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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10, 1958

Hi! And, welcome to the 101st day of 2012!

On most other years, April 10th would be the 100th day of the year, but since it's a leap year this year, it's not. I know, it's weird, isn't it? :D

All that aside, it's time for another trip back through time, as we take a look back on an event that took place on April 10th.

But, before we launch into that, we will, as always, talk about some other happenings that occurred on this date throughout history.

We'll start with April 10th happenings through the years, beginning with...

837 – Halley's Comet and Earth experienced their closest approach to one another, their distance being 3.2 million miles apart

1815 – Mount Tambora begins a three-month long eruption. 71,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives, and the resulting disaster affects global climate for the next two years

1816 – The U.S. Government approves creation of the Second Bank of the United States

1856 – Theta Chi fraternity is founded at Norwich University

1858 – After the original “Big Ben” had cracked during testing, a new bell was recast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry

1874 – The first Arbor Day is celebrated in the state of Nebraska

1887 – Pope Leo XIII authorizes the establishment of The Catholic University of America

1912 – The Titanic leaves port in Southampton, England, would sink just five days later

1916 – The PGA (Professional Golf Association of America) is created in New York City

1925 – F. Scott Fitzgerald's “The Great Gatsby” was first published

1953 – The movie “House of Wax” debuts, making it the first 3D film made from a major American studio (Warner Brothers)

1970 – Paul McCartney announces his departure from the Beatles citing personal and professional reasons

1972 – For the first time since 1967, American troops bomb North Vietnam during Vietnam War

2010 – Polish Air Force Tu-154M crashes in Russia, killing Polish president Lech Kaczynski

We also said goodbye to a few celebrities on April 10. These include actor Larry Linville (2000), singer Little Eva (2003), football player Al Lucas (2005), and actress Dixie Carter (2010).

For today's look back through time, we're going to feature a celebrity birthday. A celebrity who happens to have the birthdate of April 10, 1958.

It isn't these people, but a very happy birthday to Max von Sydow, Ken Griffey Sr., Steven Seagal, Peter MacNicol, Steven Gustafson (10,000 Maniacs), Brian Setzer, Orlando Jones, Billy Jayne (previously Jacoby), Kenny Lattimore, Q-Tip, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Kasey Kahne, Laura Bell Bundy, Liz McClarnon (Atomic Kitten), Chyler Leigh, Ryan Merriman, Mandy Moore, Haley Joel Osment, Alex Pettyfer, and A.J. Michalka.

No, today we're going to be taking a look back at a man who started off in the industry very young, and who ended up wearing many hats during his career. Singer, songwriter, performer, record label founder, record producer, film producer...he even has a stretch of highway named after him!

Seriously, that last part is the truth! If you're ever driving down Interstate 65 which passes through the city of Indianapolis, you'll likely see some signs in the area indicating that a particular part of the highway was named after someone named Kenneth Edmonds. But, you may recognize him by his professional name better. Oh, look, here's one of his songs down below.

This is for the cool in you, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. That's right. This blog post is all about you today!

Born on April 10, 1958 in Indianapolis, Indiana, Kenneth Edmonds knew that he wanted to have a career in music as long as he could remember. He was one of six brothers (two of which also had musical success, as Melvin and Kevon Edmonds formed the band After 7 in the late 1980s), and growing up, Kenneth was incredibly shy. He often didn't share his emotions with people publicly. Instead, he got his feelings out through song lyrics. Beginning in his early teen years, Kenneth was writing dozens of songs. It was the way that he coped with his shyness in the public world. I can understand where he was coming from, believe me. Although I never wrote song lyrics, I did do a lot of writing in my teen years myself to cope with feelings of loneliness. I suppose in some ways, I still do this.

But, this blog entry isn't about me. It's about Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. Moving on.

When Kenneth was just in the eighth grade, his father died of lung cancer, leaving his mother to raise six boys as a single parent. It was right around this time that Kenneth had decided that he wanted to take his songwriting skills and put them to the test by becoming a recording artist.

When he was just out of high school, Kenneth started performing and playing. It was one performance that he ended up doing with funk performer Bootsy Collins that Edmonds ended up getting the nickname of “Babyface”. It was coined by Collins, who gave him the moniker upon realizing that he had a young looking face compared to the other performers. The name caught on, and Edmonds soon began using the name professionally.

