Imagine living a life where you are unable to communicate verbally or express your feelings. Each year, there are many that come into our lives that may have complicated medical issues that need the assistance with others. One Laurel County native, Kip Jervis, began thinking late one night of a young man, Zion, after a discussion with a family member. That discussion led Kip to write, “Zion’s Song.” Recently, he spoke to us about the impact of Zion and how he hopes the song helps others in similar situations.
“The inspiration for the song came from a conversation with my first cousin, Israel Williams,” recalled Kip Jervis. “He’s got a little son that’s nonverbal autistic. His name is Victor Zion Williams, or Zion for short. He’s named after our grandfather, Victor. Zion, which in the Bible is a mountain. We were talking one day. Zion is the type of kid that lightens up a room every time he walks in. He is a beautiful boy that is nonverbal autistic. Israel was explaining to me one day that Zion is well cared for, but the way he communicates, he doesn’t really understand him. There’s a wall there and he said that he wished he knew what Zion felt and that he could express his feelings.”
After the conversation, Kip said that, “I kept having it on my mind and in my heart. I’ve had many song ideas over the years. Something would spark an idea, but this one nagged at me. I knew that there was something else going on. I want to say that there was something spiritual going on there. These words came to me late at night. Before I could get the words on page, the melody started coming to me as I was going. When I got the finished product, I sang it into my phone. I tweaked it some and within a few minutes I had the song. It is almost like a blur to me now.”
When you think of it, those with special needs are truly special in all our lives. “We go around feeling sorry for them sometimes, but they don’t see themselves that way,” according to Kip. “That’s not how they view the world. If we would just pause long enough to maybe pay more attention that we do, we’re here to serve them and help them and we should be. We do things that they need done for them. But what if they’re here to show us what life is about. That was my thought process and that’s the message that we’re trying to convey.”
After Kip pieced the song together, he didn’t look no further than inside his own home for the person to perform on it. He used his talented daughter, Jazlyn Jervis, to sing the song that came from the heart. Kip also used the talents of Taylor Guffey to help coach Jazlyn in her vocals, which were cut separately from the track that was cut in Nashville through the work of Brent Rader and Jimmy Parker. Jimmy and Taylor’s wives, Courtney Guffey and Karen Parker did the background vocals on the track. Joe Payne helped with the rough cut of the song.
When it was time to make the video for “Zion’s Song,” Kip knew that the perfect place would be in his hometown of London with the Camp LEAP program. “Noah White went to Camp LEAP with me to help film the video,” Kip said. “That is a heartwarming experience. My kids both seem to have a compassionate heart. Some of that is taught, but I cannot take credit for all of that. They have a heart for that, and little Zion is just an angel in all our eyes. My kids gravitate towards him so much. It’s been a labor of love.”
Camp L.E.A.P. was designed to focus on children that are challenged socially and behaviorally. It incorporates a system of mentoring along with a reward system for positive behaviors. It has become a popular activity for Laurel County youth, both as campers and mentors, as well as educators. The camp focuses on strengthening each camper’s ability to cope and become comfortable with their own disability in a stress-free environment. The experience is rewarding for those that participate. For more details, be sure to visit https://campleap.com/.
“I try to step into those parents and grandparents’ shoes, but you really can’t. I cannot imagine how these parents really feel trying to see the world through their children’s eyes,” Kip reflects.
The response of the “Zion’s Song” release has been positive. Kip mentioned that he has received messages from many that indicated that he put their thoughts into words. “I was sitting there like a basket case in a puddle of tears reading the reactions,” Kip said. “Hopefully with the good Lord’s help we can pass the song to those beyond London and Laurel County. I hope that it moves people. At the end of the day, I thank God for trusting me with it. Now that He has done that, I’m going to do my best to promote it.”
“Zion’s Song” is now available for download on CD Baby at https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jazlynjervis. Below is the video produced by Noah White during the 2019 Camp L.E.A.P. program.
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.