ere’s the latest in my series about the unsung heroes of pop music: the songwriters. This week I’m featuring a true legend and superstar of contemporary pop and R&B, Babyface.
Kenneth Edmonds played with the great funk master, Bootsy Collins and it was Bootsy who gave Edmonds the moniker, Babyface because of his youthful appearance. During the 1970s, Edmunds was in the American soul band, Manchild who had a minor hit with a song called Especially for You. (Not the same one as Kylie and Jason!)
Our featured composer today was born in Indianapolis in 1959 to parents, Barbara and Marvin Edmonds. After the death of his father, while he was still at school, young Kenneth, made the decision that he would make a career out of music. He was a shy child, using songwriting as a way of communicating his thoughts and emotions. He learned to play keyboards and guitar and later, through playing keyboards in the R&B band, Deele he met and formed a writing partnership with drummer, Antonio “L.A” Reid.
Babyface is one of six brothers. Three of his siblings, Melvin, Kevon and Jason, together with Keith Mitchell made up the R&B band, After 7. Although, almost unknown in UK, the band have enjoyed relative success in the States, including 12 top 20 entries and two #1 hits on the R&B singles chart.
Babyface has made his name as a songwriter and record producer, co-founding LaFace Records with Antonio Reid. During his career he has written and produced music for such names as Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, Usher, TLC & Toni Braxton.
Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Eric Clapton, Chaka Khan, Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande…..the list of stars he has worked his magic for is endless!
In the mid- 1990s, Babyface and his then wife, Tracey Edmonds ventured into the world of movies, producing the films, Josie & The Pussycats, Soul Food and the Dreamworks creation, Prince of Egypt.
Soda Pop Records was founded by Babyface in 2009, specialising in the production of Soul, R&B & New Jack Swing.
A 25-mile stretch of road running through Indianapolis, Interstate 65 was renamed Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds Highway in 1999
The list of honours and awards bestowed on Babyface is very long indeed. He has won a total of 51 BMI awards and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Eleven Grammy awards boast his name too.
Here is a short list of some of the most successful songs written by Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds:
Breathe Again – Toni Braxton
Count on Me – Whitney Houston & Ce Ce Winans
End of the Road – Boyz II Men (with L.A. Reid & Daryl Simmons)
Girlfriend – Pebbles (with L.A. Reid)
I’m Your Baby Tonight – Whitney Houston (with L.A Reid)
I’ll Make Love To You – Boyz II Men
The Lover in Me – Sheena Easton ( with L.A Reid & Daryl Simmonds)
Most Girls – Pink (with Damon Thomas)
Never Forget You – Mariah Carey ( with M Carey)
Slave to the Rhythm – Michael Jackson ( with L.A. Reid, D. Simmonds & K Robertson)
Take a Bow – Madonna (with Madonna)
Why – 3T