The Smell of Winter in NYC

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When I got to the Music Under New York spot at the 59th street and Lexington subway station, there were 3 guys singing there, accompanied by a 4th guy on keyboard. They are “N” Tune – an R&B group which sings songs from the 50’s through the 80’s. Really nice, older guys, who sing beautiful harmony. They take turns being the soloist – every song they rotate the soloist, while the others provide back-up voices.
One of them told me he got to the spot at 10AM, after waiting a whole hour at another station they usually sing at… the others were supposed to stick their heads out of the train to let him know where they are playing today, but they didn’t…
Another one of them told me that he is a bit stuffy-nosed today (he was blowing his nose) – he still sounded good when he sang though.

As I was waiting for them to be done performing, Martina Bruno, a.k.a the “subway angel” came to say ‘hi’. She sings opera, dressed as an angel (with wings). She told me that she freelances mostly (though she is a MUNY member) because she likes to perform in the early mornings at 77th street and in the corridor at 42nd street (not MUNy spots). She said the fact that she sings acapella is difficult and she is glad that she now got a sound system.


The 4 singers of “N” Tune went on to perform at 51street. One of them sings with ‘The Persuasions’ (and was a founding member of the group). The Persuasions started as five boys singing a capella on street corners, schoolyards and in subway stations of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in 1962. Over the years, The Persuasions have opened for Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, Ray Charles, Bill Cosby, and Richard Pryor to name but a few. Interestingly, it should be noted that acts such as Roseanne Barr and Bruce Springsteen once opened for The Persuasions. Anyway, he told me that he travels a lot performing with the group, which is why he is twice divorced…

The Persuasions

Today was the first cold day of the year – high temp 49 degrees. The smell of baked pretzels filtered in from the street above – that is the smell of winter in New York City.

Pretzel vendor


One Response to The Smell of Winter in NYC

  1. Julie Lawson on November 11, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    My husband was the lead singer, arranger & producer of The Persuasions for 40 years. He left them 4 years ago..

    I wish the remaining members nothing but blessings but I think it is very sad that any of them have resorted to singing in the subway. The subway entertainers are usually folks trying to get discovered or trying to pick up some extra money. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I think it’s a wonderful way to share one’s gifts with a very wide audience. But can you imagine Ray Charles or any other international recording artist ending up in the subway? Wouldn’t you be a bit shocked & saddened?

    My husband worked very very hard to build the reputation of The Persuasions & keep them working long after he knew their voices were not up to the task. It is sad to me that they would even tell anyone in the subway that they were a member of The world’s most renown a cappella group. But you see, that is ego… the need for recognition and one of the many reasons that their lead singer had to leave.. Too many egos in need of accolades while the most talented of them all was humble beyond imagination.

    If anyone reading your blog wants to hear what their lead singer really hoped to achieve with The Persuasions they can visit: and after exploring there they can click on the “More Info” tab.

    Jerry was through with a cappella & on his way to Russia to record with the Moscow Philharmonic when God revealed other plans for Jerry & provided him with 4 brilliant talents who actually love one another & have nothing but the utmost respect & appreciation & gratitude for having Jerry Lawson as their lead singer.

    Jerry Lawson & Talk of The Town have a brand new CD out & it turned out to be the masterpiece of Jerry’s career (of all 23 albums with The Persuasions) Jerry has at long last accomplished the harmony he long dreamed of.

    You can also see the group performing with Rod Stewart on the Katrina Benefit, as well as on Nickelodeon’s Noggin Network on a children’s show. It’s pretty darn cute.

    As for the remaining members of The Persuasions, I hope one day they will evolve enough to share with folks how blessed they were to have had Jerry Lawson as their leader – rather than being submerged in jealousy.

    My mother in law use to say that when the devil comes into your home you either have to get him out or you have to leave..Jerry Lawson left & was rewarded with blessings he couldn’t have imagined.

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