Jonathan Pierce, the Nashville-based gospel singer, has died at the age of 49. A friend said in a Facebook post that Pierce died while recovering from heart surgery.
Pierce was born Jonathan Pierce Hildreth in Odessa, Texas, in November 1970. He relocated to Nashville shortly after graduating high school in order to further his music career. Pierce largely retired from music in the early 2000s to focus on his interior design career following the release of his album For You. As an interior designer, Pierce spent time as the lead designer on CMT’s Ultimate County Home in 2003. He operated his design business, Pierce & Company, in Nashville.
Pierce Credited the Church With ‘Everything’ In His Life
During his musical career, Pierce spent time as the lead singer of The Imperials and as part of the Gaither Vocal Band. In 2000, Pierce’s solo album, Sanctuary, made it to No. 35 on the Billboard Top Contemporary Christian Albums chart.
In January 2016, Pierce told Christian music news site Hallels, “The church has to be credited with everything, what I’ve done, who I am. That’s where I got my vocal experience and passion [for music].” In the same feature, Pierce said it was Naomi Judd who discovered him and brought him to the attention of The Imperials.
One Friend Referred to Pierce as a ‘Brilliantly Talented Artist & Always a Friend’
Pierce’s friend Paul Ciupek said in a Facebook post on May 10, “Just heard that Christian artist Jonathan Pierce has passed away. Complications from heart surgery. God bring comfort and mercy to his family.”
Another of Pierce’s friends, fellow singer Jody McBrayer, said in a tweet, “So extremely sad to hear about the tragic passing of Jonathan Pierce. Praying for all of his family and loved ones today. He was a brilliantly talented artist and always a friend.”
Pierce Said the Goal of His Concerts Was to Help the Audience Understand What Christ Wants Them to Do
In December 1999, Pierce took his talents to musical theater, appearing in Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
In a 2001 interview with Cross Rhythms, the singer spoke about his performance style, saying:
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.
Pierce Was Married to Writer Denise Jones Between 1994 & 2007
Pierce was married to Denise Jones between 1994 and 2007. In a 2005 interview with Cross Rhythms, Pierce said Jones co-wrote six songs on his album Sanctuary. Pierce said of his then-wife, “Denise is a great lyricist. She’s been really good for me because I’ll have these thoughts and I’ll write them down. Then she’ll help me fine-tune them. There is that disagreement every once in a while. After a few minutes you realize, ‘you know, it really doesn’t matter.’”
Jones is a writer and novelist who graduated from the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism. In an October 2005 interview with Crosswalk, Jones said that the lead character from her fictional novels, Savannah, is a huge fan of Pierce’s music. The character was named after Jones’ native home of Savannah, Georgia.