||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2008)|
Baker performing at the 17th Annual Salute to Freedom in November 2008.
|Birth name||Anita Denise Baker|
January 26, 1958 |
Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
|Origin||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
|Genres||R&B, soul jazz, smooth jazz, soul, quiet storm|
Beverly Glen Records (1982-1984)
Blue Note (2004-present)
|Associated acts||Chapter 8, Michael J. Powell|
|Website||Blue Note artist page|
Anita Denise Baker (born January 26, 1958) is an American singer-songwriter. Starting her career in the late-1970s with the funk band, Chapter 8, Baker eventually released her first solo album, The Songstress, in 1983. Baker rose to stardom following the release of her sophomore 1986 album, Rapture, which included the Grammy-winning single, "Sweet Love". To date, Baker has won eight Grammy Awards and has four platinum albums and two gold albums to her credit. Baker has an alto vocal style.
Early life and career 
Anita Baker was born on January 26, 1958 in Toledo, Ohio. At two, her mother abandoned her and Baker was raised by a foster family in Detroit, Michigan. When Baker was twelve, her foster parents died and her foster sister raised her afterwards. By the time Baker was sixteen, she began singing R&B at Detroit nightclubs. After one performance, she was discovered by bandleader David Washington, who gave her a card to audition for the funk band, Chapter 8.
Baker joined the group in 1975 and the group toured relentlessly until securing a deal with Ariola Records in 1979. The group's first album, Chapter 8, was released that year and featured the singles "Ready for Your Love" and "I Just Want to Be Your Girl". After Ariola bought out Arista Records in 1979, Arista staff took over the label and dropped Chapter 8 from its roster, convinced that the group's lead singer, Baker, didn't have "star potential".
Baker returned to Detroit and became a waitress and a receptionist of a law firm. In 1982, Otis Smith, a former associate of Ariola, called Baker and convinced her to start a solo career under his Beverly Glen label. After considerable persuasion, Baker eventually signed with the company, releasing her debut solo album, The Songstress, in 1983.
Music career 
Early success: 1983-1985 
The Songstress launched four singles: "No More Tears" and its b-side, "Will You Be Mine", "Angel" and "You're the Best Thing Yet". "Angel" became Baker's first top ten single, reaching number five on the R&B charts in late 1983. "You're the Best Thing Yet" followed it in the R&B top 40 early the following year. Despite this early success, Baker later complained that she hadn't received any royalties from the work. In addition, the label delayed work on Baker's follow-up of The Songstress. By 1984, Baker sought to leave the label after two years, but ran into issues with Smith. Baker was sued by Smith for breach of contract in 1985. After months in court debating the matter, it was concluded that Baker should be allowed to record for other labels, resulting in winning the case against Smith.
Baker eventually signed with the Warner Music Group-associated label, Elektra Records, in 1985 and began hard at work on her next album. Her Elektra contract allowed the young singer to have creative control, allowing her to produce her own music, something she wasn't allowed to do at Beverly Glen. Baker eventually picked her old Chapter 8 band mate, songwriter and producer Michael J. Powell to work with her on her first Elektra album though label execs were initially unhappy with her choice of Powell over more established producers. Later in 1991, Elektra re-issued The Songstress, on their own label after buying rights to the album. It has sold more than 300,000 copies since its release.
Mainstream success: 1986-1996 
In March 1986, Baker released her second album, Rapture. While sales were initially slow following the release of the album's debut single, "Watch Your Step", Elektra released the mid-tempo ballad, "Sweet Love", which became her first pop hit, reaching number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and also hitting the charts successfully in England. The album eventually launched three further hit singles, including "Caught Up in the Rapture", "No One in the World" and "Same Ole Love (365 Days a Year)". Throughout 1986 and 1987, Baker promoted the album by touring, headlining her first tour, A Night of Rapture Tour. The tour sparked the release of the VHS (and later DVD) set, A Night of Rapture. Eventually by 1988, the album had sold over eight million copies worldwide, five million of which was sold in the United States alone. The album resulted in Baker winning two Grammy Awards at the 1987 ceremony. In 1987, Baker collaborated with The Winans on their song, "Ain't No Need to Worry", which gave Baker a third Grammy, this time in the Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group, Choir or Chorus category.
