’m just trying to find that voice. Over the years, I’ve been looking for my space in the house community. I think I’m coming into my own and my sound. I know the feelings, words and stories that I want to share with people.
Black Widow: A lot has happened since you started doing house music. I think its all part of the growth and evolution of any artist. How would you describe your sound right now? What creative space are you in right now?
Jon Pierce: I’m just looking for organic and new sounds. Sounds that haven’t been done already. Sometimes we get lost in one way of doing things. We can get trapped in saying how a house song with vocals should sound like as if it’s a formula. I am doing my best to break away from that. I’m just in a moment where I’m being my best self. I’m pushing myself to places I’ve never gone; vocally, sound wise, musically...just new places.
Black Widow: Breaking out of those boxes…
Jon Pierce: Yes, breaking out of that. The genre of house can box you in and I just want to break free of that. I’m grateful for the work I’ve done. This is just part of my evolution. I’ve been working on music with different producers and I’ve been doing a lot of new music by myself. I’m really proud of these ideas right now.
Black Widow: Do you find that as you embrace this idea of breaking out of boxes that there is more freedom in being creative?. You can really go wherever you want to go…
Jon Pierce: Yeah!!! That’s exactly why I’m doing it. I want the freedom of creating and the freedom of expressing myself in front of people. The more I’m my authentic self, the more I’m real and honest with myself, the more I’m just Jon, the more I’m a representation of the beauty I see and feel…I can give so much more. I can put into every song and performance what is my truth. The truth that comes from my heart and my experience. I don’t want to ever represent anything false.
Black Widow: You’re not just a vocalist, you know? You are performer, actor…an artist and it comes through in your music. The totality of who you are not just one small piece…
Jon Pierce: I want that to come across in every song and every show. I want people to see that range. You get me! [Laughter]
Black Widow: [laughter] I do. It’s so funny because I’ve been seeing this in artists I love both in the house genre and outside this scene. Lately they have been pushing the envelope visually, musically, performance wise. I feel like it’s a collective consciousness around certain artists, where people are in this great space where genres don’t matter. It’s just about doing the music they like and not getting caught up in those labels.
Jon Pierce: Right…and that’s how I feel right now. I’m grateful I get to perform the music I like. I love dance music but I want to grab onto different rhythms in it; Slowing it down or speeding it up. It’s such an array of rhythms that come with dance music and I’m so happy to be exploring that within myself and my sounds. My prayer is that people feel the intention in the music I create and the performances they see. The only way to do that is to be honest in the process.
Black Widow: Has your creative process changed at all?
Jon Pierce: It’s totally changed. Some things stay the same, like how ideas come to me, but now I go in and go crazy, creating the foundation of whatever I feel and I try to create a sound from that. 10 years ago I would never do that. I was afraid of that. Now I can put together stuff that I didn’t think I could. That was a powerful revelation to me because I realized the music is inside of me. I don’t have to question it.
Black Widow: So let’s talk about "PureFormEssence"?
Jon Pierce: April 19th is a concert, a party and a night of encouragement and inspiration. I haven’t done a big show on my own in Chicago in about 3 years. I’m excited for Chicago to feel me in a different way. I feel it’s the right time. This time, I want it to be an art piece. I’m bringing in so much of who I am, not just song and dance but the production. I want to bring that feeling to the stage and to the room. I’ve invited some of the most amazing artists in the city. I have some singers from theatre and some singers who are house artists who aren’t well known yet. I want to introduce them to the community.
I’m excited to have my big brother, Terry Hunter playing. We have new music coming out on T'sBox Records that we are going to debut. We have DJ Emmaculate and a few surprises up my sleeve. The energy and performances are going to be powerful. You know my concerts and performances are high energy!
Black Widow: They sure are!
Jon Pierce: It’s always a good time! It’s going to be like that but elevated a bit, just to see where I’ve been, where I’m going and see where it takes us!
Black Widow: I have to be honest. This event is really appealing to me because I think sometimes living in Chicago we can get spoiled because we have access to so much incredible house music and it can get redundant. People crave something different, a different experience. What would you describe this experience as?
Jon Pierce: You’re not just getting a party, they are getting live performances, live musicianship and incredible music but more importantly I really hope that people get inspiration for their own ideas and their own lives. The words and the way I want to convey it to the audience, when they see it all come together, they experience something really different. I want it to be energizing and uplifting.
Black Widow: So what are you working on with T’s Box Records?
Jon Pierce: My new music and my new project are called "PureFormEssence" because it comes from what I do as an artist in my performances. My performance is my essence. I wrote a couple of songs that I’m working with Emmaculate and Terry and it’s sounding great. Really great tracks, great lyrics, inspirational stuff and some sexy stuff too! It’s a little different for me. I have a song called, “Come here and let me show you” that I love. It’s slow and sexy and funky. I want to just take it there!
Black Widow: I’m so happy for you! It sounds like you are in such a great place. I’m excited to see what’s coming soon!
Jon Pierce: I am…it’s some really awesome things coming soon that I can’t wait to share!
Black Widow: I know it’s going to be an incredible night! I can’t wait.