Bell Biv DeVoe live at Schuster

Bell Biv DeVoe (l-r) Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, Michael Bivins

By Tim Walker


By the time Christmas finally rolls around, most consumers in the Dayton area need a break. Whether it’s shopping for gifts for your loved ones or enduring the traffic, cold weather, long lines at the register, and week after week of holiday tunes everywhere you turn, even the most faithful lovers of the holiday season are ready for a change by the time we reach the end of December.

Bell Biv DeVoe (BBD) is on the way, and happy to help. Fresh from the 2017 release of “THREE STRIPES,” the band’s first album of new material in 16 years, BBD will be performing live onstage at the Schuster Center downtown on Wednesday, Dec. 27. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m., and singer and actor Demetria McKinney, best known for her starring role on the TBS sitcom, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” will open the show.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” says Ricky Bell, the “Bell” in Bell Biv DeVoe, when he spoke with the Dayton City Paper recently. “Being able to do what you love to do for a living for as long as we have. And with Bell Biv DeVoe having 25-plus-years after ‘Poison,’ we’re still rocking and rolling, and still one of the best bands on the planet.”

Founded in 1989 and having sold over 20 million albums worldwide, the R&B group Bell Biv DeVoe remains wildly popular to this day with its legions of fans. The group was one of the founders of the “New Jack Swing” sound, and its unique combination of soul, funk, hip-hop, and pop music drove hit singles like “Poison,” “Do Me!,” and “When Will I See You Smile Again?” straight to the top of the charts. The three music industry veterans who make up BBD—Ronnie DeVoe, Ricky Bell, and Michael Bivins—all hail from Boston and first performed together in the popular vocal group New Edition. The three continue to tour with that group as well.

“I think we’re better and more seasoned performers now,” continues Bell, “With what we’re giving off onstage, because we’re just a lot more comfortable onstage. I think with our fans—it’s kind of crazy, because even when these songs still play in concert, the fans react just the same as they did when the songs came out 25 years ago. When ‘Poison’ drops, and ‘Do Me!’ drops, they’re on their feet and dancing. We’ve been getting great responses, even from the new songs that we do from our latest album “THREE STRIPES,” the response has been amazing as well. People are up on their feet, they’re dancing all night, probably just as much if not even more than they were 25 years ago.”

Featuring the top ten Urban and Adult Contemporary hit “Run” as well as “Finally,” the band’s collaboration with SWV, and “I’m Betta,” produced by Kay Gee of Naughty By Nature, the “THREE STRIPES” album has sold well. Unfortunately, a successful album release in the current marketplace is markedly different than what was considered a success when the group began. Over the course of the band’s history, its members have continued to work in an industry that has undergone major changes due to digital downloading, one in which musicians have seen steadily falling album sales take a backseat to other revenue streams.“It feels like a giveaway, almost,” says Ronnie DeVoe, another founding member of the group. “It was a revenue stream, back in 1990, that you could count on. Anything less than a million sold was out of the question for Bell Biv DeVoe, of course, at that time and shortly thereafter. Now it’s just a whole other thing with streaming and file sharing and all of the above, it’s like the music is the giveaway, to be able to lure people in through all of the other revenue streams as far as merchandising or touring. It’s like shining a light on your brand, to be able to do so many other things. We kind of fell in place, and we understand it’s been years since our last project, but it won’t be 15 more—we’re actually in the studio working on our next project as we speak.”

In 1978, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, and Bobby Brown, all residents of a Boston housing project, started an R&B vocal group which eventually became New Edition. That group went on to worldwide fame, and launched the careers of R&B legends Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, and Johnny Gill, as well as Bell Biv DeVoe. All of the members of that band still continue to tour, both separately and as New Edition for various reunion tours.

The Bell Biv DeVoe concert at Schuster Center on Dec. 27 will be a night to remember for local fans, and for anyone else who is ready for a break from the holiday shopping season.

Bell Biv Devoe will perform at the Schuster Center on 1 W Second Street on Wednesday, Dec. 27, with Demetria McKinney as a special guest. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are still available. For more information, go to or call 937.228.3630.

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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