Instagram

Jonathan Pierce was a renowned figure in the world of Contemporary Christian (CCM) & gospel music for twenty years, before stepping back from the industry to work as an interior designer. He didn’t go far, as he landed lead in a show, Ultimate Country Home, on Country Music Television, and built a design business in Nashville that was quite successful. Sadly, yesterday, May 10, 2020, news began to circulate that he had passed away from complications related to heart surgery.

Pierce, 49, has also been a beloved friend to many in the Nashville LGBT community, which reacted with great sadness to the news. Many, many Facebook posts signaled the impact he and his music had on members of our community, and beyond.

I reached out to Ty Herndon, a friend of Pierce, for some thoughts on the legendary singer. “During my coming out process, he was one of the first people to call me and congratulate me, and he continued support over the years with everything I did,” Herndon said. “I will miss that beautiful magical anointed voice. As a matter of fact, I'm listening right now. Sing it brother.”

LeAnn Rimes was both a friend and customer of Pierce. "He was a true example of the beauty we are capable of bringing to the world when we allow creative expression and our God given gifts to flow through us," Rimes said. "I cannot tell you how much I laughed with that man. He was a joy to be around and his joy is what I will miss about him the most."

Mary Rudy remembers Jonathan Pierce as a son: he lived in her guest house for three years and the two became as close as family. “Jonathan was like a son to me,” she wrote. “He wore his heart on his sleeve and his passion flowed into everything he did, especially his music.”

A common thread among those who responded to our request was that he had a particular vision for how things ought to be, and a passion for carrying that out. “He had a vision for how things should be, and he was committed to realizing that vision,” Rudy explained. “More than anything, he was committed to making the world beautiful—through design, through music, and through the love he shared with all of us who were fortunate enough to know him.”

Wayne Haun, a towering figure in CCM, recalled the last time he was with Pierce: “About a year ago we were all hanging out with some of his friends and he started bragging about me. And he was really pouring it on (which was so not Jonathan, LOL). I finally stopped him and poured it right back. In all those years I had never ever told him how I was probably his biggest fan and how I even borrowed from his technique when I coached in the studio. We were both a crazy crying sloppy mess by the end of the night.”

Many in Nashville and beyond have lost a great friend. As Pastor Reba Rambo said, “To me he will always be an ‘is’ and not a ‘was.’ A spirit that beautiful lives forever. Soar on dear friend. Decorate the heavens & sing your new-born song!”

Below are the observations we collected from some of Jonathan Pierce’s many friends and colleagues, which are included in their entirety:

Ty Herndon (country music singer)

I grew up listening to a lot of southern gospel and contemporary Christian music. I was greatly influenced by groups such as The Imperials, The Happy Goodmans & of course Michael W Smith & Sandy Patti. When I met Jonathan Peirce, I was already a huge fan. His work with The Imperials, and the Gaither Vocal Band is absolutely perfection. His solo album will remain one of my top favorites-and go-to’s forever. The man could simply sing the phone book. And he did it with a heavenly emotion that very few artist possess.

He was my friend. And like any friendship we had our ups and downs. He could be very passionate and heated at times. Sometimes you would win the debate. Sometimes you would not. But he always made me think.

And he always supported me. During my coming out process, he was one of the first people to call me and congratulate me, and he continued support over the years with everything I did. He genuinely wanted to know that I was doing OK.

I know he was working on a book about his own journey. I pray we see those pages one day. He left a huge legacy of music that will be with us forever. And his eye for beauty and design will remain in our hearts and in many of our homes.

I will miss your debates, Jonathan Peirce. But most of all I will miss that beautiful magical anointed voice. As a matter of fact, I'm listening right now. Sing it brother. Sing it.

LeAnn Rimes (country music singer)

Jonathan was a dear friend. For more than a decade, he helped soulfully create my family and my most precious space, our home. He was a true example of the beauty we are capable of bringing to the world when we allow creative expression and our God given gifts to flow through us. I cannot tell you how much I laughed with that man. He was a joy to be around and his joy is what I will miss about him the most.

Mary Frances Rudy (close friend)

I met Jonathan Pierce about 12 years ago. He had just sold his home and needed somewhere to live while he looked for a new place, and I had an empty guest house. A few weeks turned into three years. Jonathan’s mother had passed away, he missed her, and I filled that vacant place in his life. Also, I have four children, all grown and moved out, and he filled that place for me.

