The Persuasions

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

The Persuasions
The Persuasions, 1972
The Persuasions, 1972
Background information
OriginBrooklyn, New York, United States
GenresA cappella
Years active
  • 1969-2003
  • 2017
  • Jimmy Hayes
  • Jayotis Washington
  • Herbert (Toubo) Rhoad
  • Jerry Lawson
  • Joe Russell

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 23 albums to date.


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.[1] Frank Zappa was responsible for The Persuasions' first LP, Acappella.[2] 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. In 1990, The Persuasions performed on the PBS TV special Spike Lee & Company – "Do It A Cappella". The Persuasions later recorded tribute albums consisting of material by the Grateful Dead (Might as Well), and the Beatles (The Persuasions sing the Beatles)

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. Raymond Sanders came in as an additional voice.

Sweet Joe Russell died in 2012 and was survived by his children Joe, Sandra, Keisha and Petronia.

Bass singer James Caldon Hayes passed in May 2017 and is survived by Lavern Hayes, LaZetta Duncan Moore and Gillian Moore.

Jerry Lawson passed in July 2019 and is survived by his wife Julie Lawson, daughters Yvette and Wanda Lawson and grandson Miguel Lawson.

Jayotis Washington currently resides in Brooklyn New York.

In 2007, Jerry Lawson released his first post- Persuasions a cappella CD with his new group, Jerry Lawson and Talk of The Town.[3] 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.[4]

Groups as varied as Take 6, Rockapella, The Nylons, and Boyz II Men cite The Persuasions as major influences.[2]

In May 2019, representatives of all of the original members of the Persuasions collectively sued Warner and Universal for their unpaid royalties. The record companies admitted to having six figures in monies belonging to the Persuasions which they unilaterally decided to "mind for them" as they claimed it would be too hard for black men to figure out how to collect it from unclaimed funds at the Secretary of State. They continue to try to keep their money to date.[5]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed The Persuasions among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[6]


Founding membersEdit


In the liner notes to the 2003 album, A Cappella Dreams, the group revealed their musical influences:

In popular cultureEdit

Steven Spielberg included The Persusasions' cover of Papa Oom Mow Mow in his film E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.[15]



  • Acappella (1970 Reprise/Straight)
  • We Came To Play (1971 Capitol, CD reissue Collectables)[16]
  • 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)

Non-album singlesEdit

  • "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]

Guest appearancesEdit

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)


  1. ^ "Persuasions In Village". New York Amsterdam News. July 5, 1969.
  2. ^ a b "Our History". Retrieved 7 November 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Jerry Lawson - Original lead singer, arranger and producer of The Persuasions". Retrieved 7 November 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Soul Singer Jerry Lawson's 'Just A Mortal Man' Almost Came True". Retrieved 7 November 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^
  6. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Jerry Lawson, leader of a cappella Persuasions, dies at 75".
  8. ^ "R.I.P. legendary Persuasions' singer Jimmy Hayes". May 19, 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Mr. Jimmy "Bro" Hayes - Obituary". Petersburg, Virginia. Retrieved 2017-05-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "'Sweet Joe' Russell dies at 72; singer with the Persuasions". May 13, 2012.
  11. ^ "Tribute to Joe Russell of The Persuasions". YouTube. May 9, 2012.
  12. ^ Rock, Doc. "The Dead Rock Stars Club - 2012 January To June". Retrieved 7 November 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ "Herbert (Toubo) Rhoad, Singer, 44". December 15, 1988.
  15. ^ "The Persuasions - Entertainment Booking Agency".
  16. ^ Pitilli, Lawrence (2016). Doo-Wop Acappella: A Story of Street Corners, Echoes, and Three-Part Harmonies. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 167. ISBN 9781442244306.

External linksEdit