The Pers' Story
Pers on video
photo by Valerie Ford Ramos
"You need to buy this
Contemporary A Cappella Society.
"If you are
involved in a cappella today, plan on being involved in the future, or have
been in the past, you need to buy this album."
"This is a learning experience for all who listen. Take notes on their
chemistry, how they react to the audience, and how they still love a
cappella music 46 years after they first started singing it."
"They ignored numerous chances to jump into pop or R&B and make the big
bucks, and probably went through tough times. In the end, they continued to
carry the torch for our genre, and I can only hope that another group uses
the same care and passion as the torch gets passed to new Kings of A
cappella. Who will take the throne?"
"For longtime fans of the
Persuasions, Live at
McCabe's is a great
find, a reminder of this act at its best."
"For those unfamiliar with the group, it is a very nice intro and a good
reason to seek out more by this legendary, groundbreaking quintet."
"The Persuasions have long been known as strong live performers, and
Live at McCabe's
shows them in their glory. Their gritty harmonies are consistently spot on,
and Lawson's rough-hewn leads are terrific."
"Great energy, and it never
---Oliver di Place.
"The Persuasions take the
stage, and dive right into 'I Woke Up in Love This Morning.' They capture
audience immediately. They deliver a wonderful combination of high energy
and the total focus that is so necessary to make a cappella music work. . .
Jerry Lawson was the main arranger for the Persuasions during his time with
the group, (Lawson left in 2003), and his arrangements here shine."
"The Persuasions have come to save your soul."
---David McGee, The Bluegrass Special
"Got the Beyonce blues? Tired of auto-tune? Can’t figure out what Ke$sha has
done to merit a feature story in the NY Times Arts section? Curious as to
whether the Times is in fact on Taylor Swift’s payroll? Falling asleep to
that Antlers album, are you?
"Well, friends, the Persuasions are here to save your soul. America is safe
"They sound heavenly, even
when singing Zappa's hilarious blasphemy."
---Steve Terrell, The
"On their latest release, The Persuasions: Live at
McCabe's Guitar Shop, they do songs made famous by Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole,
Elvis Presley, The Drifters, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Mills Brothers, and
Frank Zappa, and songs written by Arlen and Mercer, Leiber and Stoller,
Thomas Dorsey, Kurt Weill, and Bobby Bare.
"But it all sounds like The Persuasions to me. And that's a good thing."
mccabe's show review.
A SPINE-TINGLING SCALE OF 1 TO 10,
THE PERSUASIONS RULE WITH A CONSISTENT 12
By Robert Adels
by Valerie Ramos-Ford.
"McCabe's became home for us. I didn't have in mind that we weren't going to
be together in a few years,
so I guess that makes this recording that much more historic. We came out
smokin'!" ---Jerry Lawson.
Santa Monica,CA---More than anyone else, The Persuasions
personify the essential difference between a tired oldies act and a timeless
a cappella attraction. "And we still ain't got no band!" lead singer
Jerry Lawson boasted to the worshipping, sold-out crowd.
instrument-free heroes paved the way for today's
platinum a cappella acts Take 6 and Bobby
McFerrin, as well as for the retro-hip-hop styles of
Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd. Launching
their own '60s career after rock's second "doo-wop" boom
faded, The Persuasions pursued a soulful dream that has
artisically defied musical time and tide through four
At McCabe's, the quartet
saluted Frank Zappa (who gave these street-smart
voices their first label deal on his early Straight
Records), with their slant on his "The Meek Shall
Inherit Nothing." But they did so only after
counterbalancing Frank's atheism with a reverent version
of Curtis Mayfield's "Amen" (straight from their
command performance at the Tel Aviv Hilton.)
While The Persuasions have yet
to enjoy a hit single, gold album or major label
mega-support, they enjoy their music more than all the
groups they've survived put together. And it shows.
Jerry Lawson, Jimmy Hayes,
Jayotis Washington, and
Joseph Russell sing a cappella like they
invented it. But The Persuasions fully realize this
venerable singing style goes back beyond their 30 career
years, all the way to Gregorian chants and barbershop
quartets. They capture the music's black history by
delivering Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang" with the
intensity of a Civil War-era field holler. They can also
send-up that history with a Vegas-style version of "Swanee
The doo-wop '50s is their most
obvious reference point and here The Persuasions create
a jukebox for its soul, sampling bits of nine songs from
"Sunday Kind of Love," to "The Great Pretender" into one
The death of longtime baritone
member Herbert "Toubo" Rhoad in 1988 may have
reduced this quintet to a quartet, but they still
enlarge every song they sing, no matter how slight (The
Tymes' "So Much in Love") or vast (Elvis' "Return
To Sender") the impact of its originator. Their own
vocal mix has enough rough edges to re-confirm the
sidewalk roots of each and every tune.
They make The Five Satins'
ultimate doo-wop anthem, "In The Still Of The Night"
their own by giving it back to the crowd, inviting
anonymous audience members on stage for their own group
singalong encore spotlight. (Spotted in the large
impromptu chorus at McCabe's was Michelle Shocked.)
The Persuasions' father-figure
role in Spike Lee's PBS-TV special and soundtrack
album, Spike & Co. Do It A Cappella
has led to overdue re-issues from Elektra, Capitol,
Rounder, and other former labels. We hope to hear a new
album from them shortly.
This is no oldies group. On a
Spine-Tingling Scale of 1 to 10, The Persuasions rule
with a contemporary, consistent 12.
Saying Goodnight to McCabe's for the very last time.
photo by Betsy Wheeler-Kollgaard.
© 2009-10 Rip Rense/Rensart Records. All rights