Four-time Grammy winners Boyz II Men celebrate 20 years of success during a riveting show stacked with soul and fueled with the signature Motown-Philly sound. With more than 60 million records sold, Boyz II Men’s penchant for heart-tugging ballads and barbershop-quartet-shaming harmonies has made it one the most successful groups in R&B history. From the new-jack-swing era of Cooleyhighharmony, when Boyz were boys, through its current post-adolescent druthers for infusing Motown classics with polyphonic manhood, the members of Boyz II Men persevere by squeezing emotion out of their hearts like human toothpaste tubes filled with soul. On stage, the group dives into a bottomless trough of classics from its champion career, which includes combustible anthems such as “I’ll Make Love to You” and the seminal song “End of the Road,” which is mostly heard blaring from police megaphones during high-speed car chases.
Established in 2007, the Charlotte Music Awards support local talent by spotlighting regional musicians across a broad range of genres, from rock to country to folk to hip-hop. Standing as the culmination of a series of individual showcases, the fully tuned ceremony harvests gifted ensembles and quick-witted teleprompters from throughout the Carolinas to create a talent-packed year-end finale. This year, a collection of more than 80 stars headlines the evening, as performances from bands such as Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, the Mary Selvidge Band, and J Chozen delight open-eared attendees. Peppered among performances, a lengthy list of awards will recognize standout acts, with accolades for best bands, songs of the year, and a lifetime achievement award, which honors individuals who can whistle the Gilligan's Island theme song without any errors.
Many dance companies approach ballet from a modern angle. Caroline Calouche prefers a more perpendicular one. When the stage is not enough space for her visions of macabre masquerade balls or surreal dreamscapes, she takes to the air above it, outfitted with a cirque's worth of aerial harnesses and accouterments. Her dancers are just as likely to pirouette down a 20-foot skein of golden silk as across a hardwood floor. Pairs of lovers might hang precariously from the frame of a hollow cube or perform a gravity-defying pas de deux on the double lyra—their suspension above the earth either an expression of freedom or a prison of their own making. Like identifying an elderly smoker's gender over the phone, the airborne element leaves plenty of room for interpretation.
By marrying the storytelling ability of floor-bound choreography with the gravity-defying tricks of circus arts, Caroline Calouche & Co. unleashes the full potential of aerial dance. The company's productions are free to venture to strange new places. For example, in past shows, women have risen from their graves to haunt their murderous husbands. Likewise, the sounds of Moby and Blue Man Group are more likely to be heard than Debussy.
Audience members who want to plqy the ropes and silks for themselves can learn to do so during the dance company's aerial-dance classes, along with a tight curriculum of ballet, contemporary, and stretching and strengthening courses. For all its global influences and aerial showmanship, Caroline Calouche & Co. keeps its feet rooted in the local community with outreach programs for all ages, ethnicities, and social groups.
Grammy-nominated bassist John Brown and his band delight audiences with jazzy, jubilant tunes and an inter-musician chemistry that has garnered the group an award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival for its short film on recording music. During a traveling Christmas concert, the band grooves through a playlist of classic holiday favorites and original pieces, including an a cappella reading of John Brown's Christmas list. While Brown lends his internationally admired plucking to the score, a troupe of trombones, saxes, and guitars dusts off Christmas carols and sends them high-kicking and Lindy-hopping through the theater.