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January 20, 2011

Jerry Lawson comes to town

Oakland Tribune:

Jerry Lawson thought he was done with a cappella groups.

He'd spent more than 30 years in the Persuasions, one of the most admired a cappella troupes of all time, and was ready for something different come 2003. So, he left the Brooklyn-born group, which had put together a string of hit albums during the first half of the '70s, and moved with his wife Julie to Scottsdale, Arizona, to focus on his solo career.

"We had our ups and downs, and ins and outs," Lawson says of his time in the Persuasions. "I was sort of washed up with the whole thing. I just wanted to be on my own, where I was the one to make my own decisions."

Lawson calls what happened next "divine intervention." He now believes it was God that set him on a path to join up with the longtime Bay Area a cappella group Talk of the Town. There were just too many signs screaming out that the two entities should combine forces for him to ignore.

"That's what happens when (God) opens the door," Lawson says during a recent phone interview from his Scottsdale home. "We don't close the door in his face. He has plans for me, and he wanted me to be associated with the a cappella world."

Lawson is no stranger to high-profile gigs. The Florida native -- who celebrates his 67th birthday on Sunday -- performed or recorded with such stars as Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell, Liza Minnelli and the Grateful Dead during his years with the Persuasions.

It's a pretty impressive resume for a guy who originally came to New York to try and play semi-pro football, not start a singing career. But his vocal work was even more impressive than his football moves, so he soon found himself singing on street corners with some new buddies he'd met in Brooklyn.

"We'd get a crowd around us. Boy, that harmony was lovely. People would sit around, and get popcorn and Crackerjacks, and just listen to us. Sometimes we would sing until 3 o'clock in the morning," remembers Lawson.

At the time, Lawson didn't even know there was a name for the style of instrument-less music the young Persuasions were performing. But then, "a woman looked out her window and said, 'If you don't know what you're singing, it's called a cappella.'" Read more.

Posted by acapnews at January 20, 2011 9:52 PM


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