Az Yet Biography
Last updated: 08/21/2013 08:11:15 AM
Az Yet are already enjoying the critical acclaim being garnered on their debut Gold single "Last Night". The single hit #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and was featured on the original motion picture soundtrack from the hit movie "The Nutty Professor", starring Eddie Murphy.
There were three people who realised early-on that Az Yet, with the right direction, development and focus could become one of alike the most popular singing groups ever to come along. These three were Jacqueline McQuam, Michael McQuam and award-winning singer, song-writer, producer Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, who has produced and penned the majority of songs on Az Yet's debut album.
Says Babyface, "Az Yet is one of the most talented groups to ever come along. When they sing, it becomes magic. This group is destined for success. Not only can they sing, but they also write, produce and arrange. Az Yet is unique in that their mix of influences and flavor defies labelling. I am happy to be associated with them."
Babyface is correct. The various influences of R&B, jazz, blues, hip hop, and gospel that flavour their music is why the group was originally known as "As Yet Untitled". Says Shawn Rivera, "We found it hard to label ourselves because we enjoy singing and performing so many different styles". Echoes Kenny Terry, "We originally used the name, Az Yet Untitled, to describe our style, which is ever-growing and all-encompassing".
How did these five young men come together to form such a one-of-a-kind sound? Shawn and Dion met in early 1990. Both sang, shared a love for music, and wanted to form a singing group. They decided to "go for it" and began combing the city of Philadelphia for other vocalists who wanted to make it as much as they did.
In 1991, (several name changes and group members later), Dion and Shawn met Kenneth Terry, under somewhat unusual circumstances. Kenny was working at the Wyndham Hotel in Philadelphia, and, as Shawn and Dion were passing through the lobby, they overheard him loudly singing. And, they agreed he could sing. His voice rang out richly throughout the lobby of the prestigious hotel. They began singing along -impromptu-, liked what they heard and the chemistry they shared. They had found not only a talented singer, but one who would become an important element in the group's distinctive sound. They then recruited other members and for six years set-out on a quest to be discovered and to perfect their talents.
Their lives changed forever when a self-produced demo reached the hands of Los Angeles business woman Jacqueline McQuam "I was so impressed with their demo tape, I called them and arranged to meet with them in Philadelphia", says Jack. "When I got there, they did a nine song showcase for me in my hotel room and I was sold". The guys were equally impressed with the ideas, direction and focus Jack laid out for them. Soon there-after, Jack signed a management agreement with the group, and immediately began shopping their demo and seeking other opportunities for them. One of the individuals who Jack let hear the group's music, via showcase, was her son-in-law, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds (married to Jackie's daughter Tracey). And, as it is said, "The rest is history".
Babyface was so impressed, that not only did he allow them to open for his concert with After 7 and El Debarge, but he was instrumental in their signing, in 1995, a recording contract with LaFace Records. "After signing with LaFace records, I decided to bring my son Michael McQuam in as co-", says Jack. "I felt that his experience as vice president and A&R director for Yab Yum Records would be a big help in our maximising our opportunity. I also convinced the label to relocate the group out here in Los Angeles so they would be in a position to work closer with Babyface".
The group would undergo a few more changes before reaching their current level of perfection. While in the midst of their negotiations with LaFace Records, the group lost a group member who decided to go to the ministry. They immediately recruited a fellow Philadelphian, the very talented Darryl Anthony as a replacement. And prior to recording, Babyface, Jack and Michael McQuam, and the group determined that the group needed one more lead voice to make for fine tuning. Both Jack and Michael suggested that they consider Marc Nelson, gifted singer and friend of Dion's from Philadelphia, now living in Los Angeles.
Their suggestion was readily accepted by the group. In fact, they had attempted to recruit Marc earlier, but he had just separated from Boyz II Men and had signed a solo deal with MCA. However, this time, Marc was ready to be part of a group again and said "Yes". Thus, birth of - Az Yet: Shawn, Dion, Kenneth, Darryl, and Marc.
They are excited about their first album and being part of "a family of five" as Shawn says. Kenny sums it up, "God introduced us to each other for a reason. We look forward to using the talents he gave us to perform and make as many people happy as we can".