Hooray! Popular American singer and songwriter Anita Denise Baker turned 64 on Wednesday. She was one of the most popular singers of soulful ballads during the height of the Quiet Storm period of the 1980s. Beginning her career in the late 1970s with funk band Chapter 8, Baker released her first solo album, The Songstress, in 1983.
In 1986, she shot to fame after releasing her second album, Rapture, which included the Grammy-winning single, “Sweet Love.” In 2017, Baker won eight Grammy Awards and has five Platinum albums, as well as one Gold album. Baker is a mezzo soprano, with a vocal range that extends her register to at least three octaves. 1958–79: Early Life, Early Career, and Chapter 8 Anita Baker was born on January 26, 1958, in Toledo, Ohio.
When she was two years old, it was reported that her mother abandoned her, hence she was raised by a foster family in Detroit, Michigan. When Baker was 12, her foster parents died and her foster sister subsequently raised her. At age 16, Baker began singing R&B in Detroit nightclubs.
After a performance, she was discovered by bandleader, David Washington, who gave her a card to audition for the funk-band Chapter 8. Baker joined Chapter 8 in 1975 and the band toured until until he struck a deal with Ariola Records in 1979.
The band’s debut album, Chapter 8, was released that year and included the singles “Ready for Your Love”, a duet between Baker and bandmate Gerald Lyles, and Baker-led “I Just Want to Be Your Girl”.
After Ariola was taken over by Arista Records in 1979, Chapter 8 was dropped by the label which was convinced that Baker, as the band’s lead vocalist, lacked “star potential”. Baker returned to Detroit, working as a waitress and receptionist until in 1982 Otis Smith, a former associate of Ariola, convinced Baker to start a solo career under his Beverly Glen label.
After her first solo album, The Songstress, in May 1983, the album produced 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 10 single, reaching No. 5 on the R&B charts in late 1983. “You’re the Best Thing Yet” followed it into the R&B top 40 in early 1983. ‘Next year.
Despite this early success, Baker would later complain that she received no royalties from the work. Additionally, the label delayed work on Baker’s follow-up to The Songstress. In 1984, after two years, Baker sought to leave the label but 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, thus winning the case against Beverly Glen label owner Otis Smith. Baker then signed with the Elektra Records label associated with Warner Music Group in 1985 and began work on his next album.
Her Elektra contract allowed the singer to have creative control and produce her own music. In March 1986, Baker released his second album, Rapture.
While sales were initially slow following the release of the album’s first single, “Watch Your Step”, Elektra released the mid-tempo ballad, “Sweet Love”, which became his first pop hit, reaching eighth place on the Billboard Hot 100, also reaching the UK Top 20.
The album eventually launched three more 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 on tour, headlining his first tour,
The Rapture Tour, a show from which was later released on home video as A Night of Rapture. By 1988, the album had sold over 8 million copies worldwide, including 5 million in the United States alone.
The album won Baker 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.