Babyface would also play with groups such as Manchild, and later joined the band, The Deele (which he would meet Antonio “L.A.” Reid for the first time) as the band's keyboardist. During the period he was with the band, Babyface recorded his debut solo album, “Lovers” in 1986, and achieved his first commercial songwriting credit three years before that when he wrote the tune “Slow-Jam” for the band Midnight Star. But, “Slow-Jam” wasn't a commercial success, and his debut album, while a modest success, only sold a little more than 200,000 copies.

It wasn't until 1988 that Babyface's rise to super-stardom would take place. That was the year that both he and L.A. Reid left The Deele. The following year would be an incredibly busy one for the 31-year-old Edmonds, but it was to be the most life-changing year of his life.

Let's take a look back at Babyface's 1989, shall we? 1989 was the year that Babyface recorded his sophomore album entitled “Tender Lover”, and its success on the charts was much better than his debut. The album's first two singles, “It's No Crime” and “Tender Lover” did very well on the Billboard charts, and both songs topped the R&B charts for several weeks. The album itself went triple platinum, making Babyface a force to be reckoned with on the R&B charts.

And that was just singing. Babyface had even bigger success as a songwriter and music producer, essentially becoming one of the faces behind the creation of the genre of music known as “new jack swing” (which admittedly was a style of music that was a large part of my childhood). Together with L.A. Reid, the duo founded the record label known as LaFace Records in 1989, though it would be a few years yet before that record label would become hugely successful. For now, Babyface and Reid were content on achieving success by writing and producing for other artists. During late 1988 and early 1989, the duo produced songs for Pebbles, Sheena Easton, Bobby Brown, Karyn White, and Paula Abdul, amongst others. And, in 1990, Babyface would end up achieving his first #1 Top 40 hit...although someone else was singing it.

That was Whitney Houston's “I'm Your Baby Tonight”, a #1 hit for her in December 1990, written and produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface.

Other huge hits that could be credited to Babyface were two singles by Boyz II Men (“End of the Road” and “I'll Make Love To You”), Madonna's “Take A Bow”, and “Change The World” by Eric Clapton.

As Babyface became a successful songwriter for other artists, he found his own solo projects getting better as a result. By the time his fourth album “For The Cool In You” was released, Babyface had managed to sell millions of copies of his solo work, and he ended up performing singles from the album on an episode of “Beverly Hills 90210”. This was one of the songs he performed on the show's fourth season finale, and it also happens to be one of my favourite Babyface singles of all time.

ARTIST: Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds
SONG: When Can I See You
ALBUM: For The Cool In You
DATE RELEASED: June 28, 1994

With Edmonds establishing himself as a successful singer and songwriter, it was time for him to build up his resume by developing LaFace Records. In order for the record label to be successful, both Babyface and L.A. Reid needed fresh talent.

Who could have known that three of the first artists signed to LaFace Records would end up becoming huge success stories in themselves?

One of the first bands to sign with LaFace Records was TLC, who ended up recording two incredibly successful albums with LaFace. Both 1992's “Ooooooohhh...On The TLC Tip” and 1994's “CrazySexyCool”, helped TLC become one of the best-selling female musical groups of all-time, the “CrazySexyCool” album spawning several hit singles between 1994 and 1996.

Toni Braxton also recorded her debut album with LaFace Records in 1993. With such hits as “Breathe Again”, “Another Sad Love Song”, and “You Mean The World To Me”, Braxton's album sold eight million copies.

Another artist to benefit from joining the LaFace family was Usher Raymond, whose 1994 debut set the stage for his incredibly successful solo career, which as of 2012 is still going on strong, with Usher set to release his seventh studio album later this year.

So, to say that Babyface was a force in the recording industry would be a bit of an understatement, wouldn't you say? He not only carved out a nice little solo career for himself, but he helped produce songs for other successful artists, and even helped kick off the careers of other musical stars.

In later years, Babyface moved into producing soundtracks for motion pictures (most notably the soundtrack for the 1995 film “Waiting To Exhale”), and he would eventually start up Edmonds Entertainment Group, responsible for the production of the successful 1997 film “Soul Food”, and the less-than-successful 2001 film “Josie and the Pussycats”.

It's hard to ignore the incredible contributions to music that Babyface has made. He helped create a new style of music, and started up a successful record company. He has been rewarded with several high charting singles and albums, dozens of awards, and yes, even that stretch of highway in Indianapolis.

And to think that it all began the day he was born...April 10, 1958.

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