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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.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
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:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.