February 23, 2024

Babyface reflects on early years in Indy during visit to IPS Carl Wilde School 79


Babyface made a surprise visit to IPS Carl Wilde School 79, where WFYI’s Kyle Long spoke to him about his early years in the city. - WFYI Photo

Babyface made a surprise visit to IPS Carl Wilde School 79, where WFYI’s Kyle Long spoke to him about his early years in the city.

WFYI Photo

The Grammy-winning Indianapolis musician Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds visited Indianapolis last week to sing the national anthem at the NBA All-Star game.

Babyface also made a surprise visit to IPS Carl Wilde School 79, where WFYI’s Kyle Long spoke to him about his early years in the city.

Kyle Long: By nearly any metric, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds is the most successful musician to emerge from Indianapolis. He's won 13 Grammy Awards and written and produced over 26 #1 R&B hits.

Babyface was back in his hometown last week to perform the national anthem at the NBA All-Star game. And while he was here, he stopped by IPS Carl Wilde School 79. Babyface partnered with the nonprofit Music Will to donate musical instruments and other resources to 20 IPS schools.

The school's modest gym was packed with students as Babyface and his entourage made their entrance. IPS superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson opened the celebration.

Janice Polizzotto, the chief relationship officer of the nonprofit Music Will, introduced Babyface to the students.

Janice Polizzotta: So I want to hear as loud as you can be, when we say hello and welcome Babyface up here. Let's do like some Q&A. You want to learn more about Babyface?

Long: Janice also unveiled an assortment of guitars, keyboards, drums, and amplifiers, donated by Baybface.

Polizzotta: For you, all for you to learn how to play. So, you want to learn how to play guitar, we got guitars. You want to learn how to play the bass, we got bass. So, on the count of three, we're gonna say 'Thank you, Babyface.' 1-2-3."

Long: When the festivities ended, I spoke with Babyface in one of the school's administrative offices. I asked Babyface if he thought kids in Indianapolis had the same opportunities that he did. Growing up as a teenager, Babyface and his friends at North Central High School had opportunities to perform professionally at venues around the city.

Long: What's it like today for kids? Do you have any sense if that same opportunity exists that you had as a kid in Indy?

Babyface: Those opportunities don't exist the same, as a matter of fact, there used to be clubs around for everybody to play, especially R&B. And I don't even know if that's true for even rock at this particular point.

I think until, you know, we kind of start creating this music where people start picking up instruments, so that at least there's even a band to go to, and people that want to do it. So, hopefully it'll change it that way.

But, you know, it's got to start kind of in the schools first where people are wanting to be, you know, musicians again, and want to actually do that.

Long: That was emotional for me just to watch. I mean, the reaction of the children.

Babyface: Yeah, it was, it was powerful to be in the city since I'm from the city, they've drilled in who I am. So that's how they know who I am. But I would not go in any of this city, I don't think, and get that same reaction.

But still, it's very heartwarming just to see these kids and where they are at this point and just wanting music and having this opportunity. I can only imagine had that been myself years ago seeing someone coming in to do that. That would have liked, even pushing me even more like, 'Oh, I'm gonna do this.'

Long: For WFYI, I'm Kyle Long.

 

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