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Boyz II Men bring harmonies to NCC stage

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Boyz II Men will perform at North Central College on Sept. 24.

After 20 years of making music, the boys in Boyz II Men are men now, and have boys (and girls) of their own.

In fact, these men are now influencing boys (and girls) with their tight, soulful harmonies and longevity in the music business.

The R&B group that Justin Bieber cites as a major influence will perform Sept. 25 at North Central College. Their stop in Naperville marks the end of a European tour and is part of their 20th anniversary celebration. The band was named the most successful musical group of the 1990s by Billboard Magazine.

Band member Shawn Stockman chalked up their perseverance to a love of music and performing.

"We never felt like when people would say we're just a '90s group, that our careers had to stop when the '90s were over," he said. "I think we still have a lot more to say and lot more to do and places we haven't gone before. There are still a great number of things the guys and I haven't accomplished, and being together draws us closer to that goal. We love music, we love each other and our plan is to continue to do what we do. We'll do it till people say they don't want to see us no more. And even then we might do it."

Knowing that his group has influenced future generations "feels good."

"I think that's any artist's goal at the end of the day, that their music has touched someone," he said.

The group signed its first record contract in 1990 as a quartet with Motown Records when the members were teenagers. Their first release in 1991, "Cooleyhighharmony," sold more than 9 million copies and won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. It featured the No. 1 single "End of the Road."

In 1994, Boyz II Men released its second album, "II," which included the hits "On Bended Knee," "Water Runs Dry" and "I'll Make Love to You" -- a single that spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the charts.

Boyz II Men has racked up four Grammy Awards, nine American Music Awards, two World Music Awards and has sold more than 60 million records. The group, now a trio, released its latest studio album "Love" in 2009. According to Stockman, the album features cover versions of songs by "artists I don't think people would expect us to cover."

"We did 'Iris' by the Goo Goo Dolls, because that's a song we love. We love all kinds of music and we always have," he said. "We wanted to do something for our fans and give them somewhat of a surprise. And we try to do the songs justice."

Last year, they recorded the theme song for the TV show "Psych," to go with a doo-wop-group-themed episode.

"That was a lot of fun," he said. "We saw the guys from 'Psych' a few weeks later at an event and they loved it. Stuff like that is always cool to do."

Despite the band's success, to Stockman's kids, he'll always be just Daddy. He's the father of twin 7-year-old boys and a 6-month old daughter.

"They'd much rather play Nintendo Wii than see Daddy at a concert. They've been there, done that," he said, chuckling. "I think it's cute. They look at me as Daddy, and at the end of the day, they just want to see Daddy and play with Daddy and have Daddy home."

As part of the 20th anniversary celebration, Boyz II Men is putting together a double CD with pictures and special guest appearances. And next Feb. 11-14, the band is inviting fans on a Boyz II Men cruise from Miami to the Bahamas.

"It's something for our fans and couples and people who want to enjoy a cruise," he said. "We'll be doing private performances and activities. We'll make it fun and interactive for the fans."

He wants to thank his fans for supporting the band for the last 20 years.

"Hopefully we'll be around for another 20," he said. "It's because of our fans we've made it this long."