Anita Baker (born January 26, 1958 in Toledo, Ohio and raised in Detroit, Michigan) is an American R&B/soul jazz singer-songwriter. To date, Baker has won eight Grammy Awards, and has four platinum albums and two gold albums to her credit.
Chapter 8 (1979)
In 1975, Baker (Contralto) joined the Detroit based band, Chapter 8, which featured Michael J. Powell, who would later produce her solo works. The band eventually got a record deal with Ariola, and their self-titled debut Chapter 8 came out in Fall 1979. Two singles hit the R&B charts: “Ready for Your Love,” a duet between Baker and group member Gerald Lyles; and the Baker-led “I Just Wanna Be Your Girl.”
Ariola Records was bought by Arista Records. Chapter 8 were subsequently dropped from the label roster.
The Songstress (1983)
Baker released her solo debut album, The Songstress, in 1983. Produced by Patrick Moten and Otis Smith, the album was released on the small independent label Beverly Glen Records. The album was initially not a success, but featured the moderate R&B hit “Angel”.
In 1985, Baker signed a contract with Elektra Records, a division of Warner Music Group. She released her second album, Rapture, in 1986. Produced by her friend Michael J. Powell (from the Detroit soul band Chapter 8), Baker wrote several tracks for the album herself including “Been So Long” and “Watch Your Step”, and co-wrote the single “Sweet Love” which became her first mainstream hit; it peaked at number eight on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, number two on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, also making the Top 20 in the United Kingdom. “Caught Up in the Rapture”, “No One in the World”, and “Same Ole Love” also became major R&B and adult contemporary chart hits during 1986 and 1987. Rapture remains Baker’s biggest-selling album and went on to sell nearly eight million copies worldwide. It also earned Baker two Grammy Awards in 1987: Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for the album and Best Rhythm & Blues Song for “Sweet Love”. A show from Baker’s world tour, entitled A Night of Rapture, was filmed and released on home video (and DVD in 2007).
In 1987, Baker collaborated with The Winans on the single “Ain’t No Need to Worry”, which earned Baker her third Grammy Award the following year, in the Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group, Choir or Chorus category.
Giving You the Best That I Got (1988)
Baker’s third album, Giving You the Best That I Got, was released in October 1988. She again worked with Powell, and the album became a critical and commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard 200 chart and selling five million copies worldwide (including three million in the U.S. alone). It featured such hits as “Just Because” and the title track, which became Baker’s biggest pop hit, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100 while topping both the R&B and adult contemporary charts. The album also won three more Grammy awards.
Baker returned to the studio in 1990 for her fourth album (her third for Elektra), entitled Compositions. Once again produced by Powell, this time Baker became more involved in the songwriting and production process and began to experiment with jazz influences. Baker wrote or co-wrote seven of the nine songs on the album, including the hits “Talk to Me”, “Fairy Tales”, “No One to Blame”, and “Whatever It Takes” (written with Gerald Levert). The album was mostly cut “live”, in that the rhythm section was playing as Baker sang. The album included musicians Greg Phillinganes, Nathan East, Paulinho da Costa, Vernon Fails, Ricky Lawson, and Stephen Ferrone.
The three singles from Compositions all failed to reach the top forty of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart (“Talk to Me” came closest peaking at number forty-four). The singles became top twenty hits on the R&B singles chart and were also moderate adult contemporary hits. Compositions peaked at number five on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart, number three on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and number four on the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for one million units sold in the US. The album also earned Baker her seventh Grammy Award and her fourth in the category of Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (a category that she had won four times during five awards ceremonies between 1987 – 1991).
Following Compositions, Elektra Records secured the rights to Baker’s debut album The Songstress from 1983, and re-released it with a new cover artwork in 1991.
Rhythm of Love (1994)
Baker’s fifth album, Rhythm of Love, was issued in September 1994. After ending her production partnership with Powell, Baker produced most of the album herself along with many famous producers such as George Duke, Arif Mardin, Barry J. Eastmond, and Tommy LiPuma. Rhythm of Love was mainly recorded at Baker’s home due to her pregnancy at the time, and she wrote five of the album’s twelve songs. The album was a commercial success, peaking at number three on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart and number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and eventually being certified double platinum by the RIAA. The first single, “Body and Soul”, became Baker’s first US top forty hit in over five years. Baker won the award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the single “I Apologize” at the 1996 Grammy Awards, her fifth Grammy Award in this category and her eighth overall. Baker embarked on the Rhythm of Love World Tour in support of the album, on December 14, 1994 to November 14, 1995.
