At first glance, Heather Pierson appears to be the girl next door – youthful, friendly, a little bit shy - but she is an award-winning pianist, multi-genre singer/songwriter, arranger, bandleader, and performer. From New Orleans-style jazz and blues to rousing Americana and poignant folk narratives, Heather’s memorable live performances feature her virtuosity on piano, her bell-tone vocals, and her commanding yet playful stage presence while wielding a tenor banjo, melodica, or acoustic guitar. She performs both solo and with her acoustic trio, featuring Davy Sturtevant on strings/cornet and Shawn Nadeau on upright bass. Her music moves seamlessly and effortlessly from one style to the next, and a growing catalog of wildly divergent CD releases reflects her boundless creativity.
Born to a Scottish émigré mother and Navy veteran machinist father in Joplin, Missouri, Heather began in life in the single-traffic-light town of Galena, Kansas. Music was constantly spilling out of the speakers of her parents’ stereo – a diverse playlist that included The Allman Brothers, Kansas, Cream, The Beatles, KISS, Cat Stevens, Mario Lanza, Jose Feliciano and Anne Murray. This diversity served to open Heather’s young mind to the rich and varied language of music and to lay the foundation for her future endeavors and experimentations.
There was also another source of music and inspiration in Heather’s childhood home – her father’s old Selmer clarinet. There were many nights when Heather would find herself sitting Indian-style on the floor in front of her father as he played along, note for note, with his cherished Pete Fountain and Woody Herman records. Though he certainly could have, he never played professionally – his was a love of the music itself, for its own sake – a deep, undying love that he passed down to his only child.
After Heather relocated with her parents to rural Maine at the age of five, her father dug out his old John Thompson piano books and began teaching her how to read music, how to hold her fingers just so on the piano. “I’ll never forget it,” she recalls. “The very first time I played the piano – a real piano – I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do, every moment that I had the chance to do it.”
After enjoying modest success with the release of several solo records (Make It Mine in 2010; The Open Road in 2012; The Hard Work of Living in 2013; Motherless Child in 2014), Heather burst upon the national folk scene in 2015 with her trio.
The Heather Pierson Acoustic Trio features Shawn Nadeau on upright bass and Davy Sturtevant on, as Heather often puts it from stage, "everything else" - guitar, mandolin, dobro, fiddle, cornet. Originally hailing from Erie, PA, Davy Sturtevant is a veteran touring artist, producer, engineer, songwriter, and performer who now makes his home in Lovell, ME. Armed with a gorgeous tenor voice and a mighty arsenal of instruments ranging from dobro to fiddle to cornet that come to life in his capable hands, Davy is at once a witty, thoughtful, and engaging stage presence. New Hampshire native Shawn Nadeau brings a rock solid thump and nearly two decades of performing experience to the trio, informed by a wide spectrum of unique rhythmic and melodic sensibilities ranging from rockabilly to reggae to jazz. In their able hands, these three veteran musicians have catapulted Heather's live performances of her deep well of Americana originals - folk, jazz, blues - with intricate instrumental arrangements and stirring three-part vocal harmonies. The trio’s debut EP, Still She Will Fly, was released in May 2015. Its title track was the #2 single on the Folk radio charts for the year in 2015, and three other songs were also in the Top 100 singles on Folk radio in 2015. The group is currently wrapping up work on their first full-length record, set to release in early 2017.
Throughout her colorful career, her eclectic skill set continues to propel her onto concert hall stages and into barrooms, coffeehouses, resort hotels, living rooms and churches. With over 200 shows a year in venues all over the United States, her nearly non-stop performance schedule speaks of her tireless work ethic and endless devotion to her craft. Defying genre and classification and yet fully embracing all musical styles, Heather is an artist who speaks the language of music in as many dialects as her abilities will allow. Her life’s work, she says, is to share her love of music and of life with others – one song, one heart, one mind at a time.