Ears Wide Open: Chris Pierce


Chris Pierce is winking a little bit, calling his new album “I Can Hear You.” As a teenager, the singer-songwriter suffered from otosclerosis, an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear that resulted in his going deaf in one ear. Yet it did not prevent him from earning the Ella Fitzgerald scholarship for jazz studies at USC, or from becoming one of the most popular soul men at the Hotel Cafe the past six or seven years. (Your L.A. Times’ Buzz Bands columnist tabbed him as an “artist to watch” in 2005.) Fans who know Pierce’s warm, earnest material understand that his concept of “hearing” is metaphorical anyway – his tunes, reminiscent of Bill Withers, seem to come from a heart so open and honest that, your cynicism safely checked at the door, you believe music possesses mystical healing powers too. “Sometimes / the sun won’t shine / in these cold and anxious times / but you’re strong enough / to take a little weather / hard times will bring us together / and it might help if you let yourself smile,” he sings in the piano ballad “Let Yourself Smile.” Hard to argue that. “I Can Hear You” comes out independently on Oct. 11.

||| Download: “Looking for the Spark”

||| Live: Pierce performs tonight at a benefit for Comfort Zone Camp (a nonprofit for children who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling) at the Shore in Hermosa Beach. He celebrates his album release with a show Oct. 11 at the Hotel Cafe, and also performs Oct. 16 at Saint Rocke in Hermosa.

Photo by Ante Rotim