Boyz II Men

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  • Tuesday, 17 March 2015 20:35
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Boyz II Men

Singing Sensation Shawn Stockman Talks About the Best-Selling R&B Group of All Time

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Boyz II Men are the most commercially successful R&B group of all time and were involved in three of the longest-running number one pop singles in history. The four-time Grammy-winning American R&B vocal group is celebrating their 22-year career with their newest album Collide and an extended residency in Las Vegas. Their 1992 single End of the Road broke Elvis Presley’s record for the total number of weeks at number one by staying at Billboard Hot 100’s top spot for 13 weeks. Then they went on to break their own record with “I’ll Make Love to You” and “One Sweet Day” with Mariah Carey, each setting new records for the total number of weeks at number one with 14 and 16 weeks respectively. They also became the third artists in history to replace themselves at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 when “On Bended Knee” succeeded “I’ll Make Love to You” at the number one spot–only The Beatles and Elvis had previously accomplished this feat.

Best known for emotional ballads and a cappella harmonies, the group that started as a quartet featuring Michael McCarey are now a trio consisting of baritone Nathan Morris and tenors Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman. The group, who has enjoyed a special relationship with Japan including Japan-only album releases and an album of English versions of Japanese pop covers, recently returned to Tokyo in September 2014. Tokyo Journal caught up with Boyz II Men’s superstar Shawn Stockman, who outside of the group has released successful solo singles, served as a judge on NBC television’s a cappella singing competition The Sing-Off and has worked to help raise awareness about autism, which affects one of his twin sons. Shawn talked about the secrets to their success and their appreciation for Japan.

TJ: Can you tell us how Boyz II Men got started?
We met each other at our performing arts high school in Philadelphia. We started singing initially to impress girls! But music is truly our first love and we became more serious when we saw the kind of reaction we were getting when we performed.

TJ: What’s the secret to Boyz II Men’s ongoing success?
It really comes down to a core philosophy as artists, we are committed to making timeless music, we are willing to work hard, and everything we do is for the fans. That’s how we’ve always approached our careers and I think the industry, and the fans have responded to that. We don’t take success for granted, and I think that has absolutely contributed to our success.

TJ: What has kept you guys together all these years?
We have been performing together and creating music together for 22 years and we’ve developed an amazing chemistry. Each one of us brings something different to the table, we all want each other to shine, and we know that working together the sum can be greater than the parts. At the end of the day, that’s why you perform in a group, because you elevate each other and the result is going to be bigger and more nuanced because you’ve combined your talents and your unique gifts.

TJ: What do you like the most about being in Boyz II Men?
The best part about being in the group is the brotherly bond that we have created. We get to travel and work with our brothers every day!

TJ: How many times have you been to Japan?
We love Japan. We’ve been to Japan many times over the years.

TJ: Where have you been to in Japan?
We’ve toured all around the country. It’s very beautiful.

TJ: Do you like Japanese food?
We love Japanese food because none of us eat red meat and we love fish.

TJ: What else do you like about Japan?
We love the culture!

TJ: Have you noticed any differences between fans in Japan and fans in other countries?
We are constantly amazed and gratified by the love our fans in Japan continue to show us. That never gets old and is never something we just expect. We still work hard to make our fans happy.

TJ: Why did you release your 2007 album Remedy exclusively in Japan and your 2011 album Twenty two weeks before its U.S. release?
Our Japanese fans have always been so supportive of us and so good to us and we know our material is always well received in Japan.

TJ: What other countries have you performed in?
We have just been to Europe and got to play in the U.K., France, the Netherlands and Germany, but we regularly perform all over the world and we’ve been to almost every country over the past two decades.

TJ: What is the most difficult part about being on tour?
While we love being on tour and getting to experience so many different countries, it is hard to leave our families, especially our kids, for a long period of time.

TJ: Which do you enjoy more: singing a cappella or with a band?
We love to sing a cappella because that is how we started out. Singing a cappella allows us to improvise and change up our parts, so we have a lot of fun with it. But we also love performing with a band for a bigger sound.

TJ: Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
We had the great privilege of performing with Billy Joel in our hometown over the summer, and it was truly one of the highlights of our career. He’s one of the most talented musicians of our time. We would love to work with Prince as well because we love his sound.

TJ: Who are your non-musical heroes?
Our kids! We grow prouder of them every day!

TJ: What have been your proudest achievements?
It has truly been an incredible journey. One that really sticks out is still being the best-selling R&B group of all time. That title means so much to us because we had so many highs and lows, but we still have our fan base that go out and buy our music.

TJ: Can you tell us about your newest album?
Collide highlights a broader side of our creativity, going further into doing what feels right for us at this moment in our lives and the product of that is an album with the type of sound that works in any era: big drums, dramatic, lush piano, it’s expansive and it grooves. Collide is a landmark album for us not only because it contains some new stylistic elements but also because it is a reflection of exactly who we are now–20-plus year veterans still taking risks and feeling good about life! Life truly is good at this moment in time.

TJ: Where will your tour go to for this album?
We have been playing at a lot of great venues in the U.S. but we are also touring around Europe. We recently played at the Arizona Jazz Festival along with some other extremely talented musicians and we went to Detroit before heading off to Europe where we will perform everywhere from London to the Netherlands to Bulgaria to Germany and Denmark!

TJ: Can you tell us about your charity “Boyz II Men House?”
Well, as a group we created the Boyz II Men House, which lends support to individuals and organizations that focus on improving quality of life and contributing to the health and vitality of those less fortunate:

TJ: Can you tell us any about other projects you’re working on?
Well, we just released our album Collide in October 2014, which is available now on iTunes and wherever music is sold. And we also have a residency at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, which was just extended through 2015. All Vegas dates and tour dates are on our website And beyond that we will continue touring and making music, so fans will definitely keep seeing more of Boyz II Men.

TJ: What goals do you have for the future?
It’s been an incredible year and an incredible journey so far. Between releasing our new album Collide, our residency at the Mirage in Las Vegas, and winning the Casino Entertainment Award for Musical Artist of the Year, it’s been huge for us. We’re just going to keep giving our all to fans, onstage, in the media, and in the studio.

TJ: What advice would you give to aspiring singers or musicians?
Over the last 22 years, we’ve really learned that the secret to a long lasting career is committing to making quality music. It’s such a simple philosophy but the fans really respond to that, and it’s amazing how multi-generational our music has become. Making quality music has always been our focus and it’s amazing to see how much our fans continue to support and grow with us 20-plus years later. tj

The original article can be found in Issue #276 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.


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