LA music veterans from two different worlds, the duo War & Pierce brings together acclaimed guitarist and songwriter Sunny War with powerhouse soul singer and songwriter Chris Pierce.
War & Pierce met back in 2014, finding common ground in music that moves between brilliant fingerstyle guitar, acoustic roots, soul, blues, and the harder edges of LA’s underground scenes. War & Pierce mixes War’s background in LA’s underground punk scene and her current acclaim as a songwriter and guitarist (her recent albums received rave reviews from everyone from Afropunk to NPR, where she recently recorded a Tiny Desk Concert) with Pierce’s established career as a singer/songwriter that’s seen him record eight albums, with his original songs featured in films and TV shows including True Blood, Rosewood, Soul Men, Crash, Dawson’s Creek, Army Wives, and This is Us, for which his song was nominated for “Best Song/Recording Created for Television” and charted #1 on the Billboard Blues chart for consecutive weeks and #12 on the iTunes Top 100 songs.
As the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined both their careers, they’ve been coming together recently to create new music, leading towards a full length slated for release in 2021. Their collective first two singles, “Amen” and “The Map,” are both revelations, and “Amen” especially struck a powerful chord for the current times. After Americana artist YOLA shared the video for “Amen” on Instagram, “likes” came in from Annie Lennox, Pete Townsend, radio DJs from LA’s KCRW, Newport Folk Festival, and the single was just featured on NPR’s World Café and the Pulse of Americana Spotify playlist.
Released in June 2020, “Amen” was written in 2017 following the Charlottesville car attack. At a rally of peaceful protestors against white supremacy, a car drove into the crowd and killed one of the women protesters and injured others. War & Pierce got together after that, planning to write new music, and spent some time talking this over. The duo (along with Grammy winning and Emmy nominated producer/composer Jared Faber), began the new song “Amen” with the opening lyrics, “Lost children, filled with hate. Along the path did they lose their way…” The chorus, “I’m gonna keep praying for us and for them….all I’m asking, can I get an Amen”.
This powerful anthem is a soulful track that was inspired by the continuing injustices of society. Pierce sings soulfully and emotionally as he laments those “lost children filled with hate”. The song features Sunny War's unique and signature acoustic guitar work laid over a modern beat. Chris Pierce brings an intimate and soulful falsetto vocal, reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield but decidedly contemporary. The song ends with a gospel choir taking us for the last ride out.
Internationally acclaimed soul singer/songwriter Chris Pierce has released eight independent albums worldwide. In addition to headlining road tours, he has either performed on stage with or opened worldwide tours for Seal, B.B. King, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Jill Scott, Sara Bareilles, Buddy Guy, Keb’Mo’, Al Green, Cold War Kids, Blind Boys of Alabama, Toots and the Maytals, Aaron Neville and many others. The phrase “open your heart,” for some is a lofty saying, but for Pierce, it’s a conviction that penetrates every aspect of his craft. The notion that music can cut through the isolated and static feelings of individuals worn down by the chaos of everyday life and unite them under one sonic roof to actually feel something together, be it pain, sorrow, frustration, joy, hope or freedom is what has driven him to create, perform and sojourn for over three decades.
Sunny War has performed with or opened for such artists as Keb Mo, Booker T, Angelique Kijo, Mavis Staples and others. Rolling Stone has called her “one of 10 new country artists you need to know!” and she recently performed an NPR’s Tiny Desk concert as well as at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion. Her style lies somewhere between Punk and early Blues. Yes, she may be a Robert Johnson with a shot of Bad Brains, but even this description falls short. The only way to really know Sunny is to immerse oneself in her music. Sunny’s inimitable guitar technique mixed with her haunting vocal sound is unique & intoxicating. Sunny was hopping trains from a tender age, riding free on the rails and living homeless on the streets. Her music has always been raw, and she refuses to shy away from a brutally open honesty about the rougher parts of her life.
Postscript: Sunny War released a new single condemning our current president, “Orange Man”. The single's up on Bandcamp now and all proceeds will be split between Fair Fight Action and Food Not Bombs, which Sunny has been working with closely in Los Angeles. Fair Fight Action an organization founded in 2018 by Stacey Abrams to address voter suppression. Food Not Bombs provides fresh vegan meals for the homeless and those in need. Sunny also released a music video with the song!
Photo Credits: (1ff) War & Pierce (unknown/website).