Love songs and a legacy as one of the greatest songwriters, were on display Friday 19 January, when Kenny Edmonds, better known as Babyface graced the Kennedy Center Stage as part of the NSO Pops.
Opening the show was the Duke Ellington School of The Arts Show Choir. Displaying in sync harmonies and choreography, the choir treated the audience to a medley of some Babyface’s most well-known written songs for others. The highlights of the night included covers of Tevin Campbell’s “I’m Ready, Charlie Wilson’s “There Goes My Baby” and Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight.”
Following the opening, it was time for the man of the hour. I’ve attended NSO Pops shows in the past and I thought for sure, the night would be nothing but ballads. Imagine my surprise, when Babyface opened the show with “For the Cool in You,” from the same-titled 1993 album. Conductor and arranger Tim Davies led the Orchestra, as a seasoned pro, while Babyface and his background singers danced on stage. Davies who arranged the set lists for Nas & Kendrick Lamar’s & appearances at the Kennedy Center Is one whose work I plan look more into, as he impressed me with his natural talent.
Following a smooth opening, Babyface went into a 90 minute that look listeners on a journey throughout his career. In his forty-one years as an entertainer, he has written and produced over 26 number-one R&B hits throughout his career and has won 11 Grammy Awards. The night included performances of signature ballads such as “Soon as I Get Home,” “Every time I Close My Eyes” and “Never Keeping Secrets”.
The first highlight of the night came when Babyface performed “Whip Appeal.” The song which appeared on his 1989 sophomore solo album, “Tender Lover,” ranks as one of my all-time favorite ballads. With the orchestra backing him, it was almost as if the classic video played out on stage.
After the show-stopping performance of “Whip Appeal,” Babyface used his guitar to pay tribute to one of his songwriting hero’s James Taylor with a cover of Taylor’s “Fire & Rain,” which led into a performance of Eric Clapton’s “Change the World,” which Babyface produced.
Closing out the night, Babyface performed a cover set list of songs he’s written for other artists. The medley included songs from Bobby Brown, Toni Braxton, Madonna and After 7. However, it was the finale of “End of The Road,” which brought the audience to its feet. Singing the song with a romantic flair, and running out into the audience, to adoring female fans it was a sight to see,
With the assistance of Tim Davies, Babyface showed that a full Orchestra could back almost any genre of music. It was a great night out and should there ever be a repeat performance I highly recommend it.
Final Grade: A+