Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26: Jazz and soul singer Anita Baker is 56-years-old today.

Anita Baker has won eight Grammy Awards, and has four platinum albums and two gold albums to her credit?
Anita Baker was born in Toledo, Ohio, and raised in Detroit, Michigan where she grew up listening to female jazz singers including Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, and Ella Fitzgerald. At age 12, she began singing a gospel choir, and by age 16 she was performing with several local bands.

In 1975, she successfully auditioned for Chapter 8, one of Detroit's most popular acts at the time. The group eventually signed with Ariola and released an album in 1979, but were immediately dropped when the label was acquired by Arista - which didn't care for Baker's vocals.

Disheartened, Baker worked low-paying jobs in Detroit and found steady work as a receptionist at a law firm. In 1982, Otis Smith - who'd worked with Chapter 8 - contacted Baker about recording for his new label Beverly Glen. Baker was reluctant at first, not wanting to give up her "job security,"  but eventually relented and flew out to the West Coast to record her debut album, The Songstress, in 1983 on a small label, Beverly Glen Records.

The album only had minor success on the R&B chart but did help launch Anita's career. Baker co-wrote the album's opening track, "Angel."

In 1985, Baker signed a contract with Elektra Records, and released her second album, Rapture, the following year. Baker wrote several tracks for the album including "Been So Long" and "Watch Your Step," and co-wrote the single "Sweet Love."

"Sweet Love" became her first mainstream hit, peaking at number eight on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, number two on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and 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 proved to be Anita's biggest-selling album during her career selling nearly eight million copies worldwide and earning her two Grammy Awards in 1987: Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for the album and Best Rhythm & Blues Song for "Sweet Love." (Baker's world tour for her Rapture album, entitled A Night of Rapture, was filmed and released on DVD in 2007.)

(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)



In 1987, Baker collaborated with The Winans on the single "Ain't No Need to Worry," which led Baker to her third Grammy Award the following year, in the Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group, Choir or Chorus category.

Baker's third album, Giving You the Best That I Got, was released in October 1988. 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. 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 third Elektra album entitled Compositions. 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" (co-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 became top twenty hits on the R&B chart and were also moderate adult contemporary hits. Compositions peaked at number five on the Billboard 200, 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 RIAA.

The album also earned Baker her seventh Grammy Award and her fourth in the category of Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Baker had an amazing streak; she won in that category four out of the five years between 1987 - 1991.

After almost five years of touring, performing, and recording non-stop, Baker took a break, only entering the studio to record the jazz standard "Witchcraft" with Frank Sinatra for his 1993 Duets album.

Baker's fifth album, Rhythm of Love, was issued in September 1994. Baker wrote five of the album's twelve songs, and she produced most of the album herself. It was mainly recorded at Baker's home due to her pregnancy at the time. The album was another commercial success, peaking at number three on the Billboard 200 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 U.S. 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.

In March 2004, Blue Note Records announced that they had signed Baker to an exclusive recording contract that would result in at least two albums. 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 late 1980s.

In September 2004, a decade after her last studio album, Baker released a new album, entitled My Everything. Baker 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 a while, the album was a success and debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The album was certified gold by the RIAA.

In October 2005, Baker released her first Christmas album, Christmas Fantasy. She received a Grammy Award nomination in 2007 for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for the song "Christmas Time Is Here."

Baker will be releasing a new album in the beginning of 2011 entitled 21st Century Love.


For more about Anita, visit her Website at -


No comments:

Post a Comment