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The Persuasions, 1972
|Origin||Brooklyn, New York, United States|
The Persuasions were formed in Brooklyn in 1962, singing a cappella under corner streetlights and in subway corridors. Their style combined gospel, soul, early rock and jazz into melodic five-part harmonies. Since being discovered by Frank Zappa, The Persuasions have recorded 25 albums to date featuring the arrangements by Jimmy Hayes, Jerry Lawson, Joe Russell, Jayotis Washington and Herbert Rhoad and studio productions of music including tributes to Frank Zappa, The Beatles & The Grateful Dead.
The Persuasions made appearances on such public affairs television shows as Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant on WNEW-TV and Like It Is on WABC-TV in 1968. Frank Zappa was responsible for The Persuasions' first LP, Acappella. He heard The Persuasions singing over the phone from a New Jersey record shop known as Stan's Square Records. The store's owner, Stan Krause, was the group's manager at the time. Prior to that time, The Persuasions had recorded several a cappella tracks for Krause's record label, Catamount Records. Zappa had an appreciation for soul and street corner style singing, and after hearing the group, flew them to Los Angeles to record their first album. The Persuasions were the opening act at The Mothers concerts at Carnegie Hall, 1971. Thirty years later, Zappa fan Rip Rense supervised and encouraged the group in the creation of a Persuasions tribute CD to Zappa, Frankly A Cappella on Earthbeat Records.
The Persuasions later recorded tribute albums consisting of material by the Grateful Dead (Might as Well), the Beatles (The Persuasions sing the Beatles). The last album they made together prior to Lawson's departure was on the Chesky label titled A Cappella Dreams.
Herbert "Toubo" Rhoad, one of the original members of The Persuasions, died in 1988 while on tour and is survived by his wife April and children Paris and Zina. In 1990, The Persuasions performed on the PBS TV special Spike Lee & Company – "Do It A Cappella". Sweet Joe Russell died in 2012 and is survived by his wife Arelena.
In 2007, Jerry Lawson released his first post-Persuasions a cappella CD with his new group, Jerry Lawson and Talk of The Town. In December 2010, Jerry Lawson and Talk of The Town were featured on Series 2 of NBC's The Sing-Off. Lawson was invited back on season 3 as a featured guest without Talk of the Town. He was accompanied by 16 cast members, performing the Arthur Conley hit (written by Sam Cooke) "Sweet Soul Music". In 2015 he released his debut as a solo artist, Jerry Lawson Just A Mortal Man, on Red Beet Records. It was featured on NPR with host Joel Rose.
- Jerry Lawson – tenor, baritone, lead singer, arranger and producer (January 23, 1944, Fort Lauderdale, Florida – July 10, 2019, Phoenix, Arizona)
- Jimmy ‘Bro’ ‘Mr. Bass Man’ Hayes – bass (November 12, 1943, Hopewell, Virginia – May 18, 2017, New York, New York) ex-elevator operator 
- Joseph Jesse ‘Sweet Joe’ Russell – second tenor (September 25, 1939, Henderson, North Carolina – May 5, 2012, Brooklyn, New York) ex-butcher 
- 'Little' Jayotis Washington – first tenor, baritone (born May 12, 1945, Detroit, Michigan) ex-plumber 
- Herbert 'Toubo' Rhoad - baritone (October 1, 1944, Bamberg, South Carolina – December 8, 1988, Sacramento, California) ex-shoe salesman 
In the liner notes to the 2003 album, A Cappella Dreams, the group revealed their musical influences:
- Sweet Joe Russell references The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Soul Stirrers, and "all those gospel greats."
- Jimmy Hayes speaks of Jimmy Ricks [spelled "Rix" in the notes] and Melvin Franklin.
- Jayotis Washington focuses his attention on Louis Jordan.
- Ray Sanders thanks all of The Temptations for his influences.
- Jerry Lawson cites Roy Hamilton, Sam Cooke, Al Hibbler, Brook Benton, and Elvis Presley as his mentors, adding, "Believe it or not, Elvis was a big influence. I thought he was...a fine singer, and I think we do him pretty good."
