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The Persuasions

The Persuasions are an a cappella group that began singing together in BrooklynNew York in the mid-1960s.

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.


Frank Zappa was responsible for The Persuasions' first LP, Acappella.[1] 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.

Dave Revels, whom The Persuasions recorded with when Jerry Lawson was at the helm, became the vocal arranger of The Persuasions after Jerry Lawson quit the group in 2003. The success of the group after Jerry left stands strong thanks to Jimmy, Jayotis, Sweet Joe Russell, Raymond Sanders and Dave Revels followed by Cliff and Sam.

The Persuasions have continued to have charting albums and standing ovations to full houses at performing art centers, including secondary to the album Ladies and Gentlemen: The Barenaked Ladies and The Persuasions in which the Persuasions line up was Jimmy Hayes, Jayotis Washington, Dave Revels, Cliff Dawson, Ray Sanders and Sam White.

In 2007, Jerry Lawson released his first post-Persuasions a cappella CD with his new group, Jerry Lawson and Talk of The Town.[2] 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.

Groups as varied as Take 6RockapellaThe Nylons, and Boyz II Men cite The Persuasions as major influences.


Founding members


  • Acappella (1970 Reprise/Straight)
  • We Came To Play (1971 Capitol, CD reissue Collectables)[11]
  • 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)
  • The Persuasions Sing U2 (2005; 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)
Non-album singles
  • "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]