There are some artist that just take you back with their discography and open the floodgates of memories with every song. You know the ones: all it takes is a few opening notes and – Shazam! – the song registers to the audience and the entire room falls out. Someone screams “that’s my SONG!” (maybe that someone is you) and everyone gets ready to belt all the words out loud together on cue. Strangers unite, hair sweats out and bodies move! Well, #TeamBeautiful had the distinct pleasure of spending the night with two such crowd moving icons — Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Toni Braxton – at InterludesLIVE at New York’s Highline Ballroom.
It was the pair’s first live show together since teaming up to record a new album of duets, “Love, Marriage & Divorce,” due for release February 4 on Motown/Island Def Jam, but in addition to getting a taste of the new material, we had the privilege of seeing their decades-long working relationship play out on the stage. “Kenny’s my musical husband,” Toni told the crowd, “We’ve been ‘married’ since 1992!” The duo then took it back to that very year with their “Boomerang” soundtrack hit “Give U My Heart” — and the nostalgic hits kept on coming!
“I feel like I was born to write for Toni,” Babyface said in between songs, noting that the only hit that he wished he would’ve kept for himself was the 1997 track “How Could An Angel Break My Heart” that appeared on her album “Secrets” (“she sung it better than I could’ve,” he admitted).
Then man behind the prose that has helped Toni’s Grammy-Award winning career soar, gave her the stage and let her shine and showcase their work. She kept it going with another hit from the soundtrack, “Love Should’ve Brought You Home” (remember that scene with Halle Berry and Eddie Murphy!?). From there, the songbird, took us into more hits from her 1993 self-titled debut album, which was produced by both Babyface and L.A. Reid, who was in the house. The audience crooned along to hits like “You Mean The World To Me,” and “Breathe Again” as Toni — who flashed back to her look of the era with her signature short haircut and a sassy LBD and Louboutins to mach — courted the crowd, serenaded fans, and even brought up a lucky few to share the spotlight.
After a flashback with Toni’s set, Babyface then went on to sing some of his own hits like 1993′s “Never Keeping Secrets” and “When Can I See You” before diving into a medley of tracks that he’s written and produces for others. Songs like “Don’t Be Cruel,” the title track from Bobby Brown’s 1988 album and “Roni” from the same album; ”Dial My Heart,” The Boys 1988 hit, Tevin Campbell’s Grammy nominated chart-topper “Can We Talk” and more had the entire room jamming.
But while we loved reminiscing and singing along to all the songs we’ve become familiar with over the decades, Babyface and Toni continue to reinvent themselves with new music. The pair ended the night by preforming music from their upcoming joint album and showed the audience that they’ve still got it. Their current single ”Hurt You,” had the crowd rise to their feet. And it’s not surprisingly so: the track had just moved track from No. 2, to No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts this month, knocking Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell’s summer smash “Blurred Lines” off of a 17-week reign at the top.
Of course, these two music icons can each command a room on their own, but their long working history makes their stage chemistry together even more electric. He smiles flirtatiously and she rubs his face while they sing love songs to each other like they’re the only people in the room, like they mean it. She slips up and calls him “Kenny,” he playfully mimics her deep baritone making the audience laugh. In between sets they share friendly anecdotes and inside jokes the audience is just happy to be let in on, if only for one evening.
It’s a performance that felt like catching up with old friends — and you wont want to miss the reunion! The entire special will air exclusively on TV One, February 8, 2014 at 10p ET/9p CT so you’ll be able to watch the magic for yourself.
In the meantime, get a taste of the event from the video clip above.