For the Cool in You
“Initially I wanted to be Muhammed Ali. But then I got into a fight and I got my butt kicked, so I figured I could choose something else.” Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds
Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds is a flourishing African-American R&B and pop singer, songwriter, keyboardist, guitarist, record producer, film producer, and entrepreneur. Three-time Grammy Award-winning for Producer of the Year, he is well-known for producing and writing music for many popular artists like Celine Dion, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, Brandy, Vanessa L. Williams, Eric Clapton, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Phil Collins and Pink, among others. “End of the Road,” a No. 1 hit he wrote and produced for Boyz II Men, and “Exhale (Shoop Shoop),” performed by Whitney Houston, won BMI Film Music Awards in 1993 and 1996, respectively. Though mainly noted as the man behind the tremendous success of others, Edmonds is also a solo performer. Making his solo debut with 1987's “Lovers,” he has since launched 8 more albums, most notably the triple-platinum hit “For the Cool in You” (1993) and the double-platinum albums “Tender Lover” (1989) and “The Day” (1996). His new album, “Playlist,” hit the music stores in September 2007.
Under Edmonds Entertainment, a film production company he founded in the mid-1990s with then-wife Tracey, Edmonds has lent his producing talents for such projects as the award-winning “Soul Food” (1997), “Hav Plenty” (1998) and “Josie and the Pussycats” (2001). He also served as an executive producer and composed the themes for the TV series adaptation “Soul Food” (Showtime, 2000-2004). Currently, Edmonds is the executive producer of the reality TV series “Blackstage” (2007).
As for his personal life, Edmonds and his ex-wife, film producer Tracey (married in 1992, separated in 2005), have two sons together. Edmonds' married life was once linked to a woman named Denise, whom he married in 1980.
Childhood and Family:
Kenneth Brian Edmonds was born on April 10, 1958, in Indianapolis, Indiana. His father died of lung cancer in 1972, when he was 13 years old. A shy youth, Kenneth expressed his emotions by writing songs. The youngest of six brothers, he had his first taste of performing in front of the public at an early age, when he played with his brother's bands at a high school dance. Kenneth graduated from North Central High School in Indianapolis in 1976.
In 1980, Kenneth married first wife Denise, though the bond later ended in separation. He tried to build a new family by marrying Tracey E Edmonds on September 5, 1992. She is the President of Yab Yum Entertainment and partnered with Kenneth in “Edmonds Entertainment,” which was formed in the mid-1990s. In October 2005, after having been together for 13 years, the couple proclaimed that they were splitting up. The divorce was finalized on June 22, 2007. Kenneth and Tracey have two sons, Brandon Edmonds (born in August 1996) and Dylan Michael Edmonds (born on March 26, 2001).
Kenneth earned the nickname “Babyface” from funk superstar Bootsy Collins, when he was a teenager.
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds developed a love for song writing at an early age, which he saw as a way to express his feelings. Along with his brothers' band, young Edmonds made his first public appearance in a high school dance. Later, he played with funk megastar Bootsy Collins, who gave him the nickname “Babyface,” and after graduating from high school, he joined the groups Tarnished Silver, Manchild, Crowd Pleaser, April, and The Deele. With the light-funk and R&B group The Deele, Edmonds enjoyed some success in the 1980s.
It was in 1983 when Edmonds for the first time received major credit as a songwriter for other artists. He co-penned the tune “Slow Jam” for the R&B band Midnight Star, which was included in Midnight Star's double-platinum “No Parking On the Dance Floor” album. Although the song never broke the charts, it has since become a quiet storm staple and a semi-classic of the genre. Four years later, Edmonds made his debut as a solo performer with the release of “Lovers,” his solo debut album, on Solar Records. He stayed in The Deele until 1988, when both Edmonds and drummer L.A Reid left the group.
