Devoted fans, known as NE4Lifers, can attest to how they tirelessly petitioned for decades to have the group lauded with the prestigious honor. It should come as no surprise how many NE4Lifers made the long trek to be on hand at the ceremony, a prelude to the three-night BET miniseries, beginning January 24 through January 26. Social media has been buzzing with everyone from celebs to common folk eager to witness NE’s tumultuous and triumphant journey from kid stars to seasoned vets.
I’ve had a few NE4Lifers to wonder if I will be in attendance to celebrate the festivities in Los Angeles. While I won’t be there in body, I have always been with these guys through the written word. Throughout the years I was on the battlefield, a foot soldier, in helping to be instrumental in sharing their story on the pages of Jet and EBONY magazines. If I was still there, I would have fought for them to be on the cover, to be honored during the Power 100 and to headline the evening! It would have been a win-win for everyone.
But everything happens for a reason and, truth be told, it wasn’t always easy going to battle for NE. Their delivery as performers was never questioned once they hit the stage. The problem came when making the editorial pitches because I could never quite explain what kept them from getting to the stage and staying there with consistency. During some cover stories, though they appeared picture perfect, things proved otherwise because everyone didn’t always agree to being interviewed.
Thankfully, there’s no more wondering. Our questions will soon be answered, regarding any hills and valleys we never knew about. When I last interviewed them for a 2013 Retrospective piece in EBONY, it was the first time that all six members agreed to speak. The movie deal was still being worked out because Bobby had some trepidations about agreeing to the project. I’ll never forget him telling me how he didn’t feel like the New Edition story was complete because they weren’t on the top. Bobby said, “We’re still working on being able to end on top. We’re giving a hell of a good run of it. We’re looking forward to writing the ending of our legacy instead of it having a tragic ending.”
Tomorrow isn't promised to anyone and with so many high-profile people suddenly dying, it is nice to see that New Edition realizes the value and beauty in cherishing this moment while each member is above ground to share and celebrate the story. This year some of the fellas will be pushing 50 years old and no matter what any one of them has been through, they remain firmly rooted in an industry where it isn’t unusual for child stars to be toppled to the ground, chewed up, spit out and forgotten about. Aside from the Jacksons, no other group has made the transition from boys to men, creating a stylistic blueprint with some considerable measures of success emulated by others. NE has paid their dues for paving the way, because like most pioneers, they weren't always given the proper credit they deserved.
Yes, I'm more than certain that the miniseries will show how badly New Edition has been bruised, but it will also show how they were never broken beyond repair no matter how painful the path. Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny, with every little step, with every NE heartbreak, you have shown true power. That's staying power and that's how true legends continue to write history. God's timing is always perfect. Congrats!
DocM.A.C. signing off. Keep the faith and always trust the process. #OnwardUpward
Six Degrees of Separation in St. Louis:
Video director Dana Christian (r) goes over a scene with Johnny Gill for a music video from his 2011 Still Winning CD. St. Louis singer Sineta Roker, a former “American Idol” contestant, appeared as Gill’s leading lady in the trilogy of videos, directed by my brother. Roker is the cousin of Today Show co-anchor Al Roker and award-winning rocker/actor Lenny Kravitz. Dana said, "I ended up directing three Johnny Gill music videos, which were part of a trilogy: Just The Way You Are, It Would Be You and Second Place. It was two sample songs and one full-length. I decided to tell a story and connect all three.”