I loved having Jonathan around—and I really loved having a resident interior designer! There isn’t a shelf or corner of my home that doesn’t show Jonathan’s touch. He couldn’t resist using his talent to make my home look better, for the people we entertained and for us just being at home. He even featured my outdoor patio and covered porch in an episode of his HGTV show “Interiors, Inc”.

Jonathan was like a son to me. He wore his heart on his sleeve and his passion flowed into everything he did, especially his music. Jonathan was passionate about his Christian beliefs and he shared those beliefs in his numerous songs. He was a man blessed with many talents, especially in music and interior design.

He had a vision for how things should be, and he was committed to realizing that vision. More than anything, he was committed to making the world beautiful—through design, through music, and through the love he shared with all of us who were fortunate enough to know him.

Brad Ramsey (interior designer)

I had the privilege of working for Jonathan Pierce for almost 4 1/2 years from 2008 - 2013. I was part of the Pierce & Co. design team that was featured on a 13 episode series on HGTV, and I counted him as both a mentor and a friend. Though our paths would ultimately lead us different directions, I have many fond memories of that time.

JP was supremely talented in both design and music, and I was able to glean much from him that has helped propel me into my own design career for the last 7 years. We shared a similar faith background that made both of our journeys coming out more complex and more painful at times. But it is that same faith that makes me confident that he is now in a better place and singing with the saints as only he can.

Pastor Reba Rambo (singer/songwriter)

Jonathan Peirce is an otherworld soul gifted with an arrowed voice than can penetrate the hardest heart. He’s meticulous. His precise placement of the perfect note is as deliberate as the juxtaposition of fine art on a gallery wall. He has the eye. To me he will always be an ‘is’ and not a ‘was.’ A spirit that beautiful lives forever. Soar on dear friend. Decorate the heavens & sing your new-born song!

Joel Lindsey (songwriter)

I’ve known Jonathan Pierce for almost 30 years and had the privilege of working with him many times, in studios and on various stages. He always made every song his own and left you feeling like he poured 100% of his soul into each performance. My first Top 10 Contemporary Christian song was one that Jonathan sang a verse on, when he was with The Imperials. Later, when he joined the Gaither Vocal Band, he chose one of my songs as his first solo with them and I was thrilled because I knew he would nail it, and he did! There wasn’t a bigger, better voice in Nashville than Jonathan’s.

Wayne Haun (songwriter/producer)

I first met Jonathan in 1992 in the green room at Christ Church in Nashville. I was in the orchestra and he was a part of the special music that day. He was very nice and close to my age. We chatted a while. When he sang a duet that day from the new Imperials record, I melted into my seat. I’d never heard a voice like that.

Afterwards, I asked where he found that song and he mentioned 2 writers, Reggie Hamm & Joel Lindsey. I immediately committed those names to memory in case I ever got to meet them one day. I also bought the CD that day and wore it out for weeks. Over the years we sang in choir together, took a few trips, attended several parties where we ALWAYS ended up around the piano singing songs we swore we hated, and yet we never sang anything else.

One night I totally botched a key change in his most popular song, and then I blamed it on him just for the fun of it. If we were ever separated for months at a time, we’d just pick back up where we left off.

He was gracious to my family too. When he sang with Gaither Vocal Band he went out of his way to embrace them at concerts.

About a year ago we were all hanging out with some of his friends and he started bragging about me. And he was really pouring it on (which was so not Jonathan, LOL). I finally stopped him and poured it right back. In all those years I had never ever told him how I was probably his biggest fan and how I even borrowed from his technique when I coached in the studio. We were both a crazy crying sloppy mess by the end of the night.

The last time I spoke to Jonathan was at a supper at our friends Mary Frances and Joe’s house. We were eating fried chicken and guzzling sweet tea and he made us all cornbread from a skillet (buttermilk, no sugar, please.) If I had known that was gonna be our last time together ... well, we all say that. But I am SO glad this guy was a part of my life and career.

When we all get to heaven, I want Jonathan to come over to my mansion and make that cornbread again. You’re all invited. He won’t mind. I will find you again, Jonathan.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

Red Bull Unlocked Nashville


Keep reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

Rumble Boxing Gulch, Nashville


Keep reading Show less

Post-Covid travel planning

Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

Keep reading Show less