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Babyface

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Biography

As a singer, producer, and songwriter, Babyface was an inescapable presence in virtually every major facet of pop music during the '90s. His own recordings helped rejuvenate the R&B tradition of the smooth, sensitive, urban crooner and made him a staple of urban contemporary radio. Yet their considerable success was eclipsed by his songwriting and production work for other artists, which linked him with some of the biggest stars and hit singles of the decade (and not just in the realm of R&B). You'd be hard-pressed to name a '90s hitmaker with a track record more consistently successful and versatile than Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds. Kenneth Edmonds was born April 10, 1959, in Indianapolis and began playing in local R&B bands as a teenager. He served a stint in Bootsy Collins' backing unit (where he earned his nickname) and subsequently joined the funk outfit Manchild, who signed a record deal in 1977 and released three albums. After their breakup, Babyface and partner Antonio "L.A." Reid formed an urban funk group called the Deele in the early '80s, who scored a few sizable hits on the R&B charts. Babyface and Reid began producing and writing for other artists on the side, landing hits in Pebbles' "Girlfriend" and the Whispers' "Rock Steady"; following the Deele's third album in 1988, the duo left to continue their outside activities full-time, co-founding the LaFace label in 1989. Further hits followed in Bobby Brown's "Every Little Step," Sheena Easton's "The Lover in Me," and Karyn White's "The Way You Love Me" and "Superwoman," all of which performed well on both the pop and R&B charts. Babyface had actually recorded a little-noticed solo album in 1986, titled Lovers, but with his newfound success having marked him as one to watch, his solo career now began in earnest. Released in 1989, Tender Lover caught fire, spinning off four singles over the next year, including the R&B chart smashes "It's No Crime" (number one) and "Whip Appeal" (number two; both also reached the pop Top Ten); the album also went double platinum. Now firmly established as a powerhouse, Babyface went on to co-write hits for Johnny Gill ("My, My, My," nominated for the Best R&B Song Grammy), Whitney Houston ("I'm Your Baby Tonight"), and Madonna ("Take a Bow"); his biggest success, however, came with Boyz II Men, whose recording of "End of the Road" became one of the longest-running number ones in pop history (the Babyface-penned follow-up "I'll Make Love to You" was also pretty successful in its own right). He was co-nominated for an Album of the Year Grammy for his production on the Bodyguard soundtrack and went on to work with artists like Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, En Vogue, and Mary J. Blige. As if that weren't enough, LaFace had become a highly successful and lucrative imprint, breaking artists like Toni Braxton, TLC, OutKast, and Usher (often with input from Reid and Babyface). It's no wonder Babyface wound up taking a break from his own career as a singer during the early '90s, releasing only a remix album, A Closer Look, in 1991. The proper follow-up to Tender Lover didn't appear until 1993; even so, For the Cool in You was an even bigger hit than its predecessor, going triple platinum and producing Babyface's first Top Five pop hit, the change-of-pace acoustic guitar ballad "When Can I See You Again" (which won him his first Grammy as a performer for Best Male R&B Vocal). In 1995, he scored another major success with the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack, not only producing it but scoring the film itself and writing nearly all of its songs, including the Whitney Houston smash "Exhale (Shoop, Shoop)." The same year, he won the first of three consecutive Grammys as Producer of the Year. Successes just kept coming in 1996; the guest-laden album The Day spawned another Top Ten pop/R&B hit in "Every Time I Close My Eyes," and he solidified his crossover credentials once and for all by winning a Grammy for Record of the Year as producer of Eric Clapton's "Change the World." Encouraged by the success of Waiting to Exhale, Babyface and his wife, Tracey Edmonds, formed their own film production company, which debuted in 1997 with the acclaimed urban family comedy/drama Soul Food. Babyface, naturally, masterminded the soundtrack. The next year, he contributed lyrics to the animated musical The Prince of Egypt, which went uncredited on the soundtrack album. With the movies taking up more of his time, his next musical releases were quick one-offs: an MTV Unplugged album in 1997 and the seasonal Christmas with Babyface the next year. His production and songwriting