It was a joyful evening of musical tributes and exuberant song when 48th District Assemblyman Mike Davis honored ten-time Grammy award winner Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds Thursday evening at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park.
Edmonds beamed as several of his musical friends showered him with tributes during the African American History Month Living Legends Award ceremony. The affair was attended by 500 attendees who, during the course of the evening, clapped, cheered and ‘got down’ as a host of musical guests paid tribute to Edmonds.
CAAM Executive Director Charmaine Jefferson and Beverly Black from the Interagency Council praised Edmonds for his musical genius.
Davis paid tribute to Edmonds by observing, “Edmonds has had milestone after milestone in his musical career that seems to have no threshold or peak in sight.”
During his stellar career, the prolific singer/songwriter has racked up such mega-sellers as “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “Every Little Step,” “Red Light Special,” “Slow Jam, “Whip Appeal” and “When Will I See You Again.”
Vocalist Elaine Gibbs thrilled the crowd with a spirited rendition of Toni Braxton’s “Just Another Sad Love Song.” Her performance was followed by vocalist Howard Hewitt, whose smooth, velvety voice delivered his classic “This is for the Lover in You.”
Boys II Men thrilled attendees with a soaring rendition of two of their standards, “I’ll Make Love to You” and “End of the Road.”
“If it wasn’t for the hits that Babyface wrote for us, I don’t think we would be nationally known,” the group acknowledged. “Babyface, thank you for making our dreams come true.”
Island/Def Jam President and legendary record producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid, a longtime friend and collaborator of Edmonds, introduced the musician followed by Davis, who presented Edmonds with the California state Assembly Living Legend Award.
“My life has been so blessed,” said Edmonds. “I want to thank Antonio “L. A. Reid.” Without him, I wouldn’t be standing here today.”
Edmonds revealed that during the fledgling days of his career, Reid inspired him to constantly expand his creative horizons. “L.A. was the guy who pushed me and I pushed him,” Edmonds reflected. “Without this guy, I wouldn’t be standing here tonight.”
Others participating in the tribute included Reverend Ralph Watkins from the City of Refuge Church who delivered the Invocation; members of the United States Marine Corps, who presented the hosting of the colors, and saxophonist Mark Felton, who played a soulful version of the National Anthem. Pastor Kwesi Kamau, pastor of Amos Memorial CME Church, read the benediction, and vocalist Jessica Smith moved the audience with a spirited rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”