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Not the end of the road for R&B icons as section of Broad Street becomes Boyz II Men Boulevard

Boyz2men
Darryl Murphy

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The members of R&B’s legendary Boyz II Men were honored Saturday at their alma mater, Philadelphia High School for the Creative & Performing Arts in South Philly, when the city named a section of Broad Street after them.

On the steps of the school, whose alumni include the hip-hop band The Roots and Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr., local politicians and executives joined about 50 community members for a ceremony to rename the stretch of Broad Street in front of CAPA — between Christian and Carpenter — Boyz II Men Boulevard.

Among those honoring the group were Council members Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla, City Representative Sheila Hess, and CAPA principal Joanne Beaver.

“It’s an honor, a real, real honor to know that the city that raised us, the city that practically brought us up, musically and otherwise, was gracious and kind enough to give us this honor,” said group member Shawn Stockman.

Before becoming the best-selling R&B group of all time, Boyz II Men began with Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, and Michael McCary, when they were students in CAPA. In 2003, McCary left the group due to health issues.

In 1989, the group was discovered by Michael Bivins, a member of New Edition. The members of Boys II Men sneaked backstage and sang to him after one of New Edition’s performances.

Signed to Motown, they released their debut album Cooleyhighharmony in 1991 behind the success of their single “Motownphilly.” Their career has produced 11 albums, over 60 million records sold worldwide, seven platinum singles, and four Grammy Awards.

Early last month, Councilman Johnson proposed a city resolution to rename the section of Broad Street in front of CAPA after the group in honor of its artistic and philanthropic achievements. He said his favorite Boyz II Men songs are “Motownphilly” and “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”

“When they got their record deal, it was like we all made it,” said Johnson, a South Philly native.

“It was like everybody from the neighborhood made it, because Boyz II Men made it. So today is a special day for me. We thank you, and we appreciate you.”

The trio was treated to a rendition of “Motownphilly” by CAPA’s student choir. They were led by Dorina Morrow for the last time.

For 42 years, Morrow has taught music in the District, spending the last 19 at CAPA as choral director and head of the school’s vocal department. She retired on June 21.

Rhymik Thompson, a 2017 graduate of CAPA, was one of the student performers. A Boyz II Men fan, he said that while performing, he wanted to make sure he did their music justice.

“I wanted to make sure it was going to be the best for them,” he said. "I think we did the best that we could, and I hope to perform with them [again] one day.”

The event was made possible through a partnership with City Council, the Office of the City Representative, and Welcome America Inc.

Boyz II Men is now touring with New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul for the Total Package Tour.

“This is the blessing that we are going to remember for a very long time," said group member Wanya Morris. “We love you all, appreciate you.”

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