St. John’s Episcopal gets a dose of pop this year when musician Cary Pierce one-half of the alternative-rock band Jackopierce, joins the school as its artist-in-residence. Between putting on summer concerts in Chicago and Martha’s Vineyard, Pierce fills us in on his hopes for the students of St. John’s.
Didn’t Jackopierce break up a while back?
We broke up in 1998. We [Jack O’Neil and I] didn’t speak for about a year, but we got back together in late 2002. In 2008 we released a record, “Promise of Summer”. We played 25 shows last year, coast to coast, so we are going pretty strong. We don’t tour; we just do shows.
Where in Dallas do you live?
I live in the Highland Park area. I went to SMU, but I also lived in Lake Highlands for a while, off Goforth, and I lived in East Dallas for some time, in the M Streets.
Do you have kids of your own?
My sons Jordon, 9; Jaron, 3; and Elijah, 10 months.
What made you want to work with the kids at St. John’s?
Brad Reeves, St. John’s dad and Lakewood resident — he and I are college friends — has a son and daughter who are talented singers. We got talking about creating an art enclave here in our area. You’ve heard of Charlie Peacock? He is a Nashville musician well known for nurturing emerging young artists. He converted a church into a studio, and people come from all over … Brad and I have brainstormed about how we could bring something like that here. Spiritually, we share similar ideas … we wanted to cultivate and help kids in Dallas, and mentor them before they enter the musical scene. Some of my early experiences were pretty rough, and I could have used a mentor.
What will you be doing at St. John’s?
I will head up the middle school pop choir. If you go to youtube.com and look up PS22, you will get an idea of what type of thing I have in mind. I think for myriad reasons choir interest has dwindled at the middle-school age. This demographic is interested in pop culture, and I hope to marry some of the popular music that the kids will enjoy with spiritual music the parents and faculty might enjoy.
Why might choir be important for these kids?
This age is pivotal in their lives. It’s not just important for the musical education, but for the sense of community, being part of something and being on a team. Not all students will play sports; here’s an alternative. And there’s no better feeling for a parent than to sit in the audience and watch your child — whether it’s a sport, a school play or choir performance.
What exactly is the role of artist-in-residence?
I will teach a 45-minute morning class. Sometimes, I will visit the chapel services — I attended one already with my son, and it was a lot of fun — or other events that involve music. I am still working on producing a new Jackopierce record and a Tiger Darrow record [she’s a singer songwriter out of Booker T. Washington, where Pierce teaches a songwriting class], so I won’t be on campus all the time, but I really look forward to working with these kids.