In popular culture
- Acappella (1970 Reprise/Straight)
- We Came To Play (1971 Capitol, CD reissue Collectables)
- Street Corner Symphony (1971 Capitol, CD reissue Collectables)
- Spread The Word (1972 Capitol, CD reissue Collectables)
- We Still Ain't Got No Band (1973 MCA)
- I Just Want To Sing With My Friends (1974; A&M [not yet issued on CD])
- More Than Before (1974; A&M [not yet issued on CD])
- Chirpin' (1977; Elektra, CD reissue Collectables)
- Comin' At Ya (1979; Rounder/Flying Fish)
- Good News (1982; Rounder)
- No Frills (1985; Rounder)
- Do It A Cappella (1990)
- Live In The Whispering Gallery (1993; Hammer n' Nails)
- Toúbo's Song (1993; Hammer n' Nails)
- Ships at Sea, Sailors and Shoes [with Ned Sublette & Lawrence Weiner] (1993; Qbadisc/Excellent)
- Right Around The Corner (1994; Rounder/Bullseye Blues)
- Sincerely (1996; Rounder/Bullseye Blues)
- You're All I Want For Christmas (1997; Rounder/Bullseye Blues)
- Man, Oh Man: The Power of The Persuasions (1997; EMI [1970-72 Capitol masters compilation])
- On The Good Ship Lollipop (1999; Rhino/Kid Rhino/Music for Little People)
- Frankly A Cappella: The Persuasions Sing Zappa (2000; Rhino/EarthBeat)
- Might As Well...The Persuasions Sing Grateful Dead (2000; Arista/Grateful Dead)
- Sunday Morning Soul (2000; Rounder/Bullseye Blues)
- Blue's Big Musical Movie (2000; Rhino/Kid Rhino)
- The Persuasions Sing The Beatles (2002; Chesky)
- A Cappella Dreams (2003; Chesky)
- Collectables Classics (2006; Collectables [Box set containing all 1971, 1972, & 1977 releases])
- Essential Recordings: A Cappella Soul (2008; Rounder [1979-86 Rounder/Flying Fish/Bullseye Blues compilation])
- The Persuasions Live at McCabe's (2009;Rensart)
- "Party in the Woods" written by Jerry Lawson/"It's Better to Have Loved and Lost" [1968; Minit]
- "One Thing on My Mind"/"Darlin'" [1975; A&M]
- 1972 Les McCann - Talk to the People - "What's Going On"
- 1973 Ellen McIlwaine - We the People - "Farther Along"
- 1973 Garland Jeffreys - Garland Jeffreys
- 1974 Phoebe Snow - Phoebe Snow - "Good Times"
- 1974 Stevie Wonder - Fulfillingness' First Finale - "Please Don't Go"
- 1974 David Essex - David Essex
- 1976 David Soul - David Soul - "Bird on a Wire"
- 1978 Melanie - Ballroom Streets - "I Believe"
- 1978 John Hall - John Hall - "Messin' Round The Wrong Woman"
- 1979 Jimmie Dockett - Different Moods
- 1980 Joni Mitchell - Shadows and Light - "Why Do Fools Fall In Love," "Shadows and Light"
- 1981 The Neville Brothers - Fiyo on the Bayou - "The Ten Commandments of Love"
- 1987 Rory Block - Best Blues and Originals - "God's Gift to Women"
- 1991 Various Artists - Zappa's Universe
- 1992 Rockapella - Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? - "My Home"
- 2000 Paul Pena - New Train - "Gonna Move"
- 2001 Leon Redbone - Any Time - "In The Shade of the Old Apple Tree"
The following various artists recordings contained otherwise unissued Persuasions recordings:
- Various Artists: Bread & Roses: Festival of Acoustic Music (1979; Fantasy)
- Various Artists: Spike & Co. Do It A Cappella [soundtrack] (1990; Elektra)
- Ned Sublette & Lawrence Weiner (with Kim Weston, Junior Mance, et al.): Monsters from the Deep (1997; Qbadisc/Excellent)
- "Persuasions In Village". New York Amsterdam News. July 5, 1969.
- "Our History". Thepersuasions.info. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
- "Jerry Lawson - Original lead singer, arranger and producer of The Persuasions". Jerrylawson.biz. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
- "Soul Singer Jerry Lawson's 'Just A Mortal Man' Almost Came True". Npr.org. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
- Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
- "Jerry Lawson, leader of a cappella Persuasions, dies at 75". Wsbradio.com.
- "R.I.P. legendary Persuasions' singer Jimmy Hayes". Soultracks.com. May 19, 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
- "Mr. Jimmy "Bro" Hayes - Obituary". Blandandtuckerfuneralhomes.com. Petersburg, Virginia. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
- "'Sweet Joe' Russell dies at 72; singer with the Persuasions". Latimes.com. May 13, 2012.
- "Tribute to Joe Russell of The Persuasions". YouTube. May 9, 2012.
- Rock, Doc. "The Dead Rock Stars Club - 2012 January To June". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
- [dead link]
- "Herbert (Toubo) Rhoad, Singer, 44". Nytimes.com. December 15, 1988.
- "The Persuasions - Entertainment Booking Agency". Mspentertainmentagency.com.
- Pitilli, Lawrence (2016). Doo-Wop Acappella: A Story of Street Corners, Echoes, and Three-Part Harmonies. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 167. ISBN 9781442244306.