Brett Young, Boyz II Men Bring Soul to Country at ‘CMT Crossroads’ Taping
For Brett Young, performing with Boyz II Men for CMT Crossroads is more than a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration, it's a thank you to his musical heroes. The country star teamed up with Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris and Shawn Stockman of the legendary R&B group for an episode of the cross-genre show that taped in front of a live audience at the Grand Ole Opry's Studio A in Nashville on Thursday (Feb. 27).
In another life, Young may have been a member of Boyz II Men, with his warm, soulful voice shining alongside the iconic R&B singers. He was on cloud nine for the duration of the 90-minute set — a bashful grin rarely left his face — clearly in awe of the artists who helped pave the way for his career.
"I think finding their music is how I found country music," Young remarked, connecting the storytelling of their songs to those in the country genre. "These boys formed so much of who I am as an artist."
Throughout an evening that included unique renditions of signature hits from both of their catalogs, the gentle ballads allowed their voices to unite in the purest form. Nowhere was that more evident than with Young's "Mercy," the song that helped set Crossroads in motion. The trailblazing group revealed it was the first song they heard of Young's, and it "convinced" them to collaborate with the country star. Collectively, their pristine voices conveyed the pain in the poignant ballad, putting all of their emotion into it and making for one of the evening's best moments.
"That song is so heartfelt," Wanya Morris said sincerely, stating Boyz II Men's desire to cover it in their own set.
They set the tone for the moving "Water Runs Dry" by having the audience swing their arms up and down while snapping their fingers before the smooth melody kicked in and allowed Young to demonstrate a series of impressive falsetto notes. The classic "End of the Road" found Morris hitting every note with poise and ease as Young provided soothing harmonies.
"It feels good to be up here with people that remember," Wanya said gratefully, thanking the crowd for singing along. Another highlight came with the only cover song of the night, which Boyz II Men introduced by telling the story of how it was initially pitched to them years ago. They passed on it, and the song became a career-defining hit for a country group.
"That was ours, we blew it," Nathan Morris joked when the crowd recognized that it was Lonestar's "Amazed." A welcomed interpretation, Young's voice stood strong alongside the group's a cappella harmonies that added a soulful flair to the country hit.
Though the two acts didn't meet until rehearsal the day before the taping, there was obvious chemistry that existed between them as they engaged in playful banter and genuine praise in between takes.
"It seems like we've known this guy forever," Stockman described. "There's some spirits you connect with."
"The music is what connects us," added Wanya in regard to their relationship with Young and the audience.
The night ended on a quintessential note as the four singers handed out individual roses to the women in the audience while romantically singing "I'll Make Love to You," bringing to close an event that demonstrated the power in the unity of soul and country music.
The Brett Young and Boyz II Men episode of CMT Crossroads airs on March 27 at 10PM ET.
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