Babyface (musician)

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Edmonds in May 2013
Background information
Birth name Kenneth Brian Edmonds
Born (1959-04-10) April 10, 1959 (age 56)
Origin Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Genres R&B, soul, new jack swing, soft rock, hip hop soul, pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, record producer, film producer, entrepreneur
Instruments Vocals, guitar, keyboards, mandolin
Years active 1976–present
Labels Chi Sound, Solar, Epic, Arista, Mercury, Motown, Def Jam
Associated acts Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston, The Deele, Az Yet, Manchild, TLC, After 7, Jon B., Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Boyz II Men

Babyface (born Kenneth Brian Edmonds;[1][2] April 10, 1959) is an American R&B musician, singer-songwriter, and record producer. He has written and produced over 26 No. 1 R&B hits throughout his career, and has won 11 Grammy Awards.

Early life[edit]

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, Indiana, 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] At this stage, Edmonds became determined to have a career in music.[3]

Music career[edit]

Edmonds later played with funk performer Bootsy Collins, who tagged him "Babyface" because of his youthful look. He also performed in the group Manchild (which had a 1976 hit "Especially for You" with band member Daryl Simmons), as he was a guitarist for the band. Then, as a keyboardist 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 double-platinum No Parking on the Dance Floor album, and while it never was a single, it received massive radio airplay and the song is still played on quiet storm radio stations. 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 Awards winning duets album with Toni Braxton titled Love, Marriage & Divorce on Motown Records.[7]

Other ventures[edit]

Writing and producing[edit]

In the late 1980s, he contributed to the creation of new jack swing, writing and producing music for the likes of Bobby Brown, Karyn White, Pebbles, Paula Abdul and Sheena Easton.

In 1989, Edmonds co-founded LaFace Records with Reid. Three of the label's early artists TLC, Usher, and Toni Braxton were very successful. TLC's second album CrazySexyCool, of which he wrote and produced some of the hits became the best selling album of all time by an American girl group. Toni Braxton's first two albums, Toni Braxton and Secrets of which he wrote the majority of the songs, went on to sell a combined total of over 10 million copies in America alone.

Babyface helped form the popular late-90s R&B group Az Yet. Edmonds also helped to mold and work closely with some of his former wife Tracey Edmonds acts such as Jon B and producer Jon-John Robinson.

Edmonds works with many successful performers in contemporary music. “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” produced for Whitney Houston, was his first No. 1 Top 40 hit in the US. He also wrote and produced Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" and "I'll Make Love to You," both of which established records for the longest stay at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He co-wrote, co-produced, and provided backing vocals on Madonna's 1994 Bedtime Stories, which featured the 7-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. He also wrote and produced the No. 1 hit "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" for Whitney Houston as well as the rest of the critically acclaimed 10 million selling Waiting to Exhale soundtrack in 1995, which spawned additional hits for Houston, Brandy and Mary J. Blige.

Additionally, Edmonds has produced and written music for many artists including Carole King, Jessica Mauboy, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Faith Evans, Al Green, Beyoncé, Diana Ross, Sheena Easton, Toni Braxton, Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton, Paula Abdul, Eric Clapton, Pebbles, Tevin Campbell, Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, Brandy, Mary J. Blige, Tamia, Shola Ama, 3T, Sisqó, Dru Hill, Fall Out Boy, Céline Dion, Samantha Jade, Honeyz, Katharine McPhee, Mariah Carey, Vanessa L. Williams, Chanté Moore, En Vogue, Kenny G, Kristinia DeBarge, Lil Wayne, Japanese singer Ken Hirai, P!nk, Colbie Caillat, Marc Nelson, TLC, Ariana Grande, Ella Henderson, Jessica Mauboy, Xscape, K-Ci & JoJo, N'SYNC and Phil Collins among others. He received three consecutive Grammy Awards for Producer of the Year in 1995–1997.

Babyface was in the studio for about two years with Ashanti to produce her album The Declaration.[8]

He worked on the Lil Wayne album Tha Carter III, on the Kanye West-produced "Comfortable." He also worked with R&B singer Monica for her sixth studio album Still Standing.

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

In September 2014, Babyface served as collaborator for Barbra Streisand's album Partners, performing duet for "Evergreen" track and background vocals for other album tracks.

Babyface also collaborated with Foxes on her sophomore album, All I Need, producing and co-writing the tenth track on the album, "Scar".

Acting career and film producing[edit]

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

In the mid-1990s, Edmonds and his then wife Tracey Edmonds expanded into the business of motion pictures, setting up Edmonds Entertainment Group and producing films such as Soul Food (1997), Josie and the Pussycats (2001), and also the soundtrack for the film The Prince of Egypt, which included contributions from numerous artists, including Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. They also executive produced the BET reality series College Hill. 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.

Babyface also participated as a duet partner on the Fox reality show Celebrity Duets.