Baker's follow-up, Giving You the Best That I Got, was released in October 1988 and immediately became a success, topping the Billboard 200 and selling five million copies worldwide, three million of which sold alone in the states. The title track reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the R&B and adult contemporary charts, becoming her most successful charted single. The follow-up, "Just Because", reached the top 20 on the pop chart, while a third single, "Lead Me Into Love", became a top ten R&B hit. The album resulted in three more Grammy Awards for the singer. In 1990, Baker released Compositions, which had Baker more involved in the songwriting and production process and the first in which she began incorporating more jazz elements than in previous albums. The album launched the singles "Talk to Me", "Soul Inspiration" and "Fairy Tales". The album eventually sold over a million copies. After the finish of her third straight tour and the end of the album's promotion in 1991, Baker took a break from the business where she settled with her husband at the time, later having two children together.
After appearing on Frank Sinatra's Duets album, Baker officially returned to the charts with Rhythm of Love in 1994. The album featured the hit "Body and Soul", which became her first top 40 pop hit since 1989; the second single, the mid-tempo "I Apologize", later won Baker a eighth Grammy. The album eventually sold over two million copies, resulting in her fourth consecutive platinum-selling album. Baker toured relentlessly throughout the album's promotion, touring with the Rhythm of Love Tour from December 14, 1994 and November 14, 1995. However, Baker was unsatisfied with Elektra's promotion of the album and sought to be transferred to another label associated with the Warner Music Group. Baker finally won a new contract with Atlantic Records in 1996.
Hiatus years and return: 1996-present 
Taking a hiatus after the end of the Rhythm of Love Tour to take care of her two sons, Baker didn't return to the studio until August 2000. However, Baker's recordings during this period were ruined by random popping noises from the rented 24-track tape machine, resulting in tracks not being repaired. In May 2001, Baker filed a lawsuit in federal court against Zomba Recording Corp. and its Dreamhire division. Due to a label restructuring, Baker was let go from Atlantic that November without releasing any material with the company. During this hiatus, Rhino Records released the compilation, The Best of Anita Baker (named Sweet Love: The Very Best of Anita Baker in the UK) in June 2002. The album eventually was certified gold by the RIAA, denoting sales in excess of 500,000 units in the US.
That year, Baker returned to perform at venues to enthusiastic audiences, inspiring her to seek a new recording deal, eventually signing with Blue Note Records, in March of 2004. That September, Baker released the album, My Everything. Despite her decade-long absence from the charts, the album became successful, peaking at number four on the Billboard 200 and number-one on the R&B charts, eventually being certified gold. Baker released the Christmas album, Christmas Fantasy, the following year, winning a Grammy nomination for the song, "Christmas Time Is Here". Starting in 2007, Baker embarked on a two-year concert tour titled An Evening with Anita Baker that eventually ended in 2009. In June 2010, Baker sang the National Anthem at Game 4 of that year's NBA Finals at the TD Garden. Her performance was roundly criticized by viewers, which discussed the matter on Twitter. In December 2011, Baker had been scheduled to sing "Sweet Love" during a tribute to Detroit R&B music. Rumors of friction between Baker and fellow performer Jill Scott were initially seen as a possible cause of Baker leaving the show at the last minute. However, Baker attributed her exit to its producers refusing to allow her to properly rehearse her number with the other performers who would be singing with her, presumably Marsha Ambrosius and Ledisi, who sung "Sweet Love" on the show's broadcast.
In August 2012, Baker released her version of Tyrese's hit, "Lately". The song made headlines for Baker after the song was played on every single hour of the hour throughout the day on urban adult contemporary radio, making her the first artist to make this kind of debut. Baker has been working on the album featuring the single, Only Forever, since 2010. Though Blue Note set album release dates for the album in October and December of 2012, Baker decided she still needed to work on the album, causing a delay. Currently the album has no release date. In February of 2013, Baker returned to the national spotlight, performing "Lately" and "Same Ole Love" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. That same month, she appeared at the Grammys where "Lately" was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Personal life 
Baker married her only husband, Walter Bridgforth, Jr., on December 24, 1988. After numerous years apart, the couple separated in 2005 and finalized their divorce two years later. They have two sons, Walter Baker (born January 1993) and Edward Carlton Bridgforth (born May 1994). Baker currently lives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Both children attended The Grosse Pointe Academy.
