New Edition isn’t so new anymore. The 1980s R&B boy band is now entering the realm of ‘classic’ and ‘celebrated’. In fact, the group was honored by ASCAP this summer at its 21st Annual Rhythm & Soul Music Awards, celebrating the group’s 25th anniversary. But while the group is being remembered for their music history, the members are still making new moves.
The boys from Boston – Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, and Ronnie Devoe – became Right On cover staples as hits like “Candy Girl,” “Is This the End,” “Jealous Girl,” “Cool it Now,” “Count Me Out,” “A Little Bit of Love,” and many, many more raced up the charts in the ‘80s. They maintained their soul status into the early ‘90s with “If it Isn’t Love,” “Can You Stand the Rain,” with a switch of players – Johnny Gill for Bobby Brown, who’d soon release a solo album.
New Edition went on hiatus to pursue side projects away from the group in the mid-90s and spawned solo hits from Tresvant and Gill and multi-platinum status from the remaining three as the group Bell Biv Devoe. So 25 years after their first hit, the six-man quintet was honored among rumors of a reunion album and tour.
“It was fun,” Tresvant said of the honor earlier this year. “It was one of those things that you think you’re gonna live to see the day. New Edition used to sit back and say, ‘Man, where is our star; where is our this or that.’ No one seemed to notice what we’d been doing. Just when you get to the point where you’re not really trippin’ on that anymore, here comes ASCAP recognizing 25 years of very hard work. It felt very, very good.”
“We’re great friends,” he said. “We’re brothers. We’re as close as brothers get. I don’t talk to my blood brother everyday, but that’s how close we are. We’re always concerned about what’s going on in each other’s lives. And if any time something’s not, we’re the first ones to jump up and do a show or do whatever we have to do to get them back on their feet. That’s how we work. We’re always in touch.”
The singer, who has shared lead with Bobby Brown and Johnny Gill during their tenures with the group, has been more in touch with those two lately. Bad Boy Bobby Brown revealed that the three have teamed to form a new group.
“[We’re] in a new group now – The Heads of State: Johnny Gill, myself, and Ralph Tresvant. All three of us. We’re working on a CD,” Brown says. “We weren’t going to do a reunion tour with New Edition, so we decided to keep it moving so we came up with the group. You got the three leads, so you can’t mess with that.”
Brown said that the three have only recently begun work on the album. No recordings just yet, but they are in the process of getting the right songs and prepping for a full fledged tour (they’ve already done some spot dates) – and working on their own solo discs.
That’s right. Not only are the three leads teaming for a project, but all three will have new discs.
“I might be on the verge of my ‘Off the Wall’ album; my breakthrough,” Tresvant said of his new project. “This album is sounding really, really nice. I just feel so grown on it. I feel real rich with the songs and the melodies. Everything on this album feels like what I’ve been waiting for people to hear me as an individual. I’ve never really done the solo artist thing. I did a solo project with ‘Sensitivity.’ I’ve just always felt like a member of a group. This particular run I’m feeling more grown and independent and I think it’s reflected in the project.”
“Everything is coming out,” Brown said. “We’re just going to flood the industry.”