Boyz II Men on solid ground
By Tricia Despres December 20, 2012 10:40AM
Boyz II Men headline the Venue at Horseshoe Hammond on Dec. 27, 2012.
BOYZ II MEN
♦ 8 p.m., December 27
♦ The Venue at Horseshoe Hammond Casino, 777 Casino Center Drive, Hammond, Ind.
♦ Tickets, $65-$75
♦ (219) 473-6060;
Shawn Stockman turned 40 years old in September. Behind him lay an illustrious career filled with awards and acclaim as a member of the infamous R&B group Boyz II Men. In front of him — the challenges of fatherhood to three children, one of whom is battling autism.
And while the crossroads of middle age can leave some with more questions than answers, Stockman says he has seldom questioned the future of Boyz II Men.
Currently in the midst of a world tour to mark the group’s 20th anniversary and the release of their landmark album “Twenty,” the harmonies of Stockman, Nathan Morris and Wanya Morris remain, well, ageless.
“We certainly feel our youngest when we’re performing and just doing what we love, which is making music,” Stockman said via email as he was heading home to Los Angeles after a whirlwind overseas tour. “We were always taught that if you work hard and do your best, then you’ll always have a place in this business, and we’ve found that to be true. We just stick to what we know and love. It is the key to our 20 year success.”
It was the late 1980s when a group of boys from the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts snuck backstage at a New Edition concert and captured the attention of a handful of music executives who ultimately captured the harmonies of Boyz II Men in iconic hits such as “End of the Road,” “One Sweet Day” and “I’ll Make Love to You.”
“It was great to be a part of that in the ’90s, when R&B took off in mainstream music,” said Stockman, a self-proclaimed fan of everyone from Metallica to the Deftones. “We didn’t invent the genre, but we had the right sound and the right vibe at the right time. We’ve always stayed true to our roots and we’ve always worked hard at what we did.”
Armed now with a sophisticated look and a lineup of songs ranging from tearjerkers to down-and-dirty jams, the Men continue to influence the world of music and transform the lives of their fans.
“Sharing our music with the fans is a great way to ring in the New Year,” said Stockman, (they headline The Venue on Dec. 27). “We are constantly amazed and gratified by the love our fans continue to show us. That never gets old and is never something we just ‘expect’. We still work hard to make our fans happy. And we absolutely love Chicago. We’ve played there a lot over the years, so we’re really looking forward to this show.”
The group is everywhere these days, including an Old Navy commercial that has become a viral sensation, pitting them alongside New Kids on the Block alum Jordan Knight. And with 2013 around the corner, Stockman said the group most certainly has set their sights on a new list of goals and collaborations.
“As a collective, we would all like to work with Prince,” said Stockman. “He’s a legend, and I would love to see what a collaboration with him would sound like! Of course, it’s always cool when we hear the young, talented artists of today, like Justin Bieber or Justin Timberlake cite as us influences, too.”
So, the goal is to just try to stay relevant in today’s complex music industry?
“We don’t do things like that to stay relevant,” he said. “We just try to stay true to our roots and we give the fans what they want — but with a modern twist.”
Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.