The Persuasions – The Kings of A Cappella 2018-07-04T09:22:13+00:00

The Persuasions

1963-2003

Welcome to the official website of the original, authentic, world-renowned Kings of A Cappella, The Persuasions. It exists to celebrate and perpetuate their history and legacy, under the auspices of the group’s co-founder, lead singer and arranger, Jerry Lawson.

About The Persuasions
Never A Doo Wop Group
Discography
Videos

Jerry Lawson, The PersuasionsJerry Lawson (tenor, baritone, lead singer emeritus, arranger & producer)

Lead singer, tenor, baritone and sole arranger. Being the group’s vocal arranger Jerry chose 99% of all recorded material. Thanks to his eclectic musical taste his catalog includes music from The Partridge Family to Zappa.  And he is quick to say “not every song can be ‘persuasionized’.” He also co-produced 22 of their 23 albums. And as with many groups who have been together for several decades, internal conflicts soon began to take their toll. Jerry went his own way in 2003, effectively ending The Persuasions’ signature sound and character.  You can learn more about Jerry’s projects since his departure at his website. And here is a teaser from the documentary that is currently in production about Jerry’s legacy, The Jerry Lawson Story.

Home town: Apopka, Florida

First record ever bought: “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy,” by Lloyd Price.

First show ever seen: “When I moved to New York in 1961 and met Jimmy Hayes, he took me to the Apollo Theater. I was wiped out! To know that I could pay two dollars and see Sam Cooke! That was my first show. I was there every day after that, man. I saw James Brown, The Drifters, The Temptations, all of the groups I heard on the radio in Florida. I was really wiped out.”

Jimmy Hayes, The PersuasionsJimmy Hayes (bass)

1943-2017

Home town: Hopewell, Virgina

First record ever bought: “Never bought a record. My mom, sisters, and brothers used to buy records. Lloyd Price, Jerry Butler, Brook Benton.”

First show ever seen: “The Temptations. Always. Lawson and I would sit there in the Apollo, and hear that ‘My Girl’ riff, and we’d say, ‘here they come!'”

First time basso became profundo: “When I was in high school, I had a real high voice. I use to sing alto! And I said, ‘Lord, please help me! And it just dropped on me one day.”

Joseph Sweet Joe Russell, The PersuasionsJoseph Jesse “Sweet Joe” Russell (tenor)

1940-2012

Home town: Henderson, North Carolina

First record ever bought:”My sister, I remember, had bought this record, (singing) ‘Forever, my darling. . .'(“Pledging My Love,” by Johnny Ace). I took it to school and this big girl named Johnnie Mae took it from me! I had to hide from my sister! My sister bought rock and roll records, and my mom bought the Five Blind Boys, Dixie Hummingbirds, and so on.”

First show ever seen: “I’ve sort of always been a gospel man. I would say The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Soul Stirrers with Sam Cooke, Five Blind Boys of Alabama, Five Blind Boys of Mississippi—those groups.”

Herbert Rhoad, The PersuasionsHerbert “Toubo” Rhoad (our beloved late baritone)

1944-1988

Home town: Bamberg, South Carolina

Toubo and Joe Russell started as part of a group called The Parisians, but, as Toubo once said, “these groups weren’t doing anything worthwhile with the talent they had. They didn’t want to get anywhere.” Soon he and Joe hooked up with Jimmy, Jerry, and Jay Otis, and as The Persuasions, they went somewhere.

Toubo’s rendition of Ray Charles’ “You Don’t Know Me” was never recorded, but after his passing in 1988, The Persuasions recorded an album in his memory, “Toubo’s Song.” Jerry sang lead on Toubo’s signature Persuasions number, including a spoken word passage about how his spirit remained with the group. For many shows, the group performed with Toubo’s empty mic.

Jay Otis Washington, The PersuasionsJay Otis Washington (baritone, tenor)

Home town: Detroit

First record ever bought: “I was too young to buy records, and anyway, we didn’t have any money! One of the first records that had an influence on me was ‘One Mint Julep,’ by The Clovers. That piano in the beginning! One of the groups, outside of The Heartbeats, that influenced me was— well, there was this one group I used to listen to practice sitting on the stoop on Sundays. I didn’t know who they were. And then one day this limousine pulls up and across the side it says ‘Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters!’ In my house, it was Bullmoose Jackson, Sugar Child Robinson, Louis Jordan.”

