As far as I can remember I have always been connected to music on a deep level. From my grandmother’s humming in the kitchen while she cooked, to the sounds of Tears for Fears’ ‘Mad World’ at our neighbourhood street parties. Genre was never a barrier, I loved all types of music – hiphop, latin, rock, r&b, funk&soul, folk, country, grunge, you name it. What resonated with me was never the heaviness of the guitar strumming or the tricky vocal runs, what did it for me has always been the ‘realness’. What does that even mean? Well, to me if the song feels like it’s been through the ropes of life, if it feels true – like a heartfelt story flowing out of someone’s diary, that’s when I listen. Love and loss – I’ll take it! Joy and Pain – I’ll take that too. ‘Mmm Bop’ and ‘Barbie Girl’ – I’ll pass thanks.
To this day, when I choreograph a piece, I always use music as my blue-print. I have always preached to my students with enthusiasm – like that kid who continuously boasted his views, “Superman will always beat Batman cos he’s from Krypton and Batman is only a man in tights”. Whether you shared that kid’s sentiment is one thing but you gotta love his gusto. These days I see a lot of dancers use stylistic trends and youtube sensations as their building blocks for their work. Humbly, I choose to use music as my foundation. All the highs, all the lows, the rough texture, the smooth contrasts, lyrics, emotions, stillness – it’s already all there so why deny yourself the truth for the sake of trend or recognition.
Anyway, back to music.
Last Saturday night I had the super-awesome pleasure of watching one of my favourite vocal bands of all time Boys ll Men at the Trak Lounge. To paint the picture for y’all – Boys ll Men was like sticky maple syrup on fluffy buttermilk pancakes! Uhh-May-Zeeng! Nathan Morris was suffering from a throat infection yet he soldiered on with a whole lotta heart. Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris carried the show with vocals that brought everyone together in song, reliving memorable tracks from the golden years of R&B – the 90s. It transported us all back to the days of Midori Illusion shakers, Chambre shirts, Cross Colour jeans, Malcolm X caps, Eyebrow tracks, West Coast Coolers and Dunhill Menthols. The time when guys and girls danced with each other in slow jam bliss and the DJ held on to Gregory Abbott’s ‘Shake You Down’ until the very end of the night so his brothers can let loose their mack moves. Oh sooo bad, yet oh sooo good! It’s not every day you get to relive the most cherished memories of your youth. Boys ll Men took me, and the entire place, back there with their amazing voices and timeless lyrics. It was certainly Music and Magic colliding in vocal harmony. I was truly 17 again (but about 15 kgs heavier).
One of my favourite moments of the night – Wanya Morris singing ‘It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday’ accapella. The power of a great voice. Real Music.
written by JC Reyes