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Wall of Sound News: Babyface Talks hide



Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds has friends in high and somewhat unpredictable places.

As in: Atop the country charts.

The hugely successful R&B writer-producer tells Wall of Sound that he's teaming up with country megastar Garth Brooks to write music for an upcoming film project. The unlikely duo—whose music collectively has sold well over 160 million albums in the United States—will be joined in the project by rock producer Don Was, whose resume includes albums by Bonnie Raitt, the Rolling Stones, and the B-52's.

"It's a film project that Garth is a musician in, as well," Babyface says of the as-yet-untitled movie, whose screenplay is being penned by Jeb Stuart (Die Hard, The Fugitive). "Don Was, myself, and Garth Brooks will be putting some music together for this artist," he says. "But we don't know what his name is yet."

Babyface—he of the new holiday album Christmas With Babyface—knows what style of music the titanic trio will be writing for Brooks' character, but he's not saying. "We're keeping that quiet right now," he says, leaving the masses waiting to inhale any further details.

Babyface, of course, knows a thing or two about major movie music projects: The Waiting to Exhale soundtrack, which he wrote and produced almost in its entirety, sold 7 million copies and featured several No. 1 singles, including Whitney Houston's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)." He recently found himself working with Houston again on some major movie music, producing "When You Believe," Houston's high-profile duet with Mariah Carey that appears on one of the three Prince of Egypt soundtracks.

Such staunch R&B rivals were Carey and Houston that nobody really believed they'd ever record together—not even Babyface, who was incredulous when Jeffrey Katzenberg (the "K' in DreamWorks SKG) approached him about producing a Carey-Houston duet. "I didn't believe him," Babyface tells Wall of Sound. "I just didn't see that happening. But he said they both did, and that's one of the things I've always wanted to do, is work with both of them together. Mariah had actually requested that I produce the song."

The dueling divas never did square off in the studio, Babyface says, because they weren't actually recording at the same time. "They ended up doing it at separate times," he says. "They came together to do some press and were in the room at the same time at that point, but they did not sing together."

Houston recorded her vocal first, and Carey followed soon thereafter, though it was some time before she was actually finished. "Mariah is a perfectionist," Babyface says, "so she ended up working on her part quite a bit, just trying to make sure she was very happy with what she did."

Babyface also tinkered with the song quite a bit, adding a new bridge "to make it a little more R&B. It was an ordeal trying to get this song right," he says. "This is not a normal kind of pop song or R&B song. It's trying to have a little R&B and pop in it. It's a beautiful song that works great in the film, but it was not the norm for Whitney or Mariah or myself."

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