Friday night, you can see a performer who’s been doing her best to make things soulful and funky over in Asheville.
Leeda Jones, who also goes by the name Lyric (“Just because I pride myself off of writing lyrics that have a meaning,” she says), will perform at Foothills Free First Friday at the Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh. She’s looking forward to giving Triangle audiences the same R&B she’s been hitting her hometown audiences with for years.
“There are one or two other bands that play funk and soul, but not really a big funk scene here or soul scene,” says Jones, 27, on the phone from Asheville. “It’s more bluegrass and rock.”
Jones has been playing music since she was 19, learning how to play guitar and piano both by ear and off YouTube tutorial videos. She also has her father, Dave Matthews (no, not that guy), who not only is an experienced bass player but plays bass in her band, as her mentor. It was her old man who told her to start playing on the streets of downtown Asheville.
“My dad mentioned it to me after I started playing guitar,” she remembers. “At first, I was kinda hesitant but, one night, I was like, I’ma try it and just see what happens. I had a really good crowd gather around and made a decent amount of money and, after that, it’s kinda like, oh, I love it. People really took well to it. They really responded to what I had to say and what I had to sing about.”
At the time, she had two songs in her repertoire: an original tune called “Blue Skies” and Beyonce’s “Halo.” “I sang those two songs over and over again in the beginning, which is kinda funny,” she says, chuckling. “Because I would just kinda wait for a different crowd to come and go.”
Nevertheless, she had enough talent for people to start taking notice. “From playing on the streets, people kinda started recognizing me,” she says. She has gone on to open for such performers as Lizz Wright and Warren Haynes. “And that’s how I started getting gigs, by playing by myself on the streets. And my dad joined me with an acoustic bass.”
Last year, Jones rounded up five tunes to put on an EP titled “Perspective,” which can be found on iTunes and Google Play. On the upbeat, uplifting track “You Can Win,” she both sings and raps. You can thank Lauryn Hill (who gets name-checked in the song) for giving her the inspiration to sing and spit bars.
“I wouldn’t call myself an MC,” she says. “I’m a singer, by all means, and a guitar player. But I would definitely say that Lauryn Hill would be the most influential person that comes to me writing a rap or me writing a rhyme.”
One song she didn’t include on the EP (but you can find on her ReverbNation page) is the acoustic number “Amber Rose.” And even though the song is about a beautiful girl with a tumultuous personal life, Lyric says it has nothing to do with the voluptuous model/Kanye West ex. Has she ever thought about changing the name to avoid confusion? “I hadn’t considered it actually,” she says. “I mean, I had thought about it, but I hadn’t considered changing the name of the song or changing the name of the person in the song.”
Hopefully, she’ll perform that tune along with many others Friday, as she and her band perform in front of a Raleigh audience for the first time.
“We’re trying to break into that scene,” she says. “I think this is a good opportunity to kind of start getting out in the Raleigh area a little bit and kinda keep it coming.” She’s also looking to jolt spectators, both male and female, with her brand of girl power. “I just want people to be inspired, you know? I wanna inspire young women to chase their dreams and rock a space just as hard as any other people can. We can do it too.”
What: Foothills Free First Friday, with Outside Soul, Lyric and Baked Goods
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Pour House Music Hall, 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh
Info: 919-821-1120 or thepourhousemusichall.com