On Wednesday night, iconic R&B group Boyz II Men group, singers Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris and Shawn Stockman, are teaming up with country star Brett Young to sing their hit “End of the Road,” among many other songs on CMT’s Crossroads. During the one-hour special, the four-time Grammy Award winning trio will share the stage with the 37-year-old singer and songwriter, the latter of which called this special collaboration performance “a dream come true.”
“Boyz II Men was so present and prevalent in my life when I started writing songs,” Young said. “Every once in a while, when you guys sing your solos I can tell who’s who, but when you’re singing together, it’s like who’s doing what right now? It pushed me as a singer before I even knew it was doing that.”
There are generations of fans that grew up intimately inspired by the songs of Boyz II Men, back when the groups still had four members. While founded by Marc Nelson and and Nathan Morris in high school, the group invited Wanya, Shawn and Michael McCary to join the group. However, the band clashed after bringing on manager, New Edition star Michael Bivins, and Marc Nelson left the group before they hit it big.
The four remaining members: Wanya, Nathan, Stockman, and McCary released their first album, Cooleyhighharmony, in 1991, which earned them their first Grammy. In 1992, they released the song “End of the Road,” and their spot in R&B music was cemented. McCary, the band’s bass singer, sang on the all the original tracks, “I’ll Make Love to You,” “On Bended Knee,” and “4 Seasons of Loneliness,” but after the group released their Full Circle album, he abruptly cut ties with the group in 2003. While the reason was originally chalked up to chronic back pain, 13 years later, the true story was revealed.
In 2016, McCary appeared on OWN’s Iyanla: Fix My Life and revealed the he suffers from multiple sclerosis, and described the two decades of pain he went through without ever telling his bandmates of his autoimmune disease, for which there is currently no cure. In fact, he didn’t even tell his wife, from he divorced 2011. “It became a situation where I didn’t trust her anymore [and] I stopped trusting the brothers when I was about 29. I went through a depression, and it just started to separate me [even] more.”
Doctors told McCary that if he kept performing with Boyz II Men, the stress he put on his body could become permanent. “They were saying that I have a nerve around the sciatica that was locked in place that could sever if I stepped wrong. It’s a possibility that [I] could be paralyzed. If I had to sum up what I got from my brothers in Boyz II Men, I would have to say betrayal, a broken bond. I mean, at this point, we don’t even talk.”
The remaining Boyz II Men members have yet to comment on their former bandmate’s situation since he appeared on the TV show, but while talking to Detroit’s KISS radio in 2014 Stockman said, “Obviously, he was a freak of nature vocally. There’s nobody that we’ve encountered outside of Melvin [Franklin] from The Temptations that actually spoke the way that he sang. Like, he was a true bass. You got guys that act like basses and sing like basses but aren’t basses. We put him in the group and I think Mike enjoyed it… but not as much as we did. It wasn’t in his heart.”
The Boy II Men trio remained together and are now closer than ever. Plus, they have genuinely grown from boys to men. Shawn Stockman, 46, who sings tenor, has been married to wife Sharonda Jones since 2001 and has three children. Founding member Nathan Morris, 47, also sings tenor, remains extremely hush-hush on his private life, and despite having the same last name as bandmate Wanya, the two are not related. Wanya, 45, has been married to wife Traci Nash since 2002, and they have four sons, all of whom look to be following in their daddy’s footsteps.
While it may seem like an odd pairing, Brett Young and Boyz II Men, the trio has regularly collaborated with country music artists, and even performed at the Grand Ole Opry with singers Chris Young, LeAnn Rimes, Charles Wilson, and Brett Eldridge. As Stockman explained, it’s because both kinds or artists make music to ignite romance for their listeners. “I think that’s the tie that binded us. It was one of those things where he comes from not so far of a world. Our songs, our music and our intent behind the music, it’s all the same.”
Brett Young and Boyz II Men’s CMT Crossroads episode airs Wednesday, March 27, at 10 p.m. ET.