IF TIME IS THE ENEMY OF BEAUTY, YOU MIGHT EXPECT a particularly hard-fought battle from a star with a stage name like Babyface. But at the seasoned age of 37, the R&B hitmaker, born Kenneth Edmonds, finds that he's effortlessly growing into the moniker given to him back in the early '80s by funk guitarist Bootsy Collins. "I wasn't a pretty boy growing up in Indianapolis, but the funny thing is, I've gotten more youthful-looking as I've gotten older," he says. "I don't do anything. Maybe confidence does it." It certainly doesn't hurt that he has scored four Grammys as a writer-producer, another—to go with two double-platinum albums—as a singer, and penned two recent No. 1 hits, "I'll Make Love to You," by Boyz II Men and Madonna
's "Take a Bow." Aptly, Babyface's devotion-filled ballads hark back to the same era as his genteel features, which combine the sensitivity of young Smokey Robinson with the suaveness of Sam Cooke.
Though his heart belongs to his record-producer wife, Tracey, 28, Babyface drives women wild. "His soft-spoken nature is very sexy, his smile is endearing, and his lack of pretentiousness is very attractive," says singer Vanessa Williams
. But Madonna
puts it more succinctly. "God," she says, "was in a good mood when he made Babyface."