After 40 years and 20 plus albums Jerry Lawson, original lead singer, arranger and producer of the legendary a cappella group The Persuasions has moved on. The man who led the celebrated quintet – and recorded and toured with numerous artists such as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli, Joni Mitchell and Frank Zappa – is heading in many new directions. “I left the Persuasions in order to perform and record the tunes I love with instruments. I’m singing Jazz Standards, traditional Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Country and many beautiful songs that deserve nothing less than a full orchestra.”
Anyone who has been privileged to experience The Persuasions knows that their signature sound was defined by Lawson’s sweet and smoky baritone. As music writer Rip Rense put it: “By any fair measure Lawson is really one of the best singers of the last fifty years—up there with Sam Cooke, David Ruffin, Brook Benton, Jerry Butler, Roy Hamilton & Nat King Cole.” In 2003 after decades of preserving the dying art and recording twenty five a cappella albums Jerry left the group ending their 40 year run. He thought he was through with a cappella. Big Bands and orchestras beckoned. He began preparing to record an album of standards with The Moscow Philharmonic when fate revealed other plans. Along came a San Francisco based a cappella group who honed their skills from years of studying, you guessed it, Jerry’s vocal arrangements with The Persuasions. When they sang their version of The Mills Brothers’ Paper Doll for him that was it, he was sold and Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town were born. You can see them here being featured on NBC TV. But of all of Jerry’s performances with Talk of the Town this was particularly special to him. Another highlight was when Rod Stewart asked Jerry to sing the lead with him on Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready on the internationally televised fundraiser for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
Then in 2014 Jerry was approached by longtime admirer Eric Brace, himself a musician, songwriter and owner of East Nashville’s Red Beet Records. Eric asked Jerry if he’d record a couple of tunes on his new project and of course Jerry was happy to participate. But when they got into the studio Eric was so taken by Jerry’s interpretations that he scratched the idea of it being an Eric Brace album and insisted on making it a Jerry Lawson album. Jerry’s debut as a solo artist with instruments finally became a reality. Upon it’s release in April 2015 Just a Mortal Man was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition with Joel Rose and The Wall Street Journal named Just a Mortal Man one of the ‘Six Retro Roots Albums to Jump-Start Your Summer, “Affecting throughout, it demands playing.”