All Grown Up: Boyz II Men

  • Boyz II MenIn the 1990s, Boyz II Men were the hottest vocal group in the music industry. They made a splash on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from their debut, with their first two singles reaching the number two and number three spots. But when music moguls Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and L.A. Reid presented them with what would be their first number-one single, they were less than thrilled with what they heard.

    At the turn of the 1990s, Boyz II Men was one of those groups with broad appeal to cross over from the Black entertainment market to the mainstream, which was dominated by white artists.

    When did Boyz II Men form

    The group originally formed in 1985 and was named “Unique Attraction.” The group was started by friends Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson along with George Baldi, Jon Shoats, and Marguerite Walker. The boys all attended the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in Pennsylvania. Wayna Morris joined the group in 1987.

    In 1988, Baldi, Shoats, and Walker left the group after graduation and the remaining members recruited Shawn Stockman and Michael McCary. Conflicts caused Nelson to leave the group leaving the four members that reached international fame: Michael McCary, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman.

    How did Boyz II Men become famous?

    Unique Attraction was changed to Boyz II Men after a New Edition song entitled Boys to Men came out in 1988. They released their first album Cooleyhighharmony in 1991, which sold over nine million copies and won them a Grammy. Their single, “End Of The Road,” broke a record for most weeks at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1992. Michael McCary left the group in 2003 due to chronic back pain from multiple sclerosis and the group has been performing as a trio ever since. They have won a slew of awards including four Grammys, three Billboard Music Awards, and nine American Music Awards.

    Boyz II Men had already burst onto the scene in 1991 with their debut single “Motownphilly,” which ended up reaching the number three spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Their follow-up single, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” reached number two.

    Boyz II Men was signed to Motown Records after being discovered by New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe member Michael Bivins. When Reid was given the opportunity to do the soundtrack for Boomerang, a 1992 movie starring Eddie Murphy, Bivins was his first call. Reid told Bivins that he wanted Boyz II Men to sing the song “End of the Road” from the movie’s soundtrack, and he was thrilled to let the band members know.

    Bivins was excited to play the song for the members of Boyz II Men. But they weren’t happy with what they heard. “When it’s over, I’m like, ‘So, what do you think?’” Bivins recalled in a 2021 episode of the Netflix docuseries This is Pop. “And then they go, ‘It’s alright.’”

    Group members Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris, and Shawn Stockman reflected on their first impressions of the track. “Wan and I liked it,” Stockman said. “Nate, not so much. He thought it was just OK.” Stockman confirmed that it was Nathan Morris who gave Bivins the “Eh, it’s alright” reaction.

    Of course, they ended up recording the song, and it ended up becoming Boyz II Men’s first single to reach the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It remained at the top of the chart for a record-breaking 13 weeks.

    Boyz II Men would continue to break their own records on the Billboard charts throughout the ’90s. Their 1994 single “I’ll Make Love to You” spent 14 consecutive weeks at the top of the chart, and their soaring ballad with Mariah Carey, “One Sweet Day,” was number one for 16 weeks.

    What are the current members of Boyz II Men doing now?

    Nathan Morris continues to work and perform with Boyz II Men while enjoying time as a family man with wife Rachel and kids Jayson, Michael, and Deuce. Despite sharing a last name, Wayna and Nathan are not blood related. Wayna is settled in New Jersey with wife Traci Nash and their six kids while still being involved with the group.

    BOYZ II MEN
    Fraze Pavilion
    Wednesday, August 25, 2021
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