Persuasions - The Catamount Years 1966-1971

 Catamount Recording Artist 

The Persuasions

Brooklyn, NY

An Acappella Street Corner Vocal Group

Catamount Records LP Cover Picture

This post is on the Persuasions early years with Catamount Records, Stan R. Krause and the Rev. Skip Jackson. The years would be 1966-1971. -  In 1971 Stan produced their first Capitol LP and soon there after departed company with the Persuasions.  Stan was the biggest promoter of live a cappella shows at the time. It was Krause who discovered the Persuasions, a vocal group from the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn; it was he who sold the rights to their first album, "A Cappella," to a zany doo-wop aficionado named Frank Zappa in 1970. Zappa didn't just rescue the Persuasions from obscurity, he also initiated the recording career of the greatest a cappella group ever.

Jay Otis - before The Persuasions

They began singing together in Brooklyn literally under corner streetlights and in subway corridors.  Their style combined gospel, soul, early rock and jazz into melodic five-part harmonies. The Persuasions were formed in Brooklyn as a group of five 20-something guys who sang on the street corner after work.  Jerry Lawson was a store detective, Jimmy Hayes was an elevator operator, Joe Russell was a butcher, Jayotis Washington was a plumber and Toubo Rhodes was a shoe salesman.  At first they tried to hire a band, but when the guitar player didn't show up to their first major performance, they decided to sing it a cappella and they never looked back again.  For a few years they sang in local clubs, ultimately getting a break to open for Dionne Warwick in a New York show.  Joe Russell was born in Henderson, North Carolina in 1939 and grew up with an undying love for the church. 
He moved to Brooklyn and studied to be a butcher, a job to which he returned during lean years. He fell in with the doo-wop groups who practiced on the street corners. He was the lead singer with the Parisians, who recorded a fast-paced revival of "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" in 1962. Around 1965, Russell and Herb "Toubo" Rhoad from the Parisians teamed up with Jerry Lawson and Jimmy Hayes of the Five B's and Jayotis Washington of the Interiors to form an a cappella group. They were taking a chance by getting audiences to like them without instruments and so Hayes named them the Persuasions.

From the Jay Otis Collection

Over the years, they made appearances on such public affairs television shows as Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant and Like It Is in 1968.  

In 1966,  I was in Stan's Square Record Shop, next to the State Theater.  We were talking about his show coming up at the State Theater.  He mentioned he had this new group from Brooklyn that were going to give the Royal Counts a run for the "Kings of Acappella" title.   That 1966 show is the flip side of the first Frank Zappa LP on the Straight label.  During those five years that followed the Persuasions worked with Skip Jackson as their music director and advisor.

Persuasion's Stardust album, blue vinyl on Catamount Records,
autographed by all five original members.

Persuasions - LP905 - Stardust
Brooklyn, NY
Jerry Lawson, Jay Otis Washington, Tubo Rhodes, Jesse Russell, Jimmy Hayes

Catamount Discography

A Stan R. Krause Production



Frank Zappa 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 album. 

The Persuasions were the opening act at The Mothers concerts at Carnegie Hall, 1971. 


1.1 Introduction
1.2 Searchin for Me Baby
1.3 I Just Can't Work No Longer
1.4 Ol' Man River
1.5 Monologue Introduction
1.6 Don't Look Back
1.7 Drip Drop
1.8 The Whole World Is a Stage
1.9 Up on the Roof
1.10 The Bounce
1.11 Since I Fell for You
1.12 Too Late
1.13 It's All Right


Stan then signed the Persuasions to a three LP deal with Capitol Records and released three outstanding albums in the early 70s.  Two of them, Street Corner Symphony and We Came To Play, are essential.

1971 Capitol LP


For info on the Persuasions from 1971 on....

Last Updated - 21 Oct 2021
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