activities continued, though he remained silent as a performer for a few years. In 2000, Epic released the best-of compilation A Collection of His Greatest Hits, marking the end of his tenure with the label; he had elected to move to Arista, where L.A. Reid had been a high-ranking executive. In 2001, Babyface released a new album, Face2Face, and also produced the punk-pop soundtrack for the film Josie & the Pussycats. The back-to-basics Grown & Sexy came in July 2005, also the year he and Tracey Edmonds announced their divorce. September 2007 brought the covers-oriented Playlist for Mercury. During the next several years, he worked with the likes of Lil Wayne, Vanessa Williams, Whitney Houston, Kristinia DeBarge, and Boyz II Men, as well as Anthony Hamilton, whose "Pray for Me" was nominated for a 2013 Grammy in the category of Best R&B Song. He co-wrote and co-produced several songs on Ariana Grande's Yours Truly, a number one album in the U.S. Love, Marriage & Divorce, an album of duets with Braxton, was released on Motown in February 2014. It debuted at number four and won a Grammy for Best R&B Album. Near the end of the following year, Babyface released Return of the Tender Lover (titled in reference to his second solo album), inspired by the "feel good" performing approach of touring partners Charlie Wilson and Maze. ~ Steve Huey
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   When Can I See You
  3.   Whip Appeal
  4.   Every Time I Close My Eyes
  5.   Sleigh Ride
  6.   Soon as I Get Home
  7.   Never Keeping Secrets
  8.   It's No Crime
  9.   White Christmas
  10.   Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  11.   It Came Upon a Midnight Clear/The First Noel
  12.   Exceptional
  13.   We've Got Love
  14.   I Love You Babe
  15.   And Our Feelings
  16.   Sunshine
  17.   I'll Make Love to You
  18.   This Is for the Lover in You
  19.   You Were There
  20.   Given a Chance
  21.   Winter Wonderland
  22.   Silent Night
  23.   I'll Be Home for Christmas
  24.   Gone Too Soon
  25.   There She Goes
  26.   My Kinda Girl
  27.   Tender Lover
  28.   Fire and Rain by Kenneth Edmonds
  29.   Mary Mack
  30.   The Day (That You Gave Me a Son)
  31.   Two Occasions
  32.   Diamonds
  33.   Simple Days
  34.   I Care About You
  35.   You Make Me Feel Brand New
  36.   Day
  37.   Time in a Bottle by Kenneth Edmonds
  38.   Good to Be in Love
  39.   U Should Know
  40.   I Said I Love You
  41.   Lady, Lady
  42.   Give U My Heart
  43.   Shower the People by Kenneth Edmonds
  44.   Love Makes Things Happen by Pebbles
  45.   Our Love
  46.   Love and Devotion
  47.   Fight for Love
  48.   I Need A Love Song
  49.   The Gettin' to Know U
  50.   She
  51.   Goin' Outta Business
  52.   Can't Stop Now
  53.   Mad, Sexy, Cool
  54.   Tonight It's Goin' Down
  55.   The Loneliness
  56.   Medley: I'll Make Love to You/End of the Road
  57.   What If
  58.   Everytime I Feel the Groove
  59.   All Day Thinkin'
  60.   When Your Body Gets Weak
  61.   Illusions
  62.   Let's Be Romantic
  63.   When Men Grow Old
  64.   Where Will You Go
  65.   Reason for Breathing
  66.   Well Alright
  67.   Rock Bottom
  68.   End of the Road
  69.   Exhale (Shoop Shoop)
  70.   Change the World
  71.   Faithful
  72.   Lovers
  73.   Something Bout You
  74.   Standing Ovation
  75.   I Want You by After 7
  76.   Walking on Air by El DeBarge
  77.   Wonderful Tonight by Kenneth Edmonds
  78.   If We Try
  79.   Please Come to Boston by Kenneth Edmonds
  80.   Not Going Nowhere by Kenneth Edmonds
  81.   Diary by Kenneth Edmonds
  82.   The Soldier Song by Kenneth Edmonds
  83.   Longer by Kenneth Edmonds
  84.   Knockin' on Heaven's Door by Kenneth Edmonds
  85.   Sorry for the Stupid Things
  86.   Drama, Love & 'Lationships
  87.   Grown & Sexy
  88.   Seven Seas
  89.   I Said to You
  90.   Don't Take It So Personal
  91.   With Him
  92.   I Keep Callin'
  93.   Work It Out
  94.   Baby's Mama by Snoop Dogg
  95.   Stressed Out
  96.   Outside in/Inside Out
  97.   Saturday
  98.   Can't Stop My Heart
  99.   Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  100.   Man Nuh Fi Butterfly
  101.   For the Cool in You
  102.   The Little Drummer Boy
  103.   How Come, How Long
  104.   Breathe Again
  105.   Talk to Me
  106.   If
  107.   Love Saw It
  108.   Mi Ilusion
  109.   God Must Love U
  110.   Take Your Time
  111.   If Only for One Night
  112.   She's International
  113.   Mambo
  114.   Lover and Friend
  115.   Wish U Was My Girl
  116.   How Can U Be Down
  117.   I'll Always Love You
  118.   You Are So Beautiful
  119.   A Bit Old-Fashioned
  120.   The Christmas Song
  121.   Chivalry
  122.   Lovers (2)
  123.   Still in Love With U
  124.   Bus Load
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