Jimmy Hayes, vocals
Dave Revels, vocals
Ray Sanders, vocals
Jayotis Washington, vocals
Together since they started singing on the stoops of Brooklyn in 1961, The Persuasions have released over 18 albums and have recorded or performed with a wide range of artists, including Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, Lou Reed, Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, The Neville Brothers, Country Joe McDonald, and B.B. King. Their music has also turned up in films from Joe and the Volcano to E.T., and they have been the subject of a documentary titled Spread the Word: The Persuasions Sing a Cappella.
The Persuasions have consistently garnered critical acclaim over the course of their career, which spans over a half decade. Rolling Stone rated their 1977 album Chirpin’ one of the hundred best works of the 1970s. Rock critic and author Greil Marcus has called their style a “perfect marriage of passion and intelligence.” Mix Magazine wrote, “The Persuasions are four parts of one voice, one spirit,” and Cash Box joined in, saying, “These all-vocal, instrument-free heroes paved the way for today’s platinum a cappella acts, Take 6 and Bobby McFerrin, as well as the retro hip-hop styles of Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd.” In the midst of all this praise, Tom Waits sums it up best: “These guys are deep sea divers. I’m just a fisherman in a boat.”
The members of The Persuasions all came from church and secular musical backgrounds, and from the start, their repertoire was a mix of gospel, soul, and pop. They soon graduated from parties to doo-wop shows (although doo-wop makes up only a small part of their repertoire), and in the mid-'60s they worked with Robert F. Kennedy in various projects to aid African-Americans in the inner cities. In 1968, The Persuasions were discovered by Frank Zappa, of all people. So striking and formidable was their vocal prowess that Zappa signed them to his Straight label (Warner Brothers) merely on the strength of hearing them perform over the phone after a friend called from a New York nightclub, declaring, “Frank, you’ve got to hear this.”
From Dylan’s “The Man in Me” to Zappa’s withering commentary “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing,” The Persuasions imbue songs with a conviction, heart, and humor that perhaps even the authors didn’t intend. Even after 50 years, they show no signs of retiring any time soon as they continue to undertake new and exciting musical projects. They love working with kids and frequently put on workshops for young singers. In addition, they took on the music of J.J. Cale during the summer of '09, featuring the powerhouse baritone-tenor of "Sweet" Joe Russell on "I'll Make Love To You," and basso profundo Jimmy Hayes on "Travelin' Light." Their latest album, Knocking on Bob's Door, came out in 2010.
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New York, NY 10012