By Stephanie Harper,
Special to the AFRO
Baltimore residents will be pleased to know that with their Summer 2022 Orioles ticket purchase, they will be able to attend the Birdland Summer Music Series. Presented by Miller Lite, the event is part of the on-going celebration of the 30th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Within the last decade, Oriole Park has evolved into a top tier entertainment venue, welcoming music enthusiasts of all genres to a variety of concerts and events in the ballpark. Among those for the summer line up, Baltimore natives and legendary singing group, Dru Hill will be performing at Oriole Stadium on August 6. Dru Hill consists of Sisqo’, Nokio, Jazz, Scola, Tao, and Black and Smoke from the 90’s singing group Playa.
We had an opportunity to discuss the upcoming performance with the Grammy award winning group.
Q: How does it feel to come back to where it all started and perform a full show for anticipating fans?
A: Nokio – “It’s a blessing and we thank God for the longevity and to see everything come in full circle.”
A: Sisqo – “It’s officially 30 years for the Orioles and it’s been 25 years for Dru Hill. We’re feeling truly blessed. Now we’re eligible for the Rock Hall of Fame. This is a huge honor.”
The group is long overdue in accolades as they have laid foundation on successfully merging two R&B groups together, with Smoke and Black from Playa, to create a consistent style that has become a part of the music industry’s DNA.
It takes skill and talent to maintain accuracy and keep their long term fans attached to both groups through the decades. Recently, Jazz made his returning debut with the group to perform for BounceTVs 2022 30th anniversary Trumpet Awards and it went viral. The vocals and energy blew the roof off and they received a standing ovation from all in attendance.
Q: Will the group be performing new music?
A: Sisqo – “We won’t have enough time to do new music. We plan on hitting them with the hits and knock them out the park with home runs.”
The arrangements and unquestionable smooth crescendos and falsettos from Platinum hits album “Dru Hill”, featuring “In My Bed”, “Never Make A Promise”, and “Tell Me” are expected crowd pleasers.
Delivering hit after hit will spark a new love affair for new and lifelong fans that have longed for nostalgic moments and romantic memories with Dru Hill as the soundtrack.
Q: The fans would love new music. Can we expect a new project or is the group working on a new project?
A: Scola – “We’re actively working on new music and even with our older songs, we’re always keeping the show fresh and never doing anything twice. The fans, old and new, should expect the unexpected because we change up the momentum. Anybody that’s ever been a part of Dru Hill knows that we can do our thing.”
Q: There are several complex dynamics when it comes to different voices that have changed in the group over 25 years. There’s a difference between studio vocals and live sets. How has the group stayed conditioned for live performances over the years?
A: Jazz – “Blessed. We were fortunate enough to have a lot of the same musical influences as we came up. Icons such as R&B groups Jodeci and Boyz to Men taught us swag. We were taught how to sing and do your job and play your position. I know everyone’s voice and I know where I fit in it. Knowing where you fit in takes skills and talent.”
A: Scola – “We also know coming from Baltimore, Md., they can tell when you’re not bringing your best. They’ll tell you when you’re bad. Coming from Baltimore you had to be all the way thorough. We’ve been doing it for so long that we know how to make adjustments that add to the overall stardom that we bring to each and every performance.”
Q: While you’re in the city are there any places you want to make sure to visit or that you always visit when you’re here?
A: Black – “Blue Moon Cafe is a must for me and I try to grab a Baltimore staple, “chicken box” best known as four wings and fries with a half and half on the side.”
A: Scola – “Whenever I go home I go to West Baltimore and go to any local spot on that side of town and grab a nice “chicken box.”
Q: Dru Hill’s next stop is the Dell Center in Philly later in August. How does it feel to be on tour after COVID and really be embraced by the fans?
A: Jazz – “One word- amazing.”
A: Nokio – “Great, but I still stay far and make sure I stay tested and healthy. Every couple of weeks we’re having to be diligent and require ourselves to take care of our health.”
A: Black – “While we’re definitely glad the crowd is back we’re mindful that we need to take care of ourselves. It’s a blessing to have that energy and overwhelming love in person again.”
A: Sisqo – “We’re definitely happy to see the crowd and ready to take on the adventures that come. We’re being safe, wearing masks, washing hands, and staying healthy.”
Q: Besides the music industry, how is the group giving back to the communities? Locally, would you invest in The Fudgery, the chocolate shop in the Inner Harbor, that helped launch Dru Hill’s career?
A: Sisqo – “I’ve spoken to the owner and it has to be a smart investment. I think it presents a great opportunity for young kids to make money while they work on their craft, so we would have to figure out how to make it make sense. We just reconnected with them and it may happen in the future.”
A: Black – “Right now I have a youth organization that hosts and facilitates an 8- to 9-year-old AAU football team that, to date, has over 50 to 80 kids during a season. I truly believe in giving back to our youth.”
A: Sisqo – “I’m on the board with Black and I’m all for the kids. Especially those from my city, Baltimore, that could use the encouragement with their talent.”
Baltimore’s music enthusiasts deserve this reunion with local treasure Dru Hill, future Rock Hall of Famers, whose pure genius is unmatched. Their success in the music industry is a reflection of their aptitude and gifts as they continue to thrive through the years concreting their legendary status with remarkable performances and superb showmanship.
The Birdland Summer Music Series will feature Dru Hill and Sisqo’ on August 6 following the game.
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