Kenneth Edmonds is more than just a Babyface. He’s an R&B legend with Grammys, multi-platinum records and chart-topping singles under his belt; a father; and a philanthropist.
Edmonds is involved with numerous charitable organizations, including the United Negro College Fund, VH1 Save the Music and Stand Up to Cancer. However the two causes that are nearest and dearest to his heart are the Alzheimer, Huntington and Parkinson’s diseases research organization Keep Memory Alive and the juvenile diabetes fundraiser Carousel of Hope.
The producer-singer is an active contributor to Keep Memory Alive, which supports the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. He most recently performed at the org’s rodeo fundraiser in July and attended its Power of Love gala in April.
Edmonds’ mother passed away from Alzheimer’s last year. He said it was painful to watch her drift away mentally, at times forgetting that one of her sons — his brother — had recently died, and reliving the grief every time she was reminded.
“It’s such a horrible, horrible disease because the most important thing that we have in life is our memory, and the knowledge of the people around us that care for us and love us,” Edmonds says. “No matter what kind of sickness you’re going through, if you know that you’re loved, you’re not alone. But that is a very lonely disease.”
Edmonds has also performed regularly at the Carousel of Hope Gala, which benefits the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, since the mid-1980s. The cause holds special meaning to him because he has several family members with diabetes.
Davis, who has organized the annual benefit in Los Angeles and Denver since 1978, lauds Edmonds’ sincerity and selflessness.
“This is a man who cares; he’s doing it not just for a gala, he’s doing it for a reason, for a cause,” Davis says. “He is a great person with the kindest heart, and that heart comes out when he gets up to the stage and he talks to the people and he gets them to join with him, to get them to join together for a reason.”
Even though he’s been asked to start his own charity numerous times, Edmonds says he’s more comfortable supporting other people, David Foster being one of them.
“There have been at least 20 charity events that I’ve dragged him into, and he honestly never says no unless he just physically can’t be there,” Foster testifies. “He never gets paid, and he always brings it, and he always makes me look great.”
Over the years, he’s helped raise more than $500,000 for a transitional home for at-risk youth in Washington, D.C., donated more than $100,000 to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and teamed up with Antonio “L.A.” Reid to co-write and produce Stand Up to Cancer’s inaugural song “Just Stand Up,” featuring Beyonce, Rihanna, Mariah Carey and Sheryl Crow, among other superstar singers. Edmonds’ accolades include the Essence Award for Excellence, the City of Hope Award, and the New York Children’s Art Award.
The R&B crooner has also participated in several benefit concerts, including the On the Vine music festival, which supports kidney disease research, Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys Benefit concert, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Dream Concert.