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Babyface (musician)

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Babyface in 2013
Kenneth Brian Edmonds

(1959-04-10) April 10, 1959 (age 65)
Other names
  • Face
  • Y Corp
EducationNorth Central High School
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active1974–present
TelevisionCollege Hill
Soul Food
(m. 1992; div. 2005)
Nicole Pantenburg
(m. 2014; div. 2021)
Musical career
Formerly of

Kenneth Brian Edmonds[1][2] (born April 10, 1959), better known by his stage name Babyface, is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He has written and produced over 26 number-one R&B hits throughout his career and has won 13 Grammy Awards. He was ranked number 20 on NME's 50 of The Greatest Producers Ever list.

Early life


Edmonds was born on April 10, 1959, in Indianapolis, Indiana,[3][4] to Marvin and Barbara Edmonds. Barbara was a production operator at a pharmaceutical plant. Edmonds, who is the fifth of six brothers (including future After 7 band members Melvin and Kevon Edmonds, the latter of whom went on to have a modestly successful solo career), attended North Central High School in Indianapolis, and as a shy youth, wrote songs to express his emotions.[5] When he was in eighth grade, Edmonds' father died of lung cancer, leaving his mother to raise her sons alone.[5]

Music career


Edmonds later met funk performer Bootsy Collins, who tagged him "Babyface" because of his youthful look. He also performed in the group Manchild (which had a 1977 hit "Especially for You" with band member Daryl Simmons) as a guitarist. He played keyboards and guitar in the light-funk and R&B group the Deele (which also included drummer Antonio "L.A." Reid, with whom he would later form a successful writing and producing partnership). One of his first major credits as a songwriter for outside artists came when he wrote the tune "Slow Jam" for the R&B band Midnight Star in 1983. The tune was on Midnight Star's 1983 double-platinum No Parking on the Dance Floor album. Babyface remained in the Deele until 1988, when both he and Reid left the group.

His album Playlist consists of eight cover songs and two original works. It was released on September 18, 2007. It was the first album on the newly re-launched Mercury Records label.[6]

On February 4, 2014, he released a Grammy Award-winning duet album with Toni Braxton titled Love, Marriage & Divorce on Motown Records.[7]

In April 2024, he announced a Las Vegas residency via an Instagram video, featuring a playful spoof of Kidman's viral AMC Theaters ad.[8]

Other ventures

Edmonds performing in 2009

Writing and producing


From the late 1980s to the early 90s, he wrote R&B and dance songs, writing and producing music for Bobby Brown ("Roni"),[9] Karyn White ("Love Saw It"), Pebbles ("Girlfriend", "Mercedes Boy"),[10] The Whispers ("Rock Steady", "In the Mood"), The Deele ("Two Occasions"),[11] Johnny Gill ("My My My"),[9] After 7 ("Ready or Not"), The Boys ("Dial My Heart"), Damian Dame ("Right Down to It") and Sheena Easton.[12][13]

In 1989, Edmonds co-founded LaFace Records with Reid.[14] Three of the label's early artists, TLC, Usher, and Toni Braxton, were very successful. TLC's second album CrazySexyCool, for which he wrote and produced some of the hits, became the best-selling album of all time by an American girl group.[15] Under his direction, TLC sold more than 60 million albums worldwide, and a combined total of 75 million records. Toni Braxton's first two albums, Toni Braxton (1993) and Secrets (1996), for which he wrote the majority of the songs, went on to sell a combined total of over 15 million copies.[16]

Babyface helped form the late-1990s R&B group Az Yet. Edmonds also helped to mold and work with some of his then-wife Tracey Edmonds' acts, such as Jon B and producer Jon-John Robinson.[17]

"I'm Your Baby Tonight" (1990), produced for Whitney Houston, was Edmonds' first No. 1 Top 40 hit in the US. He also wrote and produced Boyz II Men's 1992 "End of the Road" and 1994 "I'll Make Love to You", both of which established records for the longest stay at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[18] He co-wrote, co-produced, and provided backing vocals on Madonna's 1994 Bedtime Stories, which featured the seven-week No. 1 hit "Take a Bow", and shared billing with Eric Clapton on the chart-topping Grammy winner "Change the World" from the Phenomenon soundtrack.[19] He also wrote and produced the No. 1 hit "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" for Houston as well as the rest of the 10 million-selling Waiting to Exhale soundtrack in 1995, which spawned additional hits for Houston, Brandy and Mary J. Blige.[citation needed]

Edmonds has produced and written music for Bobby Brown, The Whispers, Pebbles, After 7, Johnny Gill, Deele, Karyn White, The Boys, Damian Dame, Tevin Campbell, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Faith Evans, Beyoncé, Diana Ross, Sheena Easton, Toni Braxton, Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton, Paula Abdul, Eric Clapton ("Change the World"), Whitney Houston, Brandy, Mary J. Blige, Tamia, Shola Ama, 3T, Sisqó, Dru Hill, Fall Out Boy, Céline Dion, Samantha Jade, Backstreet Boys, Honeyz, Katharine McPhee, Mariah Carey, Vanessa L. Williams, Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson, Chanté Moore, En Vogue, Zendaya, Kenny G, Kristinia DeBarge, Lil Wayne, Kevin Abstract, P!nk, Marc Nelson, TLC, Ariana Grande, Jessica Mauboy, Xscape, K-Ci & JoJo, NSYNC, Jordin Sparks and Phil Collins.[citation needed] He received three consecutive Grammy Awards for Producer of the Year from 1995 to 1997.[20]

