R&B crooner Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds continues his nationwide tour with a stop at the Morongo Casino Resort in Cabazon Sunday, Nov. 11 at 7pm. Edmonds has been crisscrossing the country taking over morning TV to serenading shoppers in Nordstroms in downtown San Francisco to having a face to face chitchat with Oprah – all to promote his new CD, Playlist.
“These songs came from memories, and these songs helped shape who I am – and they're still shaping who I am," says Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds about his emotional new album, Playlist. "They shaped my past and now they're shaping my future."
Indeed, eight of Playlist's ten songs loom large in the memory of just about anyone who has loved popular music for the past three decades. The titles and the original performers alone constitute a pop-radio dream team: "Wonderful Tonight" (Eric Clapton); "Shower the People" and "Fire and Rain" (James Taylor); "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (Bob Dylan); "Please Come To Boston" (Dave Loggins); "Longer" (Dan Fogelberg); "Time in a Bottle" (Jim Croce), and "Diary" (Bread).
Much loved as they are, however, these songs are not necessarily the first ones that fans would associate with Edmonds, as he himself admits. "Coming from 'Whip Appeal' to these songs, it seems like a stretch," he says with a chuckle. "But it doesn't feel like that to me. It feels pretty natural."
Playlist was a labor of love for Edmonds because, as is the case with so many millions of other people, these songs are a big part of the reason that he fell in love with music in the first place. "When I was in the seventh or eighth grade, I would go to church on Sunday, and I'd listen to the music," Edmonds recalls about his childhood in Indianapolis. "That was the fun part for me. But when the preacher started preaching, I would leave and go to the car and listen to the radio. Normally, I would listen to the R&B station, but they'd be playing church music, too. So I'd switch to the AM pop station, and that's where I was introduced to James Taylor, Bread, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton. I was learning how to play guitar, it was acoustic music, and it talked to me. I loved it."
The one song that seems very suited for what's happening in his post-divorce life is the song "Not Going Nowhere." It was written to reassure his two boys that divorce won't mean a separation between parent and child. For Edmonds, whose amicable split from his wife Tracey was national news awhile back, the song came directly from real life. "I played the chords one day, and those words just flowed out like a conversation," Edmonds says. "It's part of a conversation that both Tracey and I had with our kids. We told them that we're still the best of friends, and that nothing was going to change. We wanted to make them feel secure."
Edmonds says that Playlist "is one of my favorite records that I've done. What's cool is that it's familiar, but it's fresh. I want people to hear something they know as if they're hearing it for the first time. And I hope a lot of people really care for it, because I would love to do more – and pull out more of my favorite memories."
Tickets for Babyface at Morongo Casino Resort are $50 and $60.