Boy band sensations New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) and Boyz II Men are back in the news. Both throwback acts are part of a big concert tour taking the retro-pop nation by storm and rekindling some old flames along the way.
Mayra Uribe, co-host of the Kevin Sutton Show, is one of those torch-bearers. So naturally, she’ll be there with the thousands of others who just can’t seem to let go of those good looks, choreographed moves and anthemic mass-market sound.
Uribe and others like her are gearing up to attend the Orlando concert on June 21st – that’s when the much-hyped tour with the “funny cause it’s true” name visits the gleaming Amway Center for a night that tens of thousands will never forget.
But the one-time political candidate for Orange County Commissioner and current co-host of the Kevin Sutton Show – an action sports, talk and entertainment heard Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 to 9 p.m. EST on 740 The Game (740-AM, Orlando) and via the internet on iHeartRadio – has a connection to the bands none other can claim.
Uribe was a fresh-faced high school journalist who scored blockbuster interviews with her MTV idols and had her articles run in the biggest teen magazines of the day. And it’s all coming back around again for a trip down memory lane … a top forty time machine if you will.
As part of a mammoth 41-city excursion appropriately titled “The Package Tour,” a reunited New Kids are blending with early-’90s super-group Boyz II Men and late-’90s boy-band flag flyers 98 Degrees for what can only be a night of pure pop and circumstance.
Uribe plans to be front and center through all of it. And this time she’s bringing her nine-year –old daughter Faith along for the ride.
Uribe’s Seal Of Approval
Uribe first met NKOTB 25 years ago when they came for a concert at the Tupperware Auditorium in Orlando. She loved to listen to music and dance, like most teenagers, but wanted to take her love for the band a step further. After attending the concert, she set a goal to meet the band in person.
“Thanks to my mother’s inspiration, I have always believed that if you want something, go get it. After seeing NKOTB in concert, I immediately said to myself, ‘I have to meet these guys.’ And I did,” remembers Uribe fondly.
After meeting them and grabbing all of their autographs, she started collecting dolls, albums and singles, yet Uribe’s connection with New Kids runs deeper than just the regular concertgoer or fanatical follower.
An intrepid young Uribe created opportunities that allowed her to write a few articles about New Kids in the now-defunct Superteen magazine as well as appear on Dance Party USA to talk about her experience meeting the band. It was a glorious time for Uribe, who has seemingly stayed in the spotlight ever since, whether through entertainment or politics.
Now that NKOTB are back on together and making new music, hearing about the band’s new tour conjured old memories of her days following them.
“When I was younger, I would read all about them, catch them whenever they were on television shows, and learn more about them and their interests,” reminisces Uribe.
Boyz Will Be Boyz
Just as she has deep history with New Kids, Uribe has the same connection with Philly singing group Boyz II Men, who she was originally introduced to by a long-time voice on Orlando pop radio, XL 106.7’s Johnny Magic.
Uribe has all of Boyz II Men’s music, autographs, and has attended 17 of their concerts. When the group visits Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center for the Food and Wine festival every year, Uribe is sure to grab a front row seat.
As she got older and started to develop more interests, she found a way to incorporate some of her teenage hobbies into her adult life. Once when Boyz II Men came to Orlando for a visit, she brought the group to a joint event with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Uribe is now married with a daughter, runs her own business, has run for political office and is often involved with many charitable and community events around town. She even worked for a U.S. Senator for many years, rubbing elbows with those in the highest offices in America. Not bad for a first generation American, the child of two immigrants from different countries.
You could say that Uribe has taken her mother’s advice to grab the most out of life and is still trying to wring the cloth dry.
Past, Present … Future?
But for so many of us, when pieces of our childhood resurface, it gives us an opportunity to relive those precious moments, those dreamy crushes, those unapologetic sing-alongs.
Or as Mayra and others once bitten by the Boy Band Bug call it, “the best time ever!”
“As I’ve gotten older, I am more entertained in catching their concerts whenever they’re in town and introducing my daughter and husband to the group,” admits Uribe. “Attending these concerts and keeping up with the bands reminds me of my youth and a very happy, happy time in my life.”
Come June when the Amway Center is packed with screaming fans of New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men, those seats will be filled with people who now have kids of their own who probably follow singers like Justin Bieber and bands resembling One Direction.
In fact, the last time NKOTB had a top single in the United States was in 1990, four years before The Biebs was born. That’s proof that longevity lives beyond missing band members, fading six-packs, sharp streaked hair turned silver and grey, and slower dance moves.
Fans like Mayra Uribe just want to go back to a great time in their lives, and these concerts give them a chance to do so in a fun, celebratory way. And I’m sure groups like 98 Degrees are happy to oblige as it keeps them working, relevant and financially sturdy.
As long as they can still hit a high note and dry hump a microphone stand, anyway.
For Uribe, however, it is about growing up, but not forgetting about where she came from. After all, for her the Kids and the Boyz are her extended family. And even though the New Kids are now middle-aged men, and the Boyz became Men a long time ago – everybody involved gets to turn back the hands of time.
The songs, the screams, the sweat … the overpriced merchandise. It’s the late-’80s and early-’90s all over again. Even if it’s just for an evening or two.