The visit by the acappella vocal group The Persuasions was a seminal event, the effect of the visit far outweighing the 3 days they were with us. In many ways the poster says it all.
The Persuasions' visit began with a getting-to-meet people party at Huskission St (the staff house) and was followed on the Monday and Tuesday by three voice workshops and an evening concert with disco.
The Voice Workshops
There were 5 separate voice workshops during each session, each led by a member of the Persuasions - Jerry Lawson (lead singer), Jimmy Hayes (bass) , Herbert Rhoad (baritone), Joseph Russell (second tenor) and Jayotis Washington (first tenor).
The Monday started badly - even though each workshop was fully booked and people were really keen to work with The Persuasions. At 2pm - the start time - no-one had turned up.
When people finally arrived they rapidly learnt that this was unacceptable behaviour. The Persuasions are from The Bronx and were certainly not about to be messed around by a bunch of young Liverpudlians.
The Persuasions left to right - Herbert Rhoad (Tubo), Jimmy Hayes, Jerry Lawson, Jayotis Washington, and Jo Russell.
Then, to the surprise/horror of the participants, they found that they were not going to be singing along with their heroes but rather would be spending a painful couple of hours practicing scales and learning how to put their voices together with others.
After this start the rest of the workshops went swimmingly with people being ready to start as soon as the Persuasions got there.
The number of people in each group depended on their specific needs and voice range, so for all 3 sessions Tubo worked with The Superstars ( 4 voices) and in the last session, was joined by 3 people who needed specific and individual tution. Jerry worked an existing group 'Natural High' consisting of the Christian Brothers (Vic, Roger and Gary). Most groups remained fairly stable and overall 48 people took part in the workshops.
At the end of the 3 sessions the groups performed for each other.
Sadly we do not have photographs of the Voice Workshops but we do have a video which we hope at some stage to upload to the site.
The Persuasions then moved on to practicing for their evening concert which took place in the auditorium.
The concert was a great success. It was followed by a Soul Disco, and people stayed around dancing to the music of Radio Doom. Overall 400 people attended. We do have a short film of The Persuasions which we hope to be able to upload to the site.
So why did such a short visit have such an impact? At this time the music at the Blackie was basically American soul. We ran with Radio Doom a weekly Soul Disco which attracted the Black youth of Liverpool 8. There were already a number of groups who looked towards America, and particularly Motown, for their inspiration.
The young people had started to form their own groups, basically based on dancing to recorded music. They were extremely confident as dancers but did not have the same confidence when it came to singing. So The Persuasions arrived at a place which was ready to welcome and learn from them.
The Persuasions brought with them a passion for singing - they literally would and did sing anywhere and at any time; which made shopping with them a unique experience. They believed that if you could speak you could sing.
They were also consummate professionals - they expected people to do their best and behave professionally. And they were of course successful African Americans. Over the three sessions they gave the young people who worked with both the confidence and the permission to succeed. It was a lesson which has stood many in good stead ever since.
The visit was Co-ordinated by Wendy Harpe, Bill Harpe, Stevie Smith, with Steph Dodds.and Judy Bates.
Discotheques: Radio Doom - Dave Kay, Noddy, Les Dean: Doctor Disco - Ramon Serrano.
Technical Co-ordination : Martin Brems
Sound : Noddy, Les Dean
Lighting : Stephen Knox, Eddie Tagoe, Richard Morgan
Lightshow : Dave Rickus
T.V.Recording : Ramon Serrano (sound) Eddie Tagoe (vision mixing) Sheila Bradford, Terry Ryan and Phil Tagoe (cameras).
Environment : Tony Agate, Paul Ambrosius, Mo Bates, Mary Copple, Peter Eyo, Bill Harpe, Wendy Harpe, Stephen Knox, Sally Lawson, Terry Ryan, Stevie Smith, Eddie Tagoe, Phil Tagoe, and Jay-Jay Williams, assisted by Pat Archer, Gerald Aryeety. Joey Barber, Jake Barney, Katherine Bolger, Chris Browne, Cathy Cocker, Donna Doforo, Brian Gibson, Wayne Hughes, Carl Murray, Stephen Powell, Tony Rodrey, Val Santos, Joseph spears, Garry Tagoe, Pauline Williams, and Sammy Williams.
This was a people intensive show - in addition to the full-time staff overall 25 people helped with the production (ranging from creating the environment to providing music and a lightshow before the performance).
Equipment and properties kindly loaned by:- Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King; Adelphi Hotel; The Shiffrin Centre; L.F.Briggs Ltd (haulage contractors); the Anglican Cathedral. Plus the time given by two people who took a week off work,. and the 2 of the kids who had two weeks off school.