The brother of Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Kevon Edmonds was a member of After 7, a vocal group that had two back-to-back number one R&B/Top Ten pop singles with "Ready or Not" and "Can't Stop" -- both written and produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface -- as well as several R&B/pop hits during the '90s. Following the group's breakup, Edmonds continued as a solo performer and reached the Top Ten once more in 1999 with "24/7."
The Indianapolis, IN, native grew up listening to "the good stuff": Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, the Temptations, and other classic soul singers. Too shy to sing in the church choir, Edmonds sang to himself "for my own satisfaction" until his teenage years, when he joined his buddies in the junior-high and high-school choirs. While attending Indiana University, Edmonds' musical ambitions began to blossom. The IU Soul Revue, an extensive course on music theory, performing, and the music business, made him seriously consider music as a career. Edmonds, who started the group After 7 with brother Melvin Edmonds and IU classmate Keith Mitchell, would do occasional R&B shows in local clubs. After graduation, the trio worked nine-to-five jobs. Meanwhile, L.A. Reid and Babyface had signed a production deal with Virgin and were scouting around for acts to produce. After they chose to work with their relatives, there was a period where the singing trio wasn't sure of the producers' intent, as they waited for Reid and Babyface to finish other projects. But once things started rolling, they really started rolling.
The first single from After 7's debut self-titled album was "Heat of the Moment," which hit number five R&B in summer 1989. "Ready or Not" parked at number one R&B for two weeks, number seven pop in early 1990. "Can't Stop" with Edmonds on lead went to number one R&B, number six pop in summer 1990; the remixed extended version of the song proved to especially popular. The album After 7 went platinum, selling one and a half million units and peaking at number 25 pop in summer 1990.
The group performed its "Night Like This" single in the 1991 Twentieth Century Fox movie The Five Heartbeats, starring and directed by Robert Townsend. It's included on the Virgin Records-issued soundtrack. The movie, released on Fox Home Video, revolved around the travails of a '60s-era soul vocal group that was loosely based on the Dells. "Night Like This" went to number seven R&B in spring 1991. The group, via concert tours and numerous TV appearances, established itself as a top-flight performing act.
After 7 released two certified gold albums: Takin' My Time (issued September 1992), including the singles "Kickin' It" (number six R&B), a medley of the Originals' 1969 hit "Baby I'm for Real" (written by Anna and Marvin Gaye) and Bloodstone's 1973 hit "Natural High"; and Reflections (issued August 1995), including the singles "Gonna Love You Right" from the Wesley Snipes/Michael Wright movie Sugar Hill, "Not Enough Hours in the Night" on the soundtrack for Fox-TV's Beverly Hills 90210: The College Years, "'Til You Do Me Right" (number five R&B), and a Jon B song, "Damn Thing Called Love."
After 7 went on hiatus just about the time Babyface was looking for real singers to join him in a fictitious group called Milestone for Soul Food, the film he was co-producing. He recruited Edmonds, Melvin, and siblings K-Ci and JoJo from Jodeci. The result was 1997's stirring ballad and instant hit "I Care 'Bout You," which the group also performed in the 20th Century Fox movie starring Vanessa L. Williams. He contributed background vocals to Shanice's self-titled 1999 LaFace CD, and assisted his brother as a choir contractor, assembling just the right voices for studio session choirs, among them those heard on the 1999 Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey duet "When You Believe" from the animated DreamWorks movie The Prince of Egypt. ~ Ed Hogan