When Ayron Jones wrote the haunting lyric, “Got me on my knees / too much smoke, can’t breathe,” heard in his new single ‘Mercy’, he meant the words quite literally.
It was August of 2020 when he penned the song along with Marty Frederickson and Scott Stevens, and by that point, during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, the whole world appeared to be on fire.
“I just felt like the line epitomized where we were in America,” Jones says. “It was like taking a telescope and giving people a perspective of America from an outsider and what it felt like to experience this time. It was a rough story about what was really going on here in this country—and particularly for me, as a Black man.” The song, full of charged lyrics and melodies, strongly captures a collective consciousness of the time. It is also, though, underscored by a vision of hope and endurance: through it all, we persevere.
Jones’ own personal story—from the streets of Seattle to full-blown rock star—is no less rough, yet also one filled with perseverance and determination. Jones’ parents both battled drug addiction, and at a young age he was placed in the foster care system before being taken in by his aunt. Money was tight, and Jones struggled to understand both his place in the world and how to overcome his tumultuous youth. Yet, these very elements became the fuel to drive his early career.
Jones was 13 when he first picked up the guitar that belonged to his friend—a friend that he began visiting more frequently just so he could spend more time with the instrument. Recognising his raw talent, his aunt and a neighbour eventually gifted him guitars, and all the while he taught himself to play, picking and strumming until the strings felt like a second skin. “I had a lot of conflicting emotions about my identity and my childhood,” explains Jones, “and until I found the guitar, I didn’t have an outlet. Writing and playing became a channel to express everything that I had been feeling, and then it just became my obsession.”
That self-sufficient tenacity continued to buoy Jones when, at the age of 19, he began releasing music independently. His talent and diligence earned him opportunities with iconic artists such as BB King, Guns N Roses, Janelle Monae, and many more; he forged a path to continuously widen his audience, and as a performer broke barriers as a Black artist in the rock industry.
Jones tells, “in the early days, we would walk into rock clubs and be treated poorly because we didn’t look like the usual rock band; but, after leaving the stage we had won over the hearts and minds of the crowd. We knew that we were doing something to open the door for other artists like us, not just in Seattle but across the world. Fast forward to today, and Seattle has become a Black rock city - prominent Black artists are leading the scene. I’m proud to have endured the hardships and challenges that I did as a performer, in order to open the door for those coming next.”
Jones cultivated a robust following in the Pacific Northwest, cementing himself as a Seattle name and earning the embrace of the city’s musical royalty including Duff McKagan, Mike McCready, and more. His independent rise allowed him to hone his creative vision, and the partnership with Big Machine / John Varvatos Records is the next step in his musical and creative journey. Jones explains, “Had I stayed independent, I don’t think I would’ve had the opportunity to be where I am now, as a chart topper and moving into my first major record,” he says.
His debut single ‘Take Me Away’ cemented that musical vision and chart topping success, hitting Top 5 at Rock Radio and setting the bar for singles to come. Jones is now more poised than ever to leverage his years of experience to steer his forward success. Looking towards the future, Jones explains “I’m excited to get my music heard by a vast audience of people; as an artist you work and work to reach as many ears as possible, for your words to relate to people who have been through similar experiences, and to be a voice for the voiceless.”