Though downtown Asheville's streets are full of buskers — especially on a warm weekend night when the tourists and dinner crowds swarm Battery Park and the Grove Arcade — a stand-out act still does just that: Stands out. That's the story with Leeda Jones, aka Lyric.

Nothing's going to break her stride: Lyric Jones performs at Firestorm Cafe. Photo by Alli Marshall.

On an auspicious evening of crowded sidewalks and clubs spilling music from courtyards and open windows, Lyric (bolstered by the support of a couple friends) stood outside the Double Decker Coffee Company and sang an original tune accompanied by her acoustic guitar. By the time she'd reached the hooky, life-affirming chorus of original tune "Stride" ("I'm a keep it rolling, rolling, steady on …"), an enthralled audience was clapping in time and cheering her on. It was one of those moments — probably pretty similar to stumbling across an unknown Tracy Chapman busking in Harvard Square circa 1986.

Lyric is a young performer, still finding her voice, in a sense. Opening for harmonic duo Sweetwater Revolver at Firestorm Cafe (she is new to playing in clubs, but is beginning to stretch her wings with dates at local venues), her covers included Beyonce's "Halo" and Alanis Morisette's "Ironic" (sung quite unironically and with a confession that the nasally Canadian songstress is one of Lyric's favorites).

But Top-40 tastes aside, when it comes to originals, Lyric is a steady and capable performer. Her original, "Blue Skies," is a hipper "Luka," a phoenix-from-the-ashes story about an abused girl who rises above her problems. The hooky chorus and strong beat are either a clever guise or apt complement for themes of faith that Lyric works into her songs — an important part of this performer's personal mission. "With Jesus Christ as my foundation, I have now become a 'Lyric' for Him," she writes on her MySpace page.

Likely, listeners with a background in Christianity will resonate with Lyric's material; likewise her positive messages coupled with feel-good beats and melodies could serve as inspiration to those going through difficult times. In the same way singer India.Arie has been called "a poet, a songwriter, a daughter, a producer, a musician, a sister, a singer, an advocate, a friend," it's easy to see how Lyric (who names India.Arie among her top influences) could also be, through her music, a friend to the listener in need. This is clearest in "Stride," a song she cowrote with her dad, Asheville-based musician David "P-Funk" Matthews. "Stride" has all the street style of a contemporary R&B hit, but also the faith-based assertion, "Nothing's gonna break my stride, because God is on my side."

Learn more and find show dates for Lyric at

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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