Selected awards and accolades 
Grammy Awards 
|1987||Rapture||Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female||Won|
|"Sweet Love"||Best Rhythm & Blues Song||Won|
|1988||"Ain't No Need to Worry" (with The Winans)||Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo, Group, Choir or Chorus||Won|
|1989||"Giving You the Best That I Got"||Record of the Year||Nominated|
|Song of the Year||Nominated|
|Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female||Won|
|Best Rhythm & Blues Song||Won|
|1990||Just Because||Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female||Won|
|1991||Compositions||Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female||Won|
|1995||"Body and Soul"||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|Rhythm of Love||Best R&B Album||Nominated|
|1996||"When You Love Someone" (with James Ingram)||Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals||Nominated|
|"I Apologize"||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||Won|
|2005||"You're My Everything"||Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|My Everything||Best R&B Album||Nominated|
|2007||"Christmas Time Is Here"||Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|2013||"Lately"||Best Traditional R&B Performance||Nominated|
American Music Awards 
|1987||Anita Baker||Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Nominated|
|Rapture||Favorite Soul/R&B Album||Nominated|
|1988||Anita Baker||Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Won|
|Rapture||Favorite Soul/R&B Album||Won|
|1990||Anita Baker||Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist||Nominated|
|Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Won|
|"Just Because"||Favorite Soul/R&B Single||Nominated|
|1995||Anita Baker||Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Won|
|1996||Anita Baker||Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist||Nominated|
Soul Train Music Awards 
|1987||"Sweet Love"||Best Single, Female||Won|
|Best Music Video||Nominated|
|Rapture||Album of the Year, Female||Nominated|
|1989||"Giving You the Best That I Got"||Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Song of the Year||Won|
|Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Single, Female||Won|
|Giving You the Best That I Got||Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Album of the Year, Female||Won|
|1991||"Talk to Me"||Best R&B/Urban Contemoprary Single, Female||Nominated|
|Compositions||Best R&B/Urban Contemoprary Single, Female||Nominated|
|1995||"Body and Soul"||Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video||Nominated|
|Best R&B/Soul Single, Female||Won|
|Rhythm of Love||R&B/Soul Album of the Year, Female||Won|
|2010||Anita Baker||Legend Award, Female||Won|
Other honors 
|1994||Hollywood Walk of Fame||Star at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.|
|2005||International Artist of the Year||Canadian Smooth Jazz Award||Won|
- 1983: The Songstress
- 1986: Rapture
- 1988: Giving You the Best That I Got
- 1990: Compositions
- 1994: Rhythm of Love
- 2004: My Everything
- 2005: Christmas Fantasy
- TBA: Only Forever
- A Night of Rapture Tour (1986/87)
- Giving You the Best World Tour (1988/89)
- Compositions World Tour (1990/91)
- Rhythm of Love World Tour (1994/95)
- Anita Live! (2002/04)
- An Evening with Anita Baker (2007/09)
- Steve Huey. "Anita Baker: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- Ebony 1994, p. 50.
- Smith 1996, p. 19.
- Smith 1996, p. 20.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)
- "Songstress Anita Baker Successfully Orchestrates Unprecedented Record Label Transfer; Leaves Elektra Records for Atlantic Records". PR Newswire. September 6, 1996. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- "Anita Baker Sues Over Allegedly Ruined Tracks". Billboard. 2001-05-18. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
- "Stewart, Baker, O'Connor Latest To Leave Atlantic". Billboard. 2001-05-18. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
- National Anthem Hits a Bad Note, Twitter users blast Anita Baker's singing of the Star-Spangled Banner
- »» (2011-12-28). "Anita Baker Explains ‘VH1 Divas’ Drama: 5 Other Famous Show Feuds | Rolling Out - Black News, Celebrity Videos, Entertainment, Business & Politics". Rolling Out. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
- Anita Baker Hit The Studio With Snoop Dogg
- Baker says she is finalizing her divorce
- Steve Dougherty (October 10, 1994). "Starting to Recapture the Rapture". People.
- "Grosse Pointe police: Peeper at Anita Baker's window was mistaken". February 1, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- 2005 Canadian Smooth Jazz Award
- Smith, Jessie (1996). Notable Black American Women: book II. VNR AG. ISBN 978-0-81039-177-2.
- Norment, Lynn (September 1994). "Anita Returns With a Bang". Ebony.
- Official Website
- Anita Baker on Blue Note Records
- Anita Baker at Allmusic
- Anita Baker at the Internet Movie Database
- Biography and note to fans at SoulTracks
- Official Myspace Page