This past weekend the Steep Canyon Rangers packed up a dozen members of the Asheville Symphony and headed to Nashville to meet up with Philadelphia soul legends, Boyz II Men, for the live debut of their new joint single, Be Still Moses. While at Music City’s Schermerhorn Center they recorded the performance for a live music video to celebrate the attention the song has received across the stylistic spectrum.
Not many folks expected a bluegrass/R&B/Gospel mashup to become a 2019 hit, but fans across those genres have responded positively to the remake, which was released in August as the Steeps returned to their original label, Yep Roc Records. The concept of pairing these groups with the symphony players was the brainchild of producer Michael Selverne, and everyone jumped on board right away when he presented it. Be Still Moses, written by Steeps banjo man Graham Sharp, had originally appeared on their their Lovin’ Pretty Women album in 2007, and it gets a slightly different treatment here.
The two groups hadn’t met until this live video was shot over the weekend. For the studio recording, Selverne had the Rangers leave space for the Boyz to improvise in their own style, and they ended up adding an additional 16 lead and harmony vocal tracks to the song.
They repeated that process for the live video, and came up with something pretty special.
Both groups got started when the members were much younger men. The Steep Canyon Rangers met as students at the University of North Carolina in 2000, and Boyz II Men started singing as high schoolers in the late 1980s. They both also achieved success quickly, and have risen to the top of their respective genres, again both by embracing sounds outside of the strict limits of their musical styles.
The Steep Canyon Rangers are Woody Platt on guitar and lead vocals, Graham Sharp on banjo, Mike Guggino on mandolin, Nicky Sanders on fiddle, Michael Ashworth on percussion, and Barrett Smith on bass. Boyz II Men are Nathan Morris, Wayne Morris, and Shawn Stockman.
The single for Be Still Moses is available wherever you stream or download music online.
Look for the Steeps out on tour later this month with Steve Martin and Martin Short. Their full tour schedule can be found online.