Updated: May 2, 2013 8:20PM
We all have struggles. We all have different ways of dealing with challenges. I’ve always turned to music. From the time I was a young child, writing and performing music has always been an unconditional friend and a place of refuge.
I started to lose my hearing at 15 years old, when I was diagnosed with otosclerosis, which is an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear that causes hearing loss. With guidance from family, music teachers and my doctor, I decided to have surgery on my right ear and ended up regaining 85 percent of my hearing on the right side. I was advised to only get surgery on one side at a time, and I still haven’t had surgery on my other ear. Now, 20+ years later, I only have 10 percent hearing on the left side.
My natural instinct after my inner ear surgery was to jump right back into making music. But it wasn’t an easy task. So I worked at it. I listened. I basically learned how to hear music all over again. Then, I received the Ella Fitzgerald scholarship to study music at USC as a Jazz Studies major. With this new opportunity to learn, I sought to find new ways to apply myself and express myself through music.
During college, I was offered a place on several road tours. Since then, I’ve traveled worldwide as an independent musician, sharing stages with B.B. King, Al Green, Aaron Neville, Toots & The Maytals and Seal as well as my own headlining tours. After concerts, I always make a point to head out to meet as many people as possible. When I started playing tours, I began to hear things that I had never heard before. “Thank you for giving me permission to feel something today.” “I really needed to let go today.” “Your music is like medicine to me.” Soon came handwritten letters, and emails with stories about personal experiences of life, death, sorrow, pain, birth and how my songs offered a soundtrack during highly emotional times.
Then it hit me. We musicians not only have a unique opportunity to have our perspectives heard, but a responsibility through openness and vulnerability to heal ourselves and help open the door for emotional and spiritual healing for others. For me, music is all about speaking from my gut — speaking my truths and speaking from the depths of my soul.
Losing my hearing has actually been a hidden gem for me. It’s helped me observe and communicate at a much deeper level. Through listening more closely, it’s given me an opportunity to be a lifelong student of human expression and emotion.
I’m honored to be in Chicago to sing/speak at TEDx Midwest this weekend at Harris Theater. I’m here to testify that music has helped me heal and that it’s a true blessing to be a conduit of musical healing to others.
Music has no known limits. Through love, pain, joy, struggle and celebration, music is here for all of us. Let it move you. Let music in.
Chris Pierce will be speaking and performing at TEDxMidwest at the Harris Theatre on May 3 and 4. Live streaming video will be available at TEDxMidwest.com.