Anita Baker Biography
Last updated: 07/18/2014 12:13:05 AM
The sound of Anita Baker, brings peace to the soul, put an Anita cd on and everything is going to be all right. Her characteristic voice stands out and is truly the best R&B singer in the world today. Nothing happens overnight and it has been a struggle for her to be where she is today.
Anita began singing in a baptist church choir at the age of 12. At age 16 she was in a band called Humanity which included fellow high school friends and was playing with other local bands when she was approached by bass player David Washington of Chapter 8 to audition. She joined the group which was the most popular group of Detroit at the time, in 1975. They spend a few years playing in and around Detroit, and eventually got a record deal with Ariola. The self titled album came out in the fall of 1979, there where 2 R&B chart singles on it "Ready for your love" and "I just wanna be your girl". Ariola records ran into troubles and the company was bought by Arista, and when it was time to renew the contract, the executives at Arista told Anita that she couldn't sing and therefore used that reason, not to renew Chapter 8's contract.
Anita went home to Detroit and worked, first as a short order cook, then waited tables at a bar and finally getting a good job with a law firm as a receptionist. Otis Smith who was the man behind Chapter 8's contract, formed his own label in 1981, called Beverly Glenn. Remembering Anita's special voice, he got her telephone number from a Chapter 8 member and called her in 1982, first Anita said no, because of the 9-5 job, a steady income, health coverage and paid vacations, but when Otis Smith raised the first 10.000$ offer and her law firm, whom she was working for, approved the contract, was the answer, yes!.
The fabulous album "Songstress" hit the streets in 1983, Anita worked with Patrick Moten on an album that contains soul, jazz and gospel in a way that only Anita Baker can express. Spring 1984, Anita has had 4 chart hits and was close to a gold record. Her new followers screamed for a new album, and when asked Beverly Glenn, there where no answer. Disputes lead to a contract with Elektra in 1986.
Being an executive producer on her debut for Elektra (which was out of the ordinary) meant that Anita had complete control on the project. Choosing her friend from Chapter 8, Michael J. Powell as her Producer, they created a masterpiece called "Rapture". The album received US platinum in only 6 month and the success on the chart's meant a total sale of over 6 million records worldwide. The following Grammy awards gave her 2 Grammy's.
In November 1986 when she was returning to Detroit to receive the key of the city, she got engaged to Walter Bridgforth Jr. whom she had meet on a earlier trip home in January. They got married on Christmas Eve 1988.
1987, Anita worked on her follow-up album " Givin you the best that I got" in between a busy performance schedule. Again she worked with M.J Powell, and although the album received Grammy's later on, Anita wasn't comfortable with the final mix. As the perfectionist she is, she believed that if she wasn't satisfied with her work, the fans wouldn't be either, but later she has realized that the fans are with her in good and bad times, and the album became a critical and commercial success.
On her third project for Elektra, Anita wanted to be more involved in song writing and wished to experiment with jazz. The album contains 7 songs written by Anita and the album was mostly cut live, meaning that the rhythm section was playing as Anita sang. On the album produced by Michael J. Powell, there were musicians like Greg Philinganes, Nathan East, Paulinho da Costa, Vernon Fails, Ricky Lawson and Stephen Ferrone. Anitas involvement in the whole recording process gave the album a personal touch and for the effort she received her 7th Grammy award. The album is of course, "Compositions".
Anita now felt it was time to relax a little and ended her partnership with Michael J. Powell. She felt that on her next project she would like to be more in charge on how the record should sound and be the ultimate creative force. During her break away from the industry and 2 miscarriages in 1989 and 1991, Anita and Walter became parents in january 1993 to a son, Walter Baker Bridgforth. Five months later Anita started working on her next project, "Rhythm of love" and during the recording sessions she became pregnant again.
Anita produced most of the album, but famous producers like George Duke, Arif Mardin, Barry Eastmond and Tommy Lipuma also contributed to the album. "Rhythm of love" was mainly recorded in Anita's home due to the pregnancy, she wrote 5 out of 12 songs and beautyfully selected "My Funny Valentine" to be the last song, a song that proves that Anita should do an all jazz album in my opinion. After the birth of Edward Carlton Bridgforth in may 1994, "Rhythm of love" was released in september 1994 and received her 8th Grammy for "I apologize" in 1995. After "Rhythm of love" she has taking time of to spend with her family, until a tragedy occurred, when she lost her birth mother in 1996 and her father in 1998 and at the same time struggling with the record company on disagreements, naturally it has delayed a new cd for quite a while. But she has won the case against Elektra and has signed with Atlantic Records.
1998, 4 years after "Rhythm of love", Anita is again in the studio, but only for 2 appearances in jazz piano player Cyrus Chestnut self titled cd. The songs "My favorite things" and "Summertime" is your second prove that Anita should make an all jazz album and as a jazz lover, I encourage it.
2002 June 18th will see the first release of an "Best of Anita Baker" released on Rhino Records. The date for a completely new cd is still to be announced.
The Anita Baker story will continue and I will be the one to tell you.
June 16th 2002