Babyface was in the studio for about two years with Ashanti to produce her album The Declaration (2008).[21]

He worked on the Lil Wayne album Tha Carter III (2008), on the Kanye West-produced "Comfortable".[citation needed] He also worked with R&B singer Monica for her sixth studio album Still Standing (2010).[citation needed]

In 2013, Babyface served as producer for Ariana Grande's debut album Yours Truly, producing the majority of her songs, including her second single, "Baby I".[citation needed]

In September 2014, Babyface collaborated with Barbra Streisand on her album Partners, performing a duet on the track "Evergreen" and background vocals for other album tracks.[citation needed]

Babyface also collaborated with Foxes on her second album, All I Need (2016), producing and co-writing "Scar".[citation needed]

In July 2016, Babyface along with Bruce Roberts and Carole Bayer Sager helped write the song "Stronger Together" sung by Jessica Sanchez.[22] The song was played after Hillary Clinton's speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The song's title is named after the slogan that the Clinton campaign used as a show of uniting behind the Democratic nominee. The song was one of the top trending songs on Shazam that week.[23] The song was widely perceived as positive by the listeners, and received praise by celebrities like Jennifer Lopez[24] and Kim Kardashian.[25]



In 1994, he appeared and performed on an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210, entitled "Mr. Walsh Goes to Washington (Part 2)".[citation needed]

In the mid-1990s, Edmonds and his then-wife Tracey Edmonds expanded into the business of motion pictures. Upon setting up Edmonds Entertainment Group, the company producing the films Soul Food (1997), Josie and the Pussycats (2001), and also the soundtrack for the film The Prince of Egypt (1998), which included contributions from numerous artists, including Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.[citation needed] They also executive produced the BET reality series College Hill (2004-2009).[citation needed] Edmonds also worked with David Foster to compose "The Power of the Dream", the official song of the 1996 Summer Olympics, performed by superstar Céline Dion. Linda Thompson provided the lyrics.[citation needed]

Babyface also participated as a duet partner on the Fox reality show Celebrity Duets (2006).[citation needed]

He was portrayed by Wesley Jonathan in the 2015 Lifetime biopic Whitney and is portrayed by actor Gavin Houston in the Lifetime biopic based on Toni Braxton entitled Un-Break My Heart, which premiered on the network in early 2016.[26]

In 2016, Babyface competed on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars. He was partnered with professional dancer Allison Holker.[27] He and Holker were eliminated on the fourth week of competition and finished in 11th place along with Vanilla Ice and Witney Carson.[28]

Soda Pop Records


Edmonds founded his record label Soda Pop Records in 2009. Since founding the label he has signed R&B icons K-Ci & JoJo, releasing their first album for the label entitled My Brother's Keeper. In 2013 Babyface secured a distribution deal with E1 Music for the label.[citation needed]

Personal life


In 2007, Babyface began dating his backup dancer Nicole "Nikki" Pantenburg (former backup dancer for and personal friend of Janet Jackson). Babyface and Pantenburg have a daughter, Peyton, born in 2008.[29] The pair married on May 17, 2014. In July 2021, they announced that their marriage would be ending after seven years.[30]



In 1999, a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of Interstate 65 that runs through Indianapolis was renamed the Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds Highway.[31]

Babyface was placed at number 20 on NME's "50 of the Greatest Producers Ever" list. NME wrote of his impact:

One of the founding fathers of all the best bits of modern US R&B. And so you can't hate him if some of the schlock can be traced back to him also. Babyface was a pioneer of New Jack Swing in the 80s, before setting up LaFace with old mucker Antonio 'LA' Reid to give the world TLC, Usher and Toni Braxton under their guiding hand. There's barely a prominent artist in the genre he hasn't worked with, and as a result he's clocked up a mammoth 26 R&B number ones.[32]



Studio albums


Collaboration albums




In 1999, Babyface received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement presented by Awards Council member Coretta Scott King at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.[34]

On August 30, 2006, Babyface was honored as a BMI Icon at the 6th annual BMI Urban Awards.[35] Throughout his career, Babyface has won the BMI Pop Songwriter of the Year trophy 7 times, and a total of 51 BMI Awards, which includes Song of the Year for his Toni Braxton hit, "Breathe Again", in 1994.[36]

Babyface was honored with the 2,508th star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 10, 2013. The star is located at 6270 Hollywood Boulevard.[37]

On October 18, 2018, he was conferred with an honorary doctorate degree from Indiana University Bloomington in recognition of his illustrious career in music.[38]

