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Babyface's Killer Showing

Kenneth Edmonds' work on 'Waiting to Exhale' helps him tie Michael Jackson's record for most nominations in one year.


Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds was Kenneth "Happy Face" Edmonds Tuesday after picking up 12 Grammy nominations, equaling Michael Jackson's 1983 record for the most in one year.

In the 39th annual Grammy competition, writer-producer-performer Babyface was nominated in the best album category for his "Waiting to Exhale" soundtrack and in seven other categories for his work with such artists as Toni Braxton and Eric Clapton.

"I didn't believe it when I first heard the news, and I'm still shocked," Babyface, 38, said Tuesday from his home in Beverly Hills. "It's a tremendous honor."

A six-time Grammy winner who has helped shape more than 100 Top 10 R&B and pop singles over the last decade, for artists ranging from Madonna to Michael Jackson, Babyface has been called the Quincy Jones of the '90s.

He produced and wrote or co-wrote all but one of the 16 tracks on the "Waiting toExhale" soundtrack, which produced hits for Braxton, Whitney Houston, CeCe Winans, Brandy, Mary J. Blige and Aretha Franklin.

The collection, which generated 12 Grammy nominations but inexplicably was ignored in Oscar balloting last year, is joined in the best album competition by Celine Dion's "Falling Into You," the Smashing Pumpkins' "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," Beck's "Odelay" and the Fugees' "The Score."

In the single record of the year competition, Clapton's "Change the World," another Babyface production, is vying with Alanis Morissette's "Ironic," Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason," the Smashing Pumpkins' "1979" and Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me."

Babyface's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," a hit for Whitney Houston, is among the nominees for song of the year. The others: "Because You Loved Me," written by Diane Warren; "Blue," written more than 30 years ago for Patsy Cline by Dallas disc jockey Bill Mack and a hit last year for 14-year-old country singer LeAnn Rimes; "Change the World," a collaboration by Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Tommy Sims that was a hit for Clapton and also was recorded by Wynonna; and Chapman's "Give Me One Reason."

The awards, determined by the 9,000-member National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, will be presented Feb. 26 at New York's Madison Square Garden in ceremonies televised by CBS. The eligibility period in 89 categories was from Oct. 1, 1995, to Sept. 30, 1996.

The Smashing Pumpkins, whose two-disc "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" collection has sold nearly 4 million copies, are up for seven awards.

Country singer and eight-time Grammy winner Vince Gill picked up five nominations, as did singer-songwriter Chapman, a three-time Grammy winner who won the best new artist statuette in 1988.

Dion, a Canadian pop star whose "Falling Into You" album sold 6.1 million copies last year, collected four nominations. Also up for four awards: Clapton, a nine-time Grammy winner; producer David Foster, a 12-time winner; composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, an 18-time winner; and R&B newcomer Tony Rich.

Rich and Rimes are among the best new artist nominees, along with the rock group Garbage, singer-songwriter Jewel and No Doubt, a pop-ska band from Orange County whose "Tragic Kingdom" has topped the national album sales chart for the last four weeks.

Other nominees: slain rapper Tupac Shakur, who garnered three nominations; the Beatles, whose "Free As a Bird" is up for best group vocal and best short-form video, giving the group its first nominations since 1970; rocker Bruce Springsteen, whose "The Ghost of Tom Joad" was nominated as best contemporary folk album; and Laker center Shaquille O'Neal, nominated for best R&B group vocal as one of several singers on "Stomp," a track from Quincy Jones' "Q's Juke Joint" compilation album.

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