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Jonathan Pierce - Sanctuary Feature

  • 2000 21 Jan
Jonathan Pierce - Sanctuary Feature

God has a very clever way of using our past experiences to bring us to places we can never imagine. He has a way of gracefully taking individuals or job situations that have crossed our path to develop us for future ministry. For Curb recording artist {{Jonathan Pierce}}, his musical path passed through the longest-running group in contemporary Christian music (The Imperials), as well as the "First Family" of Christian music (the Gaithers), before embarking on his hugely successful solo ministry.

As a solo artist, Pierce released the ==One Love== and ==Mission== projects, which have spawned the immensely popular anthems "One Love," "Healing Hands," "I Believe In Christ," and more. His newest release, ==Sanctuary==, continues in his tradition of vocal-driven contemporary pop with an inspirational praise-inducing element throughout. His music takes you to church, even as it scales the top of the charts.

Reflecting on his days with The Imperials and Gaither Vocal Band, Pierce said the contrast couldn't have been more different. "Looking at both groups," he recalled, "there were two major differences - the music and the system.

"With the Imperials, the style of music was pop with full bands and really aiming toward adult contemporary radio play. With the Vocal Band, it was the classics - the roots of Christian music. Bill was interested in preserving the history of Southern Gospel, while also using the Gaither songs that touch people in a special way.

"The system was simple with The Imperials - you were an Imperial. You weren't to have a solo career or outreach of your own because the group was the thing that was most important. Bill and Gloria wanted you to have your own deal, if possible, so you could have outreach on your own when you weren't with the group. They encouraged you to reach for the next level and they always tried to work around your schedule as they were setting up their plans."

It's this caring environment nurtured by the Gaithers that creates a long string of all-star musical talent that have passed through their ranks -- {{Sandi Patty}}, {{Steve Green}}, {{Carman}}, {{Larnelle Harris}}, {{Michael English}}, Jim Murray, Gary McSpadden, etc.

"Bill is not ever threatened by anyone," said Jonathan. "He always pushes you out front with the group and out on your own when the time comes. He knew what he had to do to help us grow as artists, as well as knowing that there would be a time for us to leave."

Pierce is extremely excited about his new musical venture - his third solo project, ==Sanctuary==, - and about his being joined by the Christ Church Choir, Christ Church Youth Choir and {{The Katinas}}. "Phil Naish produced the entire project which is new for me," he said. "In the past, I've had multiple producers which gives a project different flavors. This new album is more anchored with Phil as a solo producer."

He said that he has a specific purpose for ==Sanctuary==. "The goal for this project is different than those in the past," he reflected. "While ==Mission== was more of a mission statement for people, this album is more of a mission statement for individuals living for Christ.

"There is a song on this project called 'Audience of One.' It centers on my priority about who I please with my life. If I please Him and do everything as He would have me do it, I'll love my brother and be a good human being in our society."

He and Naish traveled from New York to Los Angeles laying tracks for the new project. In addition, ==Sanctuary== will be published in choral music form and used as part of Jonathan's upcoming tour which will emphasize performances in churches. He will be using the local church choirs as his backups for the concert. Along with his emphasis on church venues, Pierce will also be continuing his involvement with Peter Lowe's motivational stadium events.

Pierce has had the opportunity to look at life from both sides of the musical spectrum - as a group singer with The Imperials and The Gaither Vocal Band, as well as through his own solo concert ministry. When asked to describe both sides, Pierce said, "I really enjoyed being with the groups but I love being solo and having my own ministry as an individual.

"You have to blend both your music and your personality when you're with a group. I feel honored to have been both a part of The Imperials and the Vocal Band. It was a tremendous learning experience and I enjoyed it a great deal. Yet, I'm now the happiest I've ever been being able to tour, to talk with people and hang out with them after the concerts. Touring is different as a solo artist, since you don't have to hop right on a bus after the concert to head out to the next stop.

"Traveling is still a lot of the same, but the venues tend to change as a solo artist. I do more concerts in churches and smaller venues where I can get to meet and talk to people more."

When you attend a Jonathan Pierce concert, what you see is what you get. "I am me and that's what I want to be - me. A concert is filled with me telling stories about myself and others I know. It's like when you're trying to help get people through the night with a fever - whatever I can do to help them understand what Christ wants them to do.

"I can do that best when I speak about my own insecurities and the fact that I can still make it with the Lord's help."

He also views his concerts as being different than his ministry. "This is what I do. Anyone who has chosen a profession, it is what they want to do. Music is what I studied for and this is what I'm called to do. It's just another career and, while it does touch lives, I don't look at it as better than any other.

"While there is an entertainment/ministry aspect to it, the ministry is one-on-one -- from stepping off the stage and talking to someone after a concert, or being at home at my church. If people are concerned, they will get through to you. We write everyone back who writes and I try to help them out whenever I can. I try to steer them into an accountability factor by finding a pastor or someone who is proficient to help them."

One of the things that Jonathan and his wife Denise are looking forward to is starting their family. When that time comes, he has provided for keeping his family's identity away from his ministry/performing identity by changing his performing name to Pierce from the family moniker of Hildreth. "As our family develops, I want my children to have their own identity. That is the main reason I changed my performing name to Pierce. They won't be known for having a singing father."

Reflecting back on his days with the Gaither organization, Jonathan sees a number of similarities between the Gaithers and the Hildreths. "My wife and I are a lot like Bill and Gloria," he said. "Denise is a lyricist and writer and she can also sing. We would love to have the opportunity to help groups and other artists in the future like they've done for me and so many others.

"It will be wonderful to allow artists to be equipped with artistry and then step out to see God move in their lives."

When asked about his long-term goals Jonathan reflected, "I think God has a plan for me to continue in music. I would love to be writing, touring and singing, while looking at the past to see how God was sovereign and merciful to let me continue serving Him in this way. We've been married for five years now and we hope to have children.

"Most of all, though, I hope my relationship with Christ is very strong and the years prove that He is the Lord of my life."