Kevin Jerome performs “To the Mountain Top”


Kevin Jerome sings about the Mountain Top.

To point out an awkward truth about Asheville’s music scene, there simply aren’t that many black performers on the city’s cultural radar. It’s a town where even the best-known rap and hip-hop acts are mostly composed of white men, and where the most known black busker is an elderly sax player who often doesn’t even bother playing through the first chorus of the song. But there are exceptions. Leeda “Lyric” Jones, for instance, and Kevin Jerome.

I’ve written more extensively about Jerome’s music in another post, and I noted his knack for seeing a new angle in songs like “I’ll Fly Away,” which have already been well explored by artists for the better part of a century. “To the Mountain Top” is an original, and the thing I find most interesting about it the symbolic, if almost hallucinatory, lyrical descriptions and narrative. Clearly, the Mountain Top is a metaphor, and almost certainly a religious one, but the song itself is also a reprimand and a call to action.

It’s not a song with the most clear metaphorical message, and at times it seems more like a stream of consciousness tune. But some of the ideas are so clear, surely the rest of the song must be about something specific, at least to Jerome. And then again, the song may be far more literal than it seems. Is the Mountain Top actually Asheville? For a young and clearly talented songwriter, there’s a surprising depth to this song, even if it gets murky quickly.