Grammy Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
1989 Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) Nominated
"Don't Be Cruel" Best R&B Song Nominated
1990 "Every Little Step" Nominated
"Superwoman" Nominated
"It's No Crime" Best R&B Instrumental Performance Nominated
Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) Nominated
1991 "Whip Appeal" Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male Nominated
"My, My, My" Best R&B Song Nominated
1993 "End of the Road" Won
Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) Won
1994 The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album (as a Producer) Album of the Year Won
"For the Cool in You" Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male Nominated
"Can We Talk" Best R&B Song Nominated
1995 "When Can I See You" Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Won
Best R&B Song Nominated
"You Mean the World to Me" Nominated
"I'll Make Love to You" Won
Record of the Year Nominated
1996 Producer of the Year Won
"Someone to Love" (with Jon B.) Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
"Someone to Love" Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
"Red Light Special" Best R&B Song Nominated
"You Can't Run" Nominated
1997 "Sittin' up in My Room" Nominated
"You're Makin' Me High" Nominated
"Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" Won
Song of the Year Nominated
Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
"It Hurts Like Hell" Nominated
"Count On Me" Nominated
"Change The World" (as a Producer) Record of the Year Won
"Slow Jams" Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Nominated
Producer of the Year Won
Secrets Best Pop Album Nominated
Waiting to Exhale: Original Soundtrack Album Album of the Year Nominated
1998 The Day Nominated
Best R&B Album Nominated
"Every Time I Close My Eyes" Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical Won
"A Song for Mama" Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
"I Care 'Bout You" Best Short Form Music Video Nominated
"How Come, How Long" (feat. Stevie Wonder) Nominated
Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
1999 "How Come, How Long" (Live) (feat. Stevie Wonder) Nominated
2000 "When You Believe" Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Nominated
FanMail Album of the Year Nominated
2009 Tha Carter III (as a Featured artist) Nominated
2013 "Pray For Me" Best R&B Song Nominated
2015 Love, Marriage & Divorce (with Toni Braxton) Best R&B Album Won
2016 "Let It Burn" Best R&B Song Nominated
2021 Trustee Won
2023 "Keeps on Fallin'" (with Ella Mai) Best Traditional R&B Performance Nominated[39]
2024 "Simple" (with Coco Jones) Nominated[40]
Girls Night Out Best R&B Album Nominated[40]
"Snooze" (as songwriter) Best R&B Song Won[40]


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  9. ^ a b Stafford, Leon (September 21, 2023). "Babyface, Stokley bring decades of hits to Stockbridge Amphitheater". ajc.com. Archived from the original on November 30, 2023.
  10. ^ "Mercedes Boy - Pebbles | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
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  18. ^ Trust, Gary (August 15, 2022). "Chart Rewind: In 1992, Boyz II Men Took the High 'Road' on the Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved June 27, 2024.
  19. ^ Jisipublished, Chris (November 14, 2023). ""I knew Eric was going to put his guitar on later, so the bass fills were like telegraphed messages": Listen to Nathan East's fill-laden bassline on Eric Clapton's Change the World". guitarworld. Retrieved July 13, 2024.
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  21. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
  22. ^ Elizabeth, De (August 2016). "You Can Now Download Hillary Clinton's Official Campaign Anthem". Teenvogue.com. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  23. ^ "Top trending Shazams this wk: @DJKhaled, @TheChainsmokers ft @Halsey, @KennyChesney & @JessicaESanchez. #MusicMondaypic.twitter.com/jK7FRIL9MV". Twitter. August 1, 2016.
  24. ^ Lopez, Jennifer (July 27, 2016). "the message in @JessicaESanchez new unity anthem "Stronger Together" 4 @HillaryClinton & the #DNC #ImWithHer". Twitter.
  25. ^ West, Kim Kardashian (July 27, 2016). "This is such a powerful, positive message! We are "Stronger Together." @CaroleBSager #DNC". Twitter.
  26. ^ Whitney Friedlander (October 6, 2015). "Toni Braxton's 'Un-Break My Heart' Lifetime Movie Gets Full Cast". Variety. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
  27. ^ "'DWTS' 2016 Celebrity Cast Revealed: Ryan Lochte, Amber Rose, Rick Perry Among Star Lineup". Good Morning America: Yahoo. August 30, 2016. Archived from the original on August 30, 2016. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  28. ^ "'Dancing with the Stars' Results Live Blog: 2 Go Home in a Double Elimination". buddytv.com. October 4, 2016. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
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  30. ^ "Kenny 'Babyface' Edmonds and Wife Nicole Pantenburg Ending Their Marriage After 7 Years". People.com. Retrieved September 7, 2021.
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  33. ^ Mier, Tomás (June 28, 2022). "Babyface Announces 'Girls' Night Out' LP Featuring Kehlani, Ella Mai, Others". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
  34. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". Achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
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  39. ^ "2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See the Complete Winners & Nominees List". Grammy.com.
  40. ^ a b c "2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List". Grammy.com.