This year’s Stanbic Music Festival was graced by the legendary American Rhythm and Blues group Boyz II Men. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the group has been singing for more than twenty-five years. Originally a quartet comprising Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and Michael McCary, the group shot to international fame in 1992 with their number one hit “End of the Road”, marking the beginning of their road to success and stardom. The hit maintained the number one slot of the Billboard Hot 100 for a record breaking thirteen weeks.
It took their next hit single, “I’ll Make Love to You” to claim the number one spot, this time for fourteen weeks. Breaking their own record again was no mean feat; this time with “One Sweet Day”, in collaboration with Mariah Carey. The song had a sixteen week stay at number one and was performed at Princess Diana’s memorial service in September, 1997. Over the next decade the boys would enjoy international stardom and several number one hits. In 2003, Michael known to many of us as ‘the one with the deep voice’ left the group due to health reasons. His departure, despite being associated with many rumours even of his death didn’t stop the group from continuing successfully.
With a lot of effort behind the marketing campaign, the well-publicised show was highly anticipated by many Zambians as well as fans from the region. There was of course the inevitable talk from the critics about the group being incomplete and no longer at the top of their game.
Once again Chishala Chitoshi better known as ‘Gesh groove hosted the event with Kamiza Chikula. Very much at ease the duo flowed well with their usual banter.
Literally thousands of fans, with a few Doubting Thomases perhaps showed up at the Lusaka Polo Club to be part of Zambia’s biggest music festival. Local artists Abel Chungu Musuka, Wezi, Mumba Yachi and Chef 187 set the mood for friday evening. The trio were preceded by Caitlin Deville who expertly played interludes from the hits of yesteryear on her electric violin.
Many had their doubts as to whether she was a good choice for the curtain raiser. She was however, very well received and I personally was pleasantly surprised by how good she is. With the crowds singing to the likes of Coolio and Michael Jackson, the stage was definitely set for the main act.
Exquisitely dressed in white, the fans went wild when the trio burst onto the stage. The show debuted with one of their hits Motownphilly. Fans sang along and it was like being magically transported twenty-odd years back to the nineties. From then on the hits just flowed one after another. Water runs dry, On bended Knee, Mama. Members of the audience sang word-for-word as if the hits were released last year. Truly a trip down memory lane! Before the show the fans were promised an exhilarating show.
True to their word the show was indeed memorable. One of the highlights of the performance was when the trio handed out red roses to a few lucky fans as they belted out one of their greatest hits ‘I’ll Make Love To You’ The fans were not the only ones who enjoyed the show. The trio may not have previously heard of Zambia but were overwhelmed by the reception they got. Nathan thanked the Zambian fans in a Facebook post that clearly showed how amazed they were that so many years later half way around the globe Boyz II Men are not only a household name but icons.
With September, 2017 marking 26 years of them singing, the years have been very kind. Obviously a bit thicker around the waist and sporting a dash of grey hair Boyz II Men are no spring chickens, but for men in their forties they still got moves.
After the captivating performance they put up even the critics have to admit the boys still got it. As far as their music goes they are far from the end of the road!