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Anita Baker is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter known for her elegant R&B canon, with hits like "Sweet Love" and "Just Because."
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Born on January 26, 1958, in Toledo, Ohio, Anita Baker made her album debut in 1983 with The Songstress before releasing several years later her megahit Rapture, featuring the single "Sweet Love." With a lush, soaring voice, Baker has remained a revered force in contemporary soul music for decades with tunes like "Just Because," "Talk to Me" and "Body and Soul," picking up multiple Grammy Awards along the way.
"Fear doesn't overcome me. I say if it's going to be done, let's do it. Let's not put it in the hands of fate. Let's not put it in the hands of someone who doesn't know me."
"My grandmother gave up my mother, and my mother gave me up. I just wanted to stop any hint of that cycle."
"Every consumer other than the 10-21-year-old demographic has been left out. There's a whole group of people out here that are starving. And if you have a whole group of consumers standing there with money in their hands asking you to give them something to buy, it behooves you to give them something to buy."
"I'd never even been fired from a job. I never knew you could lose a record deal because your mother is dying and you can't write."
"I would cry alone because I didn't want to upset him. Unbeknownst to me, he was grieving alone because he didn't want to upset me. Then one day we were walking past each other in the hallway, and I just said, 'I need you.'"
[On grief after miscarriage.]
Anita Baker was born on January 26, 1958, in Toledo, Ohio. She was given up by her teenage biological mother and subsequently raised by a foster clan in Detroit, Michigan, with some reports stating that they were actually relatives as well. Baker was raised and guided during most of her adolescence by beauty salon owner Lois Landry.
A great singer, Baker performed for church congregations and eventually joined the band Chapter 8, who had a hit with the slow and sweeping "I Just Wanna Be Your Girl." The band's label Ariola later folded, and after staff made disparaging comments about Baker's performance abilities, she decided to quit singing and worked as a law firm secretary. Nonetheless, Baker was courted by a former Ariola exec to join Beverly Glen Records; she was thus able to put forth her 1983 debut album, The Songstress.
After negotiating for release from her contract with Beverly Glen, Baker signed with Elektra Records and executive produced her next album, understanding that creative control was essential. Rapture landed in music stores in 1986, featuring "Sweet Love," a Top 10 pop and No. 2 R&B hit. The album went multi-platinum and practically all of its tracks found rotation on quiet-storm radio playlists, including the tender "Caught Up in the Rapture" and "Same Ole Love (365 Days a Year)."
Baker followed up in the fall of 1988 with the No. 1 album Giving You the Best That I Got, which yielded two No. 1 R&B hits as well—the title track, with its supple, casual charm, and "Just Because," a study in unmitigated joy. Baker's exquisite, unearthly vocal prowess evinced a sound that honored soul, pop-songbook and jazz traditions yet was still contemporary, yielding her a variety of fans as she developed a very full touring schedule. In late 1988, Baker wed Walter Bridgforth; the couple would divorce two decades later.
Baker's next album, 1990's Compositions, recorded with total live instrumentation, contained works written by Baker herself and showcased a more freeform, jamming style on a couple of tracks. Along with the single "Talk to Me," "Fairytales"—featuring vividly rendered storytelling about a woman coming to grips with the real dimensions of her relationship—was another hit for the singer.
By the beginning of the new decade, Baker had suffered two miscarriages, and she took time off to recuperate, grieve and focus on family. She gave birth to two sons and returned in 1994 with the album Rhythm of Love, with singles "Body and Soul" and "I Apologize." The collection also showcased standards such as Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love" and more tunes composed by Baker, like "Baby" and "Wrong Man."
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