He was portrayed by Wesley Jonathan in the 2015 Lifetime biopic Whitney and will be portrayed by actor Gavin Houston in the upcoming Lifetime biopic based on Toni Braxton entitled Un-Break My Heart, which is set to premiere on the network in early 2016.[9]

Soda Pop Records[edit]

Soda Pop Records
Founded 2009
Founder Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds (CEO)
Status Active
Distributor(s) E1 Music
Genre R&B, soul, new jack swing
Country of origin United States

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.

Current artists
Edmonds performing in 2009

Personal life[edit]

Babyface married his first wife during his young adult years. Later on, in 1990, Babyface met Tracey Edmonds when she auditioned for the music video "Whip Appeal". They married on September 5, 1992 and they have two sons, Brandon and Dylan Michael. In January 7, 2005, Tracey filed for divorce in Los Angeles County Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. In October 2005, Babyface and Tracey finally announced that they were ending their marriage of thirteen years.

In 2007, Babyface began dating his backup dancer Nicole "Nikki" Pantenburg (former dancer and personal friend of Janet Jackson). In September 2008, Babyface and Nicole welcomed a daughter, Peyton Nicole Edmonds.[10] The pair married on May 17, 2014.

On December 2, 2012, Babyface worked at a local Nathan's for charity. All proceeds went to Toys for Tots.

In 2015, Babyface donated money to the presidential campaign of Republican Senator Marco Rubio.[11]


In 1999, a 25-mile (40-km) stretch of Interstate 65 that runs through Indianapolis was renamed Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds Highway.[12]


Main article: Babyface discography

Group albums

with Manchild
with the Deele

Solo albums

Collaboration albums


On August 30, 2006, Babyface was honored as a BMI Icon at the 6th annual BMI Urban Awards.[14] Throughout his career, Babyface has won the BMI Pop Songwriter of the Year trophy seven times and a total of 51 BMI Awards, which includes Song of the Year for his Toni Braxton hit, "Breathe Again," in 1994.[15]

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.[16]

In November 2015 Babyface was honoured with the Soul Train Legend Award

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
1989 "Don't Be Cruel" Best Rhythm & Blues Song Nominated
Himself Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) Nominated
1990 "Every Little Step" Best Rhythm & Blues Song Nominated
"Superwoman" Nominated
"It's No Crime" Best R&B Instrumental Performance Nominated
Himself Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) Nominated
1991 "Whip Appeal" Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male Nominated
"My, My, My" Best Rhythm & Blues Song Nominated
1993 "End of the Road" Best Rhythm & Blues Song Won
Himself Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) Nominated
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 Rhythm & Blues Song Nominated
1995 "When Can I See You" Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Won
Best Rhythm & Blues Song Nominated
"I'll Make Love to You" Won
"You Mean the World to Me" Nominated
1996 Himself Producer of the Year Won
"Someone to Love" (with Jon B.) Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
"Red Light Special" Best Rhythm & Blues Song Nominated
"You Can't Run" Nominated
1997 "Change The World" (as a Producer) Record of the Year Won
"Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" Song of the Year Nominated
Best Rhythm & Blues Song Won
"Sittin' up in My Room" Nominated
"You're Makin' Me High" Nominated
"Slow Jams" Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Nominated
Himself Producer of the Year Won
1998 The Day Album of the Year Nominated
Best R&B Album Nominated
"Every Time I Close My Eyes" Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
Himself Producer of the Year, Non-Classical Won
"How Come, How Long" (feat. Stevie Wonder) Best Short Form Music Video Nominated
1999 Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
2013 "Pray For Me" Best Rhythm & Blues Song Nominated
2014 "Girl on Fire" Best Contemporary R&B Album Won
2015 "Love, Marriage & Divorce" (with Toni Braxton) Best R&B Album Won
2016 "Let It Burn" Best Rhythm & Blues Song Pending

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Babyface - Biography". A&E Television Networks, LLC. Retrieved 2015-04-15. 
  2. ^ "Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds - Topics". Black Entertainment Television, LLC. Retrieved 2015-04-15. 
  3. ^ a b Simon Glickman and Kelly Winters. "Babyface Biography". musicianguide. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2011. 
  4. ^ Steve Huey. "Babyface Biography". allmusic. Retrieved May 10, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Babyface Biography". AskMen. Retrieved May 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Babyface official website on Island Records". Island Records. January 20, 2007. Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Love, Marriage & Divorce – Babyface,Toni Braxton | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  8. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  9. ^ Whitney Friedlander (2015-10-06). "Toni Braxton’s ‘Un-Break My Heart’ Lifetime Movie Gets Full Cast". Variety. Retrieved 2016-01-06. 
  10. ^ Wihlborg, Ulrica (September 26, 2008). "Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds Is a New Dad! – Babies, Kenneth \Babyface\ Edmonds". Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Babyface Biography". Perfect People. Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Hitmakers Babyface and L.A. Reid To Be Honored as BMI Icons at 6th Annual Urban Awards". Retrieved September 27, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Talent, Timing Put Babyface on Top". Retrieved September 27, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Babyface lands star on Hollywood Walk of Fame". September 30, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 

External links[edit]