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The Ingredients of Timeless Tunes

Boyz II Men's Nathan Morris shares his insight on how to make music that lasts the tests of time.

Tampa-based singer-songwriter Nathan Morris is one of the founding members of Boyz II Men – the legendary R&B band that first rose to superstardom in the 1990s. After the band’s 1991 debut single “Motownphilly” introduced them to the mainstream, the band saw a series of record-breaking chart toppers.

The band’s 1992 love ballad “End of the Road” spent 13 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, beating the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself — Elvis Presley’s — previous 11-week run. In the following years, the band surpassed their own record twice; in 1994, “I’ll Make Love to You” spent 14 weeks at number one, and in 1995-1996, “One Sweet Day” spent 16 weeks at the top.

The band blazed a new trail for other multi-vocalist groups like 98 Degrees, NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys to find fans and fame.

But after Boyz II Men’s meteoric rise, some thought the band’s fire would burn out. Now, 30 years later, the band is still breaking records. In July, 40,000 people flooded into a lakeside amphitheater in Eisenhower Park to see them perform. The band holds the distinction of being the best-selling R&B group of all time with 64 million albums sold. They’ve appeared in Hollywood movies and had a residency at the Mirage Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. They have won four Grammy Awards, nine American Music Awards, nine Soul Train Awards and three Billboard Awards.

It’s safe to say the Boyz found the magic ingredients to make music with longevity. In this brief email interview with Lifestyle Media, Morris shares his connection to Florida and his insight on how the band has lasted the test of time.

What do you think the magic is? What has made your music so timeless?

I think it’s the fans. They decide what’s timeless or not.

Your music has gained a global following. What themes at a human/soul level are crucial to creating music that translates globally and resonates universally? 

Empathy. You have to have it to be able to write and relate to others lives and what they go through.

You’re based in Tampa. Can you please share your history and connection to Florida?

I’ve always wanted to live in Florida since I was about 23 years old. One of our early shows was in Miami, and from Philly I never knew there was water that blue in the US. So ever since then, I’ve wanted to be down here. But I knew I couldn’t move unless I was on the water.

Has Florida — its music, people, culture —  influenced your music in any particular way? 

I haven’t been down here long enough to say but we love the vibe and the fans when we have tour stops in this state.

You were once quoted saying “to me we’re in a day and age now where there will probably never be any legendary artists ever again because our attention span is too short.” — Can you elaborate on why you think today’s music scene is not apt to produce legendary artists anymore? 

We don’t value things the way we used to, and we also don’t have patience. Becoming legendary takes time…time that most people don’t have anymore. They want everything now.

What advice do you have for young men — either as aspiring musicians or purely as human beings?

Learn to master controlling your mind. Everything we ever do, think, try to say, or act on starts in our mind. If you learn to not act on every thought that comes through it, then you’ll have better control of your destiny.  

Photo of Boyz II Men courtesy of Matt Mendell

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