Babyface is a Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter and vocalist known for the breadth of his work in R&B and pop music.
Kenneth (Kenny) Brian Edmonds was born on April 10, 1959, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the second eldest of six children. He took to playing the guitar in his youth and later learned keyboards, performing with the band Manchild. He'd also played with funk legend Bootsy Collins, from whom he received the nickname “Babyface.”
Forms Team With L.A. Reid
Babyface joined the 1980s group The Deele, which had several R&B hits. He and fellow musician L.A. Reid would go off from the band to become a highly successful, chart-topping songwriting/production team. The duo crafted work for the likes of The Whispers, Pebbles (whom Reid married), Karyn White, Sheena Easton and Bobby Brown, forming their own label‐LaFace Records‐in 1989.
Babyface was also working on his career as a solo vocalist, offering his debut album Lovers in 1986. Though a private man who often preferred to be out of the spotlight, he made a mark and then some with his second full-length release‐1989's Tender Lover, a double-platinum affair which featured the R&B No. 1s “It's No Crime” and the title track, as well as the Top 5 “Whip Appeal” and “My Kinda Girl.”
Prolific Producer and Writer
Babyface and Reid soared as heads of their own label, which featured a roster of acts that included Toni Braxton, Usher, Outkast, The Tony Rich Project, TLC and Pink, while their musical production work yielded a multitude of No. 1s for a variety of artists. With a flair for relationship-oriented witticism, Babyface served as writer or co-writer for acts like Boyz II Men (penning the hits “I'll Make Love to You” and “Water Runs Dry,” for instance), Madonna (“Take a Bow”) and Tevin Campbell (“Can We Talk?” and “I'm Ready”), among others.
He handled a share of the production/writing duties on the 1992 Boomerang and Bodyguard soundtracks. And, for the 1995 Waiting to Exhale soundtrack, which he produced and which featured Whitney Houston among an ensemble cast of female vocalists, he wrote nearly all of the tunes.
Babyface and then wife Tracey Edmonds also established a production company, releasing big-screen projects like Soul Food (1997) and, under the indie e2 filmworks aegis, Hav Plenty (1998) and Punks (2001).
Additional Solo Projects
Babyface had given further attention to his own solo recording projects as well, releasing 1993's For the Cool in You, a multi-platinum outing that contained the Top 5 pop hit “When Can I See You Again.” With his singles as a solo artist routinely finding a place on the pop, R&B and adult contemporary charts, Babyface's next studio effort came forth in 1996, The Day. The album showcased the Top 10 singles “This Is for the Lover in You,” featuring LL Cool J in a remake of the classic Shalamar tune, and “Every Time I Close My Eyes,” a ballad with Mariah Carey.
Returns With Toni Braxton
A multiple Grammy Award winner, Babyface received 12 nominations in 1997 alone‐seven as a songwriter, four as a producer and one as a singer‐tying with Michael Jackson (for 1993's “Thriller”) for the record of most Grammy nominations in a single year. He's won several other trophies over the years in categories like best rhythm & blues song and record of the year (Eric Clapton's “Change the World”), including successive wins for producer of the year.
After releases like Face2Face (2001), Grown & Sexy (2005) and the covers collection Playlist (2007), Babyface returned in February 2014 with Love, Marriage & Divorce, a duets album with Toni Braxton that later earned a Grammy for Best R&B Album.
In August 2016, Babyface joined Season 23's cast of Dancing With the Stars. He was partnered with professional dancer Allison Holker. He and Holker were eliminated on the fourth week of competition and finished in 11th place along with Vanilla Ice and Witney Carson.
April 10, 1959
- He is the fifth of six brothers two of whom, Melvin and Kevon Edmonds were co-founders of the R&B group, After 7.
- Edmonds started his musical career as a guitarist in the soul group Manchild with school friend Daryl Simmons, The pair have had a lasting musical collaboration. Manchild had a minor hit in 1977 with “Especially for You.”
- Edmonds also played with funk performer Bootsy Collins, who tagged him “Babyface” because of his cute face while he was still a teen.
- Reid and Edmonds co-founded LaFace Records in Atlanta in 1989. Their artists have included TLC, Usher, Toni Braxton and Pink. In 2011, LaFace was absorbed into RCA Records.