Boyz II Men still singing after all these years

IN 1991 Boyz II Men arrived on the pop music scene with their own brand of R&B that peppered Motown-like harmonies with New Jack Swing, a genre that fused R&B, hip-hop and pop music.

The following year their wrenching ballad, End of the Road, sent the Philadelphia natives to international superstardom, and on Tuesday the band releases Twenty, a double-disc album of new and revisited material commemorating the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Cooley High Harmony.

Twenty reunites Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris and Shawn Stockman with End of the Road producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. Their latest single, One Up for Love, the video for which premiered last Friday, was produced by Edmonds.

"There's a song for every person, a song for each day," Boyz II Men singer Wanya Morris said.

"It's autumn so the leaves are changing and it gives me a So Amazing vibe," he added, making reference to a new mid-tempo track produced by the hitmaking duo Tim and Bob.

"Tomorrow, if I'm feeling more romantic," Morris continued,

"I might want to listen to something like Slowly, which is the album's slinky ballad that also was produced by Tim and Bob.

The 20-song collection comprises 12 new original tracks and eight newly recorded versions of classics like Motownphilly, I'll Make Love to You and On Bended Knee.

"When we first did the songs they were just given to us and we went into the studio and got it done," explained Nathan Morris. "But now we've been singing them for so long and even experienced some of the stuff that we've been singing about ... we're able to express them a lot better."

The group marvels at how far they - and the record industry overall - have changed in 20 years.

"When we came out there wasn't even an internet! No internet!" said Wanya Morris. "Everything is digital now and it's easier to get your talent out fast."

But Wanya is careful not to discount celebrities like Justin Bieber whose career was launched on YouTube.

Bieber, who was born the same year that Boyz II Men's I'll Make Love to You was a hit, counts the group among his influences, and he and Boyz II Men recorded a song together for the teen star's upcoming Christmas album.

"It was the perfect avenue for us to do something different because it's the type of record that doesn't matter how old you are or who you are, it doesn't matter, as long as the song sounds great," said Wanya Morris.

While many Boyz II Men-inspired acts have come and gone in the last two decades, Wanya Morris attributes his group's longevity to their homegrown bonds. The trio met while students at The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.

"Most of the time you have solo artists that come together to form a group, and they're contrived by a record label or a manager - just four or five guys who look like models or TV stars," said Wanya. "Boyz II Men, we came together through music."

Now, the band struggles with being called legends because, they say, there is much more music to come.

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