Together with Reid, Edmonds established the Atlanta-based record label LaFace Records in 1989. Previously having worked together in producing music for such successful artists as Bobby Brown, Karyn White, Paula Abdul and Pebbles, the duo gained huge commercial victory with two of the label's first artists, Tony Braxton and TLC. Braxton's self-titled debut album in 1993 sold more than eight million copies and won the singer a 1994 Grammy for Best New Artist, while TLC's albums, “Ooooooohhh.... On the TLC Tip” (1992) and “CrazySexyCool” (1994), received a total of over 15 million copies in sales. The latter album earned the group a Grammy in 1996 for Best R&B Album.
The same year Edmonds started La Face, he released his second solo album, “Tender Love,” on July 1989. The album reached No. 1 on the R&B charts and went on to receive double platinum certification. After the release of “A Closer Look” (1991), the multi-talented artist scored a massive commercial hit with the 1993 album “For the Cool in You,” which was certified triple-platinum by RIAA. The album marked Edmond's most successful album to date. The double-platinum “The Day” (No. 6 US, No. 4 R&B) and “Christmas with Babyface” (No.101 US, No. 34 R&B), followed in 1996 and 1998, respectively.
Throughout the 1990s, Edmonds continued to produce music for other artists and scored success with “I'm Your Baby,” created for Whitney Houston, which became his first No. 1 hit in the United States. He also produced and penned the songs “End of the Road” and “I'll Make Love To You” for Boyz II Men, which both set records for the longest stay at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “End of the Road,” a soundtrack for 1992's “Boomerang,” also won him a 1993 BMI for Most Performed Song from a Film. 1995 saw Edmonds co-write, co-produce and sing backup on Madonna's Top 10 hit “Take a Bow” The same year, he also penned and produced the No. 1 hit “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” for Whitney Houston. “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” won Edmonds his next BMI Film Music award in 1996. Other notable work included producing the Grammy-winning single “Change the World” for Eric Clapton and the Grammy nominated hit “When You Believe” from the 1998 film “The Prince of Egypt,” which was performed by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.
Already popular in the music industry, Edmonds tried his hand at producing motion pictures by founding the production company Edmonds Entertainment with his wife Tracey in the mid-1990s. He made his debut as a movie executive producer with 1997's “Soul Food,” starring Vanessa Williams and Vivica A. Fox. The film won several awards and nominations, including a 1998 Grammy nomination for Edmonds in the category of Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television for the song “A Song for Mama.” Edmonds also appeared in the movie as Band Member #1. It was followed by “Hav Plenty” in 1998 and “Light It Up,” a vehicle for Usher Raymond, in 1999.
Entering the new millennium, Edmonds launched his career as a TV producer with the Showtime series adaptation of “Soul Food,” which ran from 2000 to 2004. He was nominated for a 2001 Emmy Award for composing the show's theme music with Al Green. The next year, he returned to film producing with 2001's “Josie and the Pussycats,” a comedy/music starring Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, Rosario Dawson and Alan Cumming. Also in 2001, Edmonds released an album called “Face2Face.” It peaked at No. 25 on the U.S. and No. 8 on R&B charts.
Following the release of “Grown & Sexy” album in 2005, Edmonds returned to his studio for his new album “Playlist,” which was launched on September 8, 2007, on Island Records. It comprises of eight cover songs, which includes Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer,” Jim Croce's “Time In A Bottle,” Dave Loggin's “Please Come To Boston,” Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” Bread's “Diary,” Eric Clapton's “Wonderful Tonight” and James Taylor’s “Fire & Rain” and “Shower The People,” and two new singles called “Not Going Nowhere” and “The Soldier Song.”
As a TV producer, Edmonds currently works on the new reality TV series “Blackstage,” which debuted in 2007.
ASCAP: Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures, “The Prince of Egypt,” 2000
Image: Special Award, Entertainer of the Year, 1998
BMI Film & TV: Special Recognition, 1997
BMI Film Music: “Waiting to Exhale,” 1996
BMI Film Music: Most Performed Song from a Film, “Waiting to Exhale,” For the song “Exhale (Shoop Shoop),” 1996
Grammy: Producer of the Year, 1995, 1996, 1997
BMI Film Music: Most Performed Song from a Film, “Boomerang,” For the song “End Of The Road,” 1993
BMI Film Music: Most Performed Song from a Film, “Ghostbusters II,” For the song “On Our Own,” 1990