ALBANY — Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds has a long list of accomplishments in his 30-year career. He’s produced countless hits as an artist, acquired 11 Grammys, helped shape the careers of superstars such as Toni Braxton, Boyz II Men and even more contemporary artists such as Ariana Grande. Throughout it all, Edmonds has made time to help pass the gift of music on to the next generation.
On April 15, Edmonds will perform at the Albany Civic Center with special guests Lyfe Jennings, Tyanna Jones and Endure as a part of the I Love Music Tour, a nonprofit that focuses on raising funds as well as awareness for the importance of music education.
Edmonds’ most recent album is “Return of the Tender Lover”, which was released this past December on Def Jam Records and was his first studio album in seven years. The album reached 39th on the Billboard 200 and saw 19,000 copies sold in its first week.
He’s has written and produced hits for Whitney Houston, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion and more, while charting more than 125 to R&B and pop hits. Forty-one of those R&B hits went No. 1, and 16 pop hits did the same. Return of the Tender Lover featured nine new originals and a contemporary sound that Edmonds himself described as “unapologetic R&B.” El DeBarge and After 7 were also featured on the pop/urban album.
Jennings is best known for hits such as Must Be Nice, S.E.X. and Never Never Land Else. Jones is fresh off a fifth place finish on the popular show American Idol. Endure is a local R&B group chosen to perform.
While this is the first time Edmonds has teamed up with the I Love Music Tour, he is no stranger to music related philanthropy as he previously supported VH1’s Save the Music program.
The I Love Music Tour was launched in 2011 to assist music programs after budgets cuts in many school districts left the programs struggling. Eighty-five percent of the show’s ticket sales will go to support cause.
Michael Butler, founder of the I Love Music Tour, believes that supporting music in schools is critical to the success of youth. He noted that studies show participation in school music programs leads to high achievement in both reading and math.
“Schools that incorporate music education show improved graduation rate of over 17 percent,” he said. “More importantly, students who participated in a music program at a school reported the lowest levels of substance use, (tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs) throughout their lifetime. We owe it to our children to fight for these programs.”
Albany City Manager Sharon Subadan said she’s hoping that such a concert will have a large turnout as they continue to try and bring events to expand city life.
“We’ve had varying degrees of success so far, but we’re trying to build momentum,” Subadan said. “Bringing events to Albany, especially to the Civic Center, is a quality-of-life issue that will help us generate interest in our downtown development. Once we add new restaurants and other establishments in our downtown district, we hope we’ll be able to bring events that will generate the kind of hugely successful response I understand there was here in the past.”
She added that so far it’s been a bit of a struggle getting members of the community on board.
“In the scheme of things, the events we’ve promoted so far have not had the overwhelming success we’d hoped for. But from a quality-of-life standpoint, I think there have been degrees of success. I’ve certainly been impressed with the diversity of the crowds we’ve had and the fact that supporters came from all over the region. If the City Commission continues to support our efforts, it’s something I’d like for us to continue doing.”
Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com of at the box office, which can be reached at (229) 430-3804.