Jerry Butler (born Jerry Butler Jr., December 8, 1939, Sunflower, Mississippi) is an American soul singer and songwriter. He is also noted as being the original lead singer of the R&B vocal group, The Impressions, as well as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.
Butler is also an American politician. He serves as a Commissioner for Cook County, Illinois, having first been elected in 1985. As a member of this 17-member county board, he chairs the Health and Hospitals Committee, and serves as Vice Chair of the Construction Committee.
The mid 1950s had a profound impact on Butler’s life. He grew up poor, having lived in Chicago‘s Cabrini–Green housing complex. Music and the church provided solace from a city that was as segregated as those in the Deep South. He performed in a church choir with Curtis Mayfield. As a teenager, Butler sang in a gospel quartet called Northern Jubilee Gospel Singers, along with Mayfield. Mayfield, a guitar player, became the lone instrumentalist for the six-member Roosters group, which later became The Impressions. Inspired by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, and the Pilgrim Travelers, getting into the music industry seemed inevitable.