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Urban, R&B, Soul, Acappella, Male, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000, 2010s
The five original members were lead singer, arranger and producer Jerry Lawson, "Sweet Joe" Russell, Jayotis Washington, Herbert "Toubo" Rhoad, and bassman Jimmy "Bro" Hayes.
The Persuasions can be categorized as an a cappella group which has covered gospel and popular music of each decade in which they performed and recorded. They have covered artists as varied as Frank Zappa, The Grateful Dead, Roy Hamilton, Jerry Butler, Sam Cooke, and Elvis Presley. As well as toured, performed, and recorded with Joni Mitchell, Liza Minelli, The Grateful Dead, and Ray Charles. In addition to their own recordings, they have appeared on albums by artists such as Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Don McLean, Paul Pena, and their version of "Papa Oom Mow Mow" appears on the soundtrack of Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
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 groups manager at the time. Prior to that time, The Persuasions had recorded several a cappella tracks for Krause's legendary doo-wop/acapella label Catamount Records. Zappa had a great appreciation for Soul and Street corner style singing and immediately after hearing them flew the group to Los Angeles to record their first album. 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), and U2 (The Persuasions Sing U2). Their constant eclectic choice of material, as well as the clever, unique direction of their arrangements, have been hallmarks of their live work and recordings since their earliest days.
Toubo Rhoad, one of the original members, died in 1988. Lawson left the group in 2003. Groups as varied as Take 6, Rockapella, The Nylons and Boyz II Men cite The Persuasions as major influences.
The current group members (as of 2010) consist of two original Persuasions: Joe Russell and Jimmy Hayes, rounded out by newer members Dave Revels (2009) and Ray Sanders (since 1996). Dave Revels joined the group officially in 2009 and has since taken over the role of arranger and producer for the group's recordings. He first recorded with the group in 2002 with former Lead Jerry Lawson on the Beatles tribute CD and then took over as arranger and producer in 2005 on the U2 CD on Chesky records, following Lawson's departure. He arranged and produced their latest CD on ZOHO Label, the critically acclaimed "Knockin' On Bob's Door," the music of Bob Dylan, released in November of 2010. Long time contributor on many of the group's recording "B.J." Jones still performs and records with the group.