I can recall the vivid memories of my childhood bedroom, literally covered with New Edition posters. Be it a Sam Goody or Waxie Maxie purchase, to the must-have centerfolds from Right On! and Word Up! Magazines, as a teen-aged girl you had to be crazy NOT to have Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph (and Johnny) on your wall.
Fast forward almost three decades later. Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe, known to legions of fans as Bell Biv DeVoe, celebrate 27 years in the music business as part of one of the best groups to ever do it and to carving out a niche as an equally loved R&B trio.
I caught up with them via phone interview recently, as they prepare for a quick promo tour, including a performance tonight at Liv Nightclub in DC. Here my quick three for my favorite R&B trifecta:
RiaRob: If you could, what would you say to young artists/groups to serve as a blueprint while maneuvering through this industry?
Ricky Bell: Honestly, I wish I could say that we had the main blueprint to being successful in this business. What I can say is that given the experience we have, as well as the ability to sustain for all these years as friends and business partners, know that there are going to be growing pains and stumbling blocks. Being in a group is similar to being in a marriage. You have to know how to balance it all and realize when to give one another space. When you are a solo act it is extremely different. All of the decisions are pretty much placed on you to decide. As a group, you have to consider the other members in order for things to work. That’s not to say that we did not bump our heads from time to time. We grew up together, our families know each other, we vacation together. We are close. When friends become group members, bu realize how strong that friendship and bond is, that is the relationship that they will work hardest to keep in tact. They will be able to work out their differences when it is time to come to the table and handle business. That’s how it worked for us.
RiaRob: Being that “Poison” was one of the songs that ushered in the R&B/Hip Hop hybrid, what are your thoughts of the evolution of that genre in today’s music?
Ronnie DeVoe: I feel the success of “Poison” and BBD was that it was a great combination of who we were as young men embracing the sounds of hip hops and the greats during that time like a Big Daddy Kane while still maintaining the spirit of good R&B music. We seen this tradition throughout the years in the Beyonce/Jay-Z collaborations, the way Drake’s and Nikki Minaj’s music has affected the mainstream, and how Trey Songz is building momentum in R&B. In essence, the trend is organic although a lot of the music now is more cutting edge. My concern is that we have lost touch with real love songs and family friendly songs. There is simply not enough balance.
Unfortunately, as I pose my last question we lose Michael Bivins (lost signal or dropped call) but Ronnie graciously steps in.
RiaRob: What are BBD’s plans for 2011?
Ronnie DeVoe: We just infuse our brand in 2011. Between Bell Biv DeVoe, New Edition, and the other solo acts (Ralph, Bobby, Johnny), we will bring all of our identities back together. We have been in this business going on 27 years and we still have good music to offer the people.
So there you have it. Special thanks to V. Smith Productions for bringing BBD to DC for tonight’s show at Liv Nightclub, Brooke Payne, BBD’s manager, and the ultrafabulous folks at Soulcial Grind PR for the press opportunity.