Only a handful of record producers have produced as many artists as
Babyface, but few -- if any -- have also enjoyed a successful career as
a recording artist.
Soul singer Babyface, who has scored with such hits as "When can I see You," has also
produced, or written, records for such music giants as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder,
Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, George Michael, Michael Bolton, Kenny
Loggins and the Jacksons.
Babyface was born Kenneth Edmonds 40 years ago today in Indianapolis. His first music
venture was with the '70s funk group Manchild. Edmonds then sang and played guitar in
the R&B band Deele, where he met drummer Antonio "L.A." Reid.
Edmonds and Reid soon became the successful producing team of L.A. Reid and
Babyface; their first production was Deele's Material Thangz. The two had a #4
smash with Deele's "Two Occasions."
The records produced by Reid and Babyface -- nicknamed by Bootsy Collins during the
late '80s -- were early examples of the burgeoning New Jack Swing. Acts they worked
with included Paula Abdul, Pebbles, Boyz II Men and the Whispers.
In 1989, the pair formed LaFace Records in Atlanta, which became a mecca for R&B
recording artists. Babyface's Grammy Awards then began to pour in. In 1992 he won two
Grammys: for non-classical producer of the year (with Reid; they tied with Daniel Lanois
and Brian Eno) and songwriting (which he shared with Reid and Daryl Simmons for
composing Boyz II Men's "End of the Road"). Three years later Babyface got another
Grammy for writing the Boyz hit "I'll Make Love to You."
In the meantime Babyface started his solo singing career with 1987's Lovers. He
had a top-10 pop/#1 R&B hit with "Ain't no Crime" from his 1989 double-platinum
Tender Lover, which also contained the smash "Whip Appeal."
Babyface and Reid soon began to differ creatively and increasingly worked separately.
The top-five "When can I see You," from For the Cool in You, won Babyface the
1995 Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal.
Since he parted ways with Reid, Babyface's success has grown -- mainly as a producer.
He played a major role in the success of soundtracks to the movies "The Bodyguard" and
"Waiting to Exhale." In 1996, '97 and '98, he won the Grammy for Producer of the Year
(non-classical). Also in '97, Babyface was awarded a Grammy for writing "Exhale
(Shoop, Shoop)" for Houston and for producing the record of the year, Eric Clapton's
Last year he issued Christmas with Babyface as such younger, sophisticated soul
crooners as R. Kelly began to follow his singing formula to big success.
Babyface is currently working on records for Garth Brooks, Michael Jackson, Toni
Braxton, Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige and his brother Kevon Edmonds.
Other birthdays: Bobbie Smith (Spinners), 63; Bunny Livingstone (Wailers), 52; Terre
Roche (Roches), 46; Steven Gustafson (10,000 Maniacs), 42; Afrika Bambaataa, 39;
Shinehead, 37; Reni (Stone Roses), 35; Tim "Herb" Alexander (Primus), 34; Malik
"Phife-Dawg" Taylor (A Tribe Called Quest), 29; and Nate Nelson (Flamingos),