After Rhythm of Love, Baker largely withdrew from the public eye for many years to dedicate time to her new family. In June 2002, Rhino Records released The Best of Anita Baker (known as Sweet Love: The Very Best of Anita Baker in the UK, with a slightly different track listing), a compilation of Baker’s material from 1983–2002.
Two years later, in March 2004, Blue Note Records announced that they had signed Baker to an exclusive recording contract that would result in at least two new albums. Bruce Lundvall, president and CEO of EMI Jazz & Classics, signed her after she approached him to record for Blue Note. At the same time Rhino Records released A Night of Rapture: Live, a compilation that contained nine live tracks and three multimedia videos recorded in the 1980s.
In September 2004, a decade after her last studio album, Baker released a new album, entitled My Everything. Co-produced by Barry J. Eastmond and Baker herself, she wrote or co-wrote nine of this album’s ten tracks, including a duet with Babyface, “Like You Used to Do”. Though she had been out of the limelight for some considerable time, the album was still moderately successful, peaking at number four on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart and number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The album was certified gold by the RIAA, denoting sales in excess of 500,000 units in the US.
In October 2005, Baker released her first Christmas album, Christmas Fantasy. Again produced by Baker and Eastmond, the album mixed traditional Christmas carols (“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen“), standards (“I’ll Be Home for Christmas“), re-imagined classics (“Frosty’s Rag“), Broadway show tunes (“My Favorite Things“), and three new songs by Baker and Eastmond (“Moonlight Sleighride”, “Family of Man”, and “Christmas Fantasy”). She received a Grammy Award nomination in 2007 for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for the song “Christmas Time Is Here”, although she did not win.
Baker embarked on a concert tour in 2008, entitled An Evening with Anita Baker. Her performance at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan, on July 12, 2008, was recorded and Baker announced plans to release a new DVD and/or CD live album in early 2009.
On September 19, 2008, BusyBoy Productions filmed her entire An Evening with Anita Baker concert at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, Minnesota, for Baker’s up-and-coming DVD and B-roll footage for promotional purposes.
On April 25, 2010, Baker performed at the New Orleans Annual Jazz Fest 2010 at the Congo Square Stage.
On June 10, 2010, Baker sang the National Anthem at Game 4 of the NBA Finals in TD Garden. Her performance was criticized by viewers, and many began criticizing the performance on Twitter after she finished singing.
Baker was scheduled to release her seventh studio album in 2010, entitled 21st Century Love, on Blue Note Records/EMI. However, the album has yet to surface.
Selected awards and accolades
|Grammy Award history|
|1987||Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female||Rapture||Won|
|Best Rhythm & Blues Song||“Sweet Love”||Won|
|1988||Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group, Choir or Chorus||“Ain’t No Need to Worry” (with The Winans)||Won|
|Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female||“Giving You The Best That I Got”||Won|
|1989||Record of the Year||“Giving You the Best That I Got”||Nominated|
|Song of the Year||“Giving You the Best That I Got”||Nominated|
|Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female||“Giving You the Best That I Got”||Won|
|Best Rhythm & Blues Song||“Giving You the Best That I Got”||Won|
|1990||Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female||Compositions||Won|
|1995||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||“Body and Soul”||Nominated|
|Best R&B Album||Rhythm of Love||Nominated|
|1996||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||“I Apologize”||Won|
|Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals||“When You Love Someone” (with James Ingram)||Nominated|
|2005||Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance||“You’re My Everything”||Nominated|
|Best R&B Album||My Everything||Nominated|
|2007||Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance||“Christmas Time Is Here”||Nominated|
American Music Awards
|American Music Award history|
|1987||Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Anita Baker||Nominated|
|Favorite Soul/R&B Album||Rapture||Nominated|
|1988||Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Anita Baker||Won|
|Favorite Soul/R&B Album||Rapture||Won|
|1990||Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist||Anita Baker||Nominated|
|Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Anita Baker||Won|
|Favorite Soul/R&B Single||“Just Because”||Nominated|
|1995||Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Anita Baker||Won|
|1996||Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Anita Baker||Nominated|
- Baker received a “Legend Award” at the 2010 Soul Train Music Awards, where she also performed and was honored..
|1994||Hollywood Walk of Fame||Star at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.|
|2005||International Artist of the Year||Canadian Smooth Jazz Award||Won|
She married Walter Bridgforth Jr. on Christmas Eve 1988. As of October 2007 they were finalizing their divorce. They have two sons, Walter Baker Bridgforth (born January 1993) and Edward Carlton Bridgforth (born May 1994). Baker currently lives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan