Releasing a new album this year was something of an "emancipation" for Boyz II Men."
The wide-ranging "Collide," which came out in October, "best represents who Boyz II Men really is," according to the group's Shawn Stockman, 23 years after the Philadelphia group's debut single, "Motownphilly," and a dozen solo albums.
"We kind of got thrown into the whole R&B group thing back in (the 90s), but we never looked at ourselves as just an R&B group," explains Stockman, 42, who's also a judge on the NBC reality show "The Sing-Off." "Even back in high school we sang all types of music, from classical to Gregorian chant to...everything. And even before high school. We listened to pop and rock and...everything. It wasn't just R&B music. We've always dibbled and dabbled in other genres of music because we love them."
"So ('Collide') is basically us just shedding our skin and showing people who Boyz II Men really is."
But Stockman says fans can rest assured that Boyz II Men, which sang Billy Joel's "For the Longest Time" at his recent Gershwin Prize reception Washington, D.C., is still its hits as well -- a prolific legacy that includes sales of 64 million records worldwide and record-setting runs at No. 1 with its hits "End of the Road" and "On Bended Knee." The group, which began as a quartet and is now a trio, has eight Top 5 hits altogether, and Stockman says that there's never a problem singing those in concert.
"I love singing those songs, and I'm grateful that we have 'em," he says. "New music will always come out of us, but to have hit records, I mean, come on,man. That's what we're all in this for, to create the type of music that connects with a mass of people, and we're fortunate enough to have quite a few.
"So even though I might get tired, the people who are in front of us rejuvenate us by how excited they are when I see them and they react to their favorite record when we finally play it for them."
8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21
SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit.
Tickets are $43-$53.
Call (313) 237-7711 or visit www.MotorCityCasino.com.
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