Honing his craft, a song at a time


After a lifetime of of crafting finely-wrought, heart-touching songs, singer-songwriter Pierce Pettis feels that he’s finally found his comfort zone.

“The biggest change,” he said 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.” Pettis’ good work can be appreciated in person at White Horse Black Mountain on Friday, Feb. 10.

Born into a musical family in Fort Payne, Alabama, Pettis has always felt the urge make music. He played in a series of adolescent bands (“all of them horrible,”he said) but persevered in playing and writing music that combined rock, folk, country and R&B influences. He eventually landed an unpaid position as staff writer at the fabled Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. While there, his track “Song at the End of the Movie” found its way onto Joan Baez’s 1979 album “Honest Lullaby.”

Following up on the song’s success, Pettis moved to New York and became involved with the fertile 1980s “Fast Folk” movement alongside up-and-coming singer-songwriters like Shawn Colvin and Suzanne Vega. He launched his recording career with an initial independent release, followed by albums on Windham Hill subsidiary High Street Records.

While Pettis was still a staff writer for PolyGram in the ’90s, he signed to Compass Records and produced several more well-received albums. His songs have been recorded by many artists, including Susan Ashton, Dar Williams, Garth Brooks and Art Garfunkel. His most recent recording is “The New Agrarians,” a singer-songwriter trio that also features Tom Kimmel and Kate Campbell.

Mellowing with time

Who: Pierce Pettis

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 10

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $12 advance, $15 door