A Note From the Director

Years ago in New York I heard a song on the radio that blew me away. At first I thought it was a great new R & B band – until the DJ said it was actually an a cappella group called The Persuasions. I couldn’t believe there hadn’t been any instruments in that song.

I immediately went out and bought the album, then another, and another. Soon I was attending many of . . . .



About Jerry Lawson

Jerry was born in Ft Lauderdale, Florida but raised in Apopka, Florida, a small town 12 miles North of Orlando. Upon graduating from high school in 1961 he headed North and landed in Brooklyn, N.Y. which is where he and the other four original Persuasions began their 40-year career together. After decades of carrying the a cappella torch largely alone, Lawson’s departure in 2003 ended The Persuasions’ 40-year run. But launching a solo career thinking he was “done with a cappella forever” didn’t quite work out.



Meet the Team

Miles Merritt: Director, Executive Producer began his career with TV Guide Magazine in Los Angeles, California. He subsequently began working as writer/producer with New Century Images. His short film El Cochero ( The Carriage Driver ) was an official selection in 15 film festivals internationally. “Just A Mortal Man – The Jerry Lawson Story” is Miles’ first documentary feature.

Gail Kempler: Co-Director and Producer, Licensing co-produced and edited the two award-winning short films El Cochero ( The Carriage Driver ) and Una Causa Noble (A Noble Cause). As an Intellectual Property Attorney, Gail also handled all copyright and licensing for M/K Production films. She has also edited a number of corporate and special occasion videos. “Just A Mortal Man – The Jerry Lawson Story” is her first documentary feature. Gail received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and law degree from Fordham University and works part-time as a patent attorney for a start-up biotech company.

Chris Szwedo: Editor. Chris Szwedo Productions has 30 years of experience in the videography, writing, and editing of corporate sales presentations, broadcast documentaries, promotional spots, and educational and non-profit institutional presentations.

Chris Szwedo has been the recipient of national and regional EMMY nominations for videography and direction, and a category winner of The Motor Press Guild Dean Batchelor Award for excellence in automotive journalism and communication. Signature works for Public Television distribution in the USA, and Canada include the award-winning Lime Rock Park: The Secret Valley of Racing, A Gullwing At Twilight: The Bonneville Ride of John Fitch, and Eye On The Sixties: The Iconic Photography of Rowland Scherman.

Hope Kelley: Co-Producer. Hope Kelley, Executive Producer, Director and Writer for Hope Kelley Productions and 16 South Films, produces TV programming, documentaries and feature films. Hope graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and began her career with ABC in Austin, and at the Dallas ABC News Bureau at the Capitol. For many years she has produced and hosted the TV program, “SA Style” in San Antonio, Texas. As a screenwriter, Hope currently has several projects in different stages of production.

“[Jerry], you have blazed the trail for this whole a cappella thing.”
Shawn Stockman from Boyz II Men – Singer/Songwriter – Record Producer

” I admire the undeniable depth in Jerry’s big voice. A true soul singer…”
Rod Stewart

“To be able to be a part of preserving a special art – A cappella – it means so much to me.”
–Jerry Lawson on A cappella

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