Anita Baker

  • R&B singer songwriter born in Toledo Ohio in 1958.
  • At two years old, she was abandoned by her mother, and she was raised in a foster family in Detroit. Her foster parents listened to women jazz singers in their home, so as a child Baker was influenced by artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. At 12 years old, she sang in her church gospel choir, and by 16 years old she was performing in several bands. In 1975, she auditioned for the Detroit soul/funk group Chapter 8, and she joined them as their lead singer. The group released an album in 1979. Soon after its release, their record label was acquired and the new label dropped the group because they did not think that Baker had star potential.
  • Baker returned to Detroit and worked as a waitress and receptionist until 1982. That year, an executive at the old record label convinced Baker to begin a solo career, signing her to his new label. Her debut album, The Songstress, was released in 1983. It was a minor success, with the single Angel peaking at #5 on the R&B chart.
  • Over the next three years, Baker and her label wrangled over disputes regarding royalties and support of another album. After the issues went to court, she was allowed to sign with a new label. In 1986, she released her breakthrough album, Rapture. The album topped the R&B album chart and was certified 5x platinum. Her breakthrough hit was Sweet Love, which reached #8 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart. Three other songs from the album were top 10 hits on the R&B chart. Sweet Love won a Grammy award for Best R&B Song, and the album won a Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance.
  • In 1987, she collaborated with the gospel quartet the Winans on the single Ain’t No Need to Worry. She won her third Grammy award for the song, for Best Soul Gospel Performance.
  • Her third studio album, Giving You the Best I Got, was released in 1988. It topped the Billboard 200 album chart and was certified 3x platinum, driven by the title track and Just Because, both of which peaked at #1 on the R&B chart. The title track also became her highest charting song on the Hot 100, reaching #3. Baker won three more Grammy awards for the album.
  • In 1990, she released Compositions, a studio album where she took a more active role in songwriting and production. This album reflected more of a jazz sound compared to her earlier work. She won her seventh Grammy award for the album, with two songs reaching the top 10 on the R&B chart – Talk to Me and Fairy Tales. 
  • After taking several years off to focus on her young family, she returned to recording in 1994 with the release of the Rhythm of Love album. It continued her run of success, topping the R&B album chart and getting a 2x platinum certification. Body and Soul and I Apologize were top 10 R&B hits, with the latter earning Baker her eighth Grammy award. Following this, Baker became less active in the industry, focusing again on her family.
  • After another contract dispute was resolved, Baker returned to touring in 2002, and she recorded songs for a new album titled My Everything, which was released in 2004. It was her fourth album to reach #1 on the R&B albums chart. The following year, she released a Christmas album. She toured in 2007 to 2009, and she had a farewell tour in 2018. She claimed that she retired – we will see, as she has plenty of fans that would love to see her record and perform again. Baker’s soulful romantic ballads were a prominent part of 80s R&B – one of the biggest voices of “Quiet Storm” R&B radio. Here’s her video for her breakthrough hit, Sweet Love.

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