It has been a long time since I last chatted with Heather Pierson, a singer/songwriter whose love of music transcends musical genres. I recently learned that she was going to be appearing at One Longfellow Square on Dec. 9 with two performances of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” one in the afternoon and the other an evening show. I reached out and got permission to reconnect with Ms. Pierson to find out more about this seasonal favorite, And from her Conway, New Hampshire, home she talked about not only that Portland gig but also about what’s been happening in her musical life since last we spoke.

Q: So you are coming to Portland for a show, correct?

Pierson: Yes, One Longfellow Square and also we’re doing the show in Bangor this year.

Q: Oh, when is that?

Pierson: It’s on Saturday, Dec. 15, and the one in Portland is on Sunday, Dec. 9.

Q: Well, that’s good because I can cover both of those with this interview. And you’re doing two performances in Portland on that day, right?

Pierson: Yeah, we’re doing two shows at One Longfellow this year and just the one in Bangor at the Bangor Arts Exchange.

Q: Great, so this one conversation will preview three shows. I love it what that happens. I also love the music that’s in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Pierson: Me, too! I remember growing up as a kid watching that special every year on TV and just being so enamored with the music that was going on in the background, and I’m not the only one. I mean, a lot of people of a certain age grew up with that, and that was their introduction to jazz — hearing that music on the “Charlie Brown Christmas” special.

Q: Being of that “certain age” myself I know what you mean.

Pierson: The music has such an emotional impact. I mean, not only was Vince Guaraldi a really talented jazz musician in his own right. Even before he started working with CBS on “Peanuts” he was a very accomplished, Grammy-award-winning jazz pianist. I just love to shine a spotlight on the genius of him and what he brought to these Christmas carols and the original things that he composed for the “Charlie Brown Christmas” show. That’s what most people know him for.

Q: Now what will you be doing at these special performances?

Pierson: Well, in the show we do everything from the “Charlie Brown Christmas” album, and then we also do some other things that he either wrote — that didn’t have anything to do with that special — or just other songs that he was known for arranging himself.

Q: So, what else have you been doing recently?

Pierson: Oh, boy. Actually, earlier this morning I was trying to remember how long I’ve known you. I remember sending stuff to you when I was a teenager playing in a band called Garajh Mahal and we were getting our cassettes reviewed in FACE Magazine — when FACE Magazine was still a thing. It’s been a really long time that you and I have both been at what we’ve been at, and it’s been a while since we’ve spoken. Music has been my full-time thing for nearly a decade now. And what I’ve been doing most recently in my life — besides getting ready for the “Charlie Brown Christmas” — (is) touring the whole country with my acoustic trio, who are Shawn Nadeau on bass and my friend Davy Sturtevant who plays basically anything with strings on it, and he also plays cornet. We’ve been performing mostly my original music. We’ve got a couple of CDs out, we have a bunch of new material that we’re going to start recording in the new year for another album. So that’s been very gratifying, and the farthest we’ve gone so far is the main stage at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas, this year. That was a huge deal. So, we’ve been touring a lot and that’s been taking a lot of my time. My most recent project is with my friend Bernice Martin. It’s a collection of songs called “Heart Songs & Circle Songs.” It’s a songbook and CD project that has been very well-received by the U.U. churches all over the country. They’re starting to order it for their congregations. It’s a very different repertoire than what I’m doing with the acoustic trio, which is mostly rounds and chants and almost hymn-like songs for choirs and several-part harmonies and that sort of thing. Also last year I launched a musical meditations project on my website where every three days I upload a brand new, completely improvised piece of instrumental piano music that I record here at home. I make these available for free, download. Or if you want to make a donation to the project you can do that, as well. So, I’ve been hearing from listeners all over the world that look forward to these every three days. So, yeah, there’s been a lot of things on my plate and a lot of different things. I’ve always said that music is like a language, and there are so many dialects of that language. And I’d like to speak as many of them as my skills will allow me to do.

Q: Wow, that is impressive as well as daunting, one would think. Oh, by the way, is your acoustic trio the ones performing the shows in Portland and Bangor with you?

Pierson: No, this is my jazz trio which is the same bassist, Shawn Nadeau, and then our friend Craig Bryan who is playing drums with us. I’ll be playing piano and doing a little bit of singing, there are a few vocals in the “Charlie Brown Christmas” album so you’ll hear me sing a little bit.

Q: When you do the acoustic trio, do you sing in that?

Pierson: With Shawn and Davy, yeah, there’s a lot of singing in that group. We do a lot of three-part harmonies, as well, so it’s a very different repertoire.

Q: I get the feeling that this seasonal program that the Heather Pierson Jazz Trio is putting on has a special meaning for you.

Pierson: It really is just about the moment when we — the audience and us — are all together in the room and we’re presenting this at this time of year. It’s such a busy time of year; everybody’s pulled in a million directions all the time anyway, but especially around the holidays. So, to be able to create a time when we can all connect with this thing that we all have in common, which is the love of this little half-hour TV show that’s been on TV for 50-some-odd years, and to share that moment together, that’s the real purpose of the show.

Q: Is there anything, Heather, that you’d like me to pass on to the readers of this article?

Pierson: I don’t think so. I think we’ve covered it pretty well. But, every year that we’ve done this show at One Longfellow Square it does sell out so that’s why we’re doing two shows this year. Up in Bangor at the Arts Exchange we did this show for the first time last year, and the last I heard that one is close to selling out, too. So my advice is to get your tickets early.

Lucky Clark has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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