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December 30, 2008

Brooklyn a cappella group stays in harmony

The Patriot Ledger (MA):

More than 45 years into their careers, The Persuasions have no intentions of slowing down, with two album projects under way and the usual busy slate of touring. When we last talked with Persuasions bass singer Jimmy Hayes two and half years ago, the quintet was still dealing with the 2004 departure of original lead singer Jerry Lawson. Today’s version of the group includes talented baritone Reggie Moore and tenor Ray Sanders, along with original members Hayes, tenor Jayotis Washington and baritone Joe Russell.

The group had worked as a foursome after Lawson left for a solo career, and also began sharing the lead vocals. With all the original singers now in their 60s, The Persuasions had developed a good “bench'' as Hayes put it, and tried several of their regular subs before settling on Moore.

“Reggie is pretty well set with us now, after starting in about 2004,'' Hayes said from his Brooklyn home. “It is true that he literally came out of a crowd at a Washington show when we invited people to sing with us onstage. He was very good, so I took his number. But later on, we also advertised in the Village Voice too, looking for someone able to sing lead and background harmonies. We ended up auditioning quite a few singers, but Reggie has something special that convinced us to give him a try.''

“We still have to tune him in a bit,'' Hayes laughed of his 40-something cohort. “He’s so much younger than us he has lots of energy, and wants to do all kinds of things onstage we did when we were younger. So, we have to settle him down now and then.'' Sanders joined the band after original baritone Herbert “Tuobo'' Rhoad died in 1988. One change that the newer members have prompted is in lead singing; while Lawson took most of the leads before, now everyone takes a turn.

“We don’t see ourselves getting into one guy doing all the leads again,'' Hayes explained. “Jerry Lawson basically did all the leads, and maybe Joe and I would do a very few. Now, we’ve found a better way to do it and, from the audience response, people like having us change it up.'' Read more.

Posted by acapnews at December 30, 2008 12:00 AM

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