New York's the Persuasions are a highly respected a cappella vocal ensemble and longtime torchbearers of the doo wop tradition. Formed in the early '60s in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, the Persuasions initially recorded several sides for Minit Records in 1965. However, it was 1970's A Cappella, a part-live/part-studio album released on Frank Zappa's Straight label, that helped launch their career. They followed up with several more well-received efforts, including 1971's Street Corner Symphony and 1977's Chirpin'. Along with their own albums, they have appeared with many other performers and supplied harmonies for artists such as Liza Minnelli, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and Joni Mitchell.
While their chart successes have been minimal, they continue to carry forward the tradition without appearing ossified. Their music has been a consistently enjoyable sidebar, and never one that has simply reeked of revivalism, remaining fresh through releases like 1993's Toubo's Song, 1994's Right Around the Corner, and 1996's Sincerely. Released in 1999, On the Good Ship Lollipop was a foray into children's music, while a year later the group issued Frankly A Cappella: The Persuasions Sing Zappa and Might as Well...The Persuasions Sing Grateful Dead.
Several more tribute albums followed, including 2002's Persuasions Sing the Beatles, 2005's Persuasions Sing U2, and 2010's Bob Dylan-themed Knockin' on Bob's Door. Throughout this period, the group continued to tour and appear live. In 2016, they were briefly joined on-stage by Canadian pop outfit Barenaked Ladies. Invigorated by their shared chemistry, BNL then invited the group to collaborate on a new studio album. The resulting effort, 2017's Gavin Brown-produced Ladies and Gentlemen: Barenaked Ladies & the Persuasions, showcased reworked songs from BNL's past catalog along with a cover of the Persuasions' 1972 hit "Good Times." ~ Colin Escott