Pierce Pettis takes on his own songs

From Staff Reports
Black Mountain News | USA TODAY NETWORK
“Pierce Pettis doesn’t write mere songs, he writes literature," Sing Out! magazine has written.

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, “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 concert at White Horse Black Mountain Saturday, March 31 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 advance, $15 door.

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. Landing an unpaid position as a staff writer at the fabled Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, he wrote “Song at the End of the Movie,” which found its way onto Joan Baez’s 1979 album "Honest Lullaby."

Following up on this success, he gravitated 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 discerning artists including Susan Ashton, Dar Williams, Garth Brooks and Art Garfunkel.  A recent project is The New Agrarians, a singer-songwriter trio that also features Tom Kimmel and Kate Campbell. A new Pettis album will be coming out soon.

With his warm voice, witty stage presence and thoughtful, introspective songs, Pettis is a respected figure on the music scene.