Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 | 10:33 a.m.
In a coarse, often-cynical world, Boyz II Men still believe in their hearts that there is room for the gentle romance of which they sing. In a day and age when old-fashioned etiquette has been replaced with brusque, oftentimes rude manners, Boyz II Men still believe that there is a place for their softer, silkier musical approach to life.
In a rap world of four-letter obscenities sung in low-slung pants, Boyz II Men are proud to wear smart suits to deliver their trademark smooth harmonies and vocal styling of timeless themes.
The four-time Grammy Award-winning R&B group starts a residency at The Mirage on March 1 and continues through Dec. 29 on weekend dates in Terry Fator Theater. The Motownphilly trio has sold more than 60 million albums since forming in 1990 and is still the best-selling R&B group of all time.
Their new contract on the Strip has been a dream since an extended holiday show here two years ago. Baritone Nathan Morris, who sings alongside tenors Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman, said: “We’ve been dreaming of this day, and we thank everyone who has made this dream a reality for us. We can’t wait to take the stage in March and become a part of the Las Vegas community. We’re thrilled to start the New Year with this.”
I talked at length with Shawn after the signing. He told me in our one-on-one interview: “We are very excited. This has been a really, really good day. Something that we worked really, really hard to lead up to, and we are just so thankful. We thank God for the opportunity. The Mirage is a beautiful establishment, and what is funny is, I had never, ever been into the hotel until now, and now we’re going to have a residency.
“It has been twirling around in our heads for years. We had a shot at it about two years ago, first at the Flamingo and then MGM -- this was in talks for a while. We’ve come to a great agreement where everybody is happy -- it’s a natural progression for us to have a residency in one of the most famous entertainment cities on Planet Earth. We are so fortunate to now have a home, where people and our global fans come from worldwide to see us perform in one place in a way that they have never seen us before. It is a win-win for everybody, especially for fans and supporters who’ve been with us all these years.”
Shawn says although they will have a new show with bells and whistles, they are going to stick with their tried and true approach to quality. “We are definitely going to keep the good old-fashioned approach of singing our hearts out on the stage,” he said. “It’s what we do, a cornerstone that we are known for, and you are definitely going to see that. With a residency, we are able to add some bells and whistles, production things that we are not normally used to having, customizing the show and making it entertaining. We are telling the story about us and showing a more in-depth look and the type of music that made us.
“Soulful R&B is part of who we are. We grew up listening to soul and R&B music, growing up in Philadelphia, which has a rich history in music with the Philly sound. Our parents played Motown, Otis Redding, but at the same time in school, we had Bach and Beethoven and all these great composers. The blend is what makes Boyz II Men, and we are going to incorporate all of those things.
“We are absolutely great believers in love and romance. Especially now, considering how we look around and see from television, radio, magazines, that the world has become so coarse and cynical. Romance is more important now than ever.
“It doesn’t make a man less of a man to want to hold his woman’s hand while walking down the street, to send her flowers, to do nice things for your woman. Chivalry still exists, and it is all just a matter of resurging it again, giving it a battery charge, and just allowing it to be something in the forefront. You don’t have to take away pride or ego to be romantic -- just a certain sense of humility.
“To be romantic is to give, and if people key in more on wanting to give to their loved ones, it will be reciprocated. It’s what we are all about, what we have always been about, and that is what we will be about until we are dead.”
I asked Shawn if there was a message for young people today that parts of society have broken down because of a lack of manners. “It is part of social development to be courteous, to be kind to a person, to be cordial, congenial, to show respect, to show love,” he told me.
“All those things are very practical and very key to relations of all sorts, and not just intimate relations, but friendships and business relationships. You can’t get things done being rude and obnoxious; a few might creep through, but it doesn’t last. Success in life comes from being able to learn how to respect one’s space in this planet because we are all living here together, and learning and respecting each others cultures, respecting each other’s right to be on this Earth.
“People need to learn that. Young people don’t realize they are not going to be young forever, and the things that you do and the things that you take for granted now will only leave you later. So it is good to practice those things while you are young, so as you get older, you are able to preserve those youthful things. It is amazing just how being nice, being courteous, being kind to somebody, how many years it can add on to your life.”
Boyz II Men will perform such hits as “End of the Road,” “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” “Motownphilly” and “I’ll Make Love to You.” They’ll play 78 shows over selected weekends throughout the year when Terry is away. “We met Terry, who is a sweet guy, and the energy and the atmosphere in his theater is just so classy,” Shawn added.
“There is not a bad seat in his house. People are going to walk in to see us and be impressed. We might go onstage one night with his dolls. They might make an appearance -- just give them a mic and let them do their thing! … This is all an exciting step in our career. We are so happy about this, we have to say the New Year has really started right.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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