Wanya Morris of legendary R&B group Boyz II Men is excited to be returning to the Golden Triangle to perform with the world renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for its annual Community Partners Program concert
“This is going to be a different experience for us because we have sung with orchestras in the past in other countries but not in the United States or for a non-profit organization,” said Morris.
BOYZ II MEN
Now in its eighth year, The Community Partners Program builds supportive relationships with non-profits in the Pittsburgh area and provides a low-cost fundraising event for several organizations, which helps the participating diverse non-profit organizations raise money.
Twenty-Five non-profit organizations sign up as “partners” for the concert. Each partner is asked to sell 50 tickets to the concert. Patrons may also call the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra box office to purchase a ticket and specify that the cost of the ticket will benefit a participating non-profit partner. All money from the concert is distributed to the appropriate partner, which will allow that organization to raise a significant amount of money.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra donates the orchestra services and secures corporate sponsors to underwrite out-of-pocket costs associated with guest artist services and concert production. Since the program began in 2004, the Community Partners Concerts have raised more than $539,000 for partnering non-profit groups.
“This year we have Boyz II Men and each year we look for groups that would be of interest to our partners and groups that work with orchestras and this year we got Boyz II Men,” said Jessica Schmidt, senior director of community programs for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
“We were very fortunate to get them. They are from Philadelphia and their beginnings were great and to have them return their home state and perform for us is awesome,” Schmidt continued.
The group was formed in 1988 at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. It was originally formed as a quintet but member Marc Nelson left the group to pursue a solo career before the group became a national success. The quartet—which consisted of Wanya Morris, Nate Morris, Shawn Stockman and Michael McCary—quickly became known for complex a cappella harmonies and beautiful emotional ballads.
The 1990s proved to be a pivotal decade for the guys as they made major strides in the music business. In 1991 “Cooley High Harmony” the group’s first album spawned the title track and follow up single, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
They are the most successful R & B group of all time selling more than 60 million records worldwide. Some of the group’s most memorable songs include “I’ll Make Love to You,” “Motown Philly” and “End of the Road.” Boyz II Men won four Grammy Awards during the 1990s. Other top-selling songs in the group’s repertoire include “Song For Mama,” “One Sweet Day,” and “On Bended Knee.”
“The career that we’ve had is unforecasted,” Morris said. “It’s a freak accident. It’s like wow! There were other groups out there doing this but the stars aligned for us.
“We contribute our longevity to good music,” continued Morris, an avid cartoon watcher. “We love the music and we love each other and this is what we were put here to do. God is guiding us.”
Through changes in music and the music industry and the loss of member Mike McCary in 2003, Boyz II Men’s talent still stands the test of time.
A year later the group created the MSM record label and released the album, “Throwback Vol. 1,” which showcased a collection of classic songs.
“We always say ‘one monkey don’t stop the show,’” Morris said. “Mike had a back ailment and he didn’t want to do it anymore. When the chips were down, we decided to fight as a trio and take the stage and command it as a trio.”
And that’s what they plan to do during their June 23 performance at Heinz Hall.
“People will get the chance to experience all of pure and beautiful ballads during the show. We are always happy to express ourselves,” Morris said.
Now signed to Decca Records, the group is preparing to release its 20th anniversary album sometime this year.
(Tickets for the June 23 Heinz Hall concert range from $25.75 to $95.75 and can be purchased by calling 412-392-4900 or visiting www.pittsburghsymphony.org.)