First show ever seen: “James Shepherd and The Heartbeats! That was grind-’em-up music. Good soul music.”

Jerry Lawson, The Persuasions

Jerry Lawson (tenor, baritone, lead singer emeritus, arranger & producer)

Lead singer, tenor, baritone and sole arranger. As Jerry says, “not every song can be ‘persuasionized’.” Being the group’s vocal arranger Jerry chose 99% of all recorded material. Thanks to his eclectic musical taste his catalog includes music from The Partridge Family to Zappa. He also co-produced 22 of their 23 albums. And as with many groups who have been together for several decades, internal conflicts soon began to take their toll. Jerry went his own way in 2003, effectively ending The Persuasions’ signature sound and character.  You can learn more about Jerry’s projects since his departure at his website. And here is a teaser from the documentary that is currently in production about Jerry’s legacy, The Jerry Lawson Story.

Home town: Apopka, Florida

First record ever bought: “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy,” by Lloyd Price.

First show ever seen: “When I moved to New York in 1961 and met Jimmy Hayes, he took me to the Apollo Theater. I was wiped out! To know that I could pay two dollars and see Sam Cooke! That was my first show. I was there every day after that, man. I saw James Brown, The Drifters, The Temptations, all of the groups I heard on the radio in Florida. I was really wiped out.”

Jimmy Hayes, The Persuasions

Jimmy Hayes (bass)

1943-2017

Home town: Hopewell, Virgina

First record ever bought: “Never bought a record. My mom, sisters, and brothers used to buy records. Lloyd Price, Jerry Butler, Brook Benton.”

First show ever seen: “The Temptations. Always. Lawson and I would sit there in the Apollo, and hear that ‘My Girl’ riff, and we’d say, ‘here they come!'”

First time basso became profundo: “When I was in high school, I had a real high voice. I use to sing alto! And I said, ‘Lord, please help me! And it just dropped on me one day.”

Joseph Sweet Joe Russell, The Persuasions

Joseph Jesse “Sweet Joe” Russell (tenor)

1940-2012

Home town: Henderson, North Carolina

First record ever bought:”My sister, I remember, had bought this record, (singing) ‘Forever, my darling. . .'(“Pledging My Love,” by Johnny Ace). I took it to school and this big girl named Johnnie Mae took it from me! I had to hide from my sister! My sister bought rock and roll records, and my mom bought the Five Blind Boys, Dixie Hummingbirds, and so on.”

First show ever seen: “I’ve sort of always been a gospel man. I would say The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Soul Stirrers with Sam Cooke, Five Blind Boys of Alabama, Five Blind Boys of Mississippi—those groups.”

Herbert Rhoad, The Persuasions

Herbert “Toubo” Rhoad (our beloved late baritone)

1944-1988

Home town: Bamberg, South Carolina

Toubo and Joe Russell started as part of a group called The Parisians, but, as Toubo once said, “these groups weren’t doing anything worthwhile with the talent they had. They didn’t want to get anywhere.” Soon he and Joe hooked up with Jimmy, Jerry, and Jay Otis, and as The Persuasions, they went somewhere.

Toubo’s rendition of Ray Charles’ “You Don’t Know Me” was never recorded, but after his passing in 1988, The Persuasions recorded an album in his memory, “Toubo’s Song.” Jerry sang lead on Toubo’s signature Persuasions number, including a spoken word passage about how his spirit remained with the group. For many shows, the group performed with Toubo’s empty mic.

Jay Otis Washington, The Persuasions

Jay Otis Washington (baritone, tenor)

Home town: Detroit

First record ever bought: “I was too young to buy records, and anyway, we didn’t have any money! One of the first records that had an influence on me was ‘One Mint Julep,’ by The Clovers. That piano in the beginning! One of the groups, outside of The Heartbeats, that influenced me was— well, there was this one group I used to listen to practice sitting on the stoop on Sundays. I didn’t know who they were. And then one day this limousine pulls up and across the side it says ‘Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters!’ In my house, it was Bullmoose Jackson, Sugar Child Robinson, Louis Jordan.”

First show ever seen: “James Shepherd and The Heartbeats! That was grind-’em-up music. Good soul music.”

2017-2018
Comcast Winter Olympics TV Commercial

Featuring The Persuasions Singing “People Get Ready” From Their “Street Corner Symphony” Album

Buy Song
the persuasions

Join Our Newsletter!