Black Women For Black Music Month! Anita Baker
This lady had us “caught up in the rapture of love” with her smoky contralto vocals, smooth enough to sing a new born baby to rest with no struggle. Soulful jazz singer-songwriter Anita Baker is a classic act that has been vital to many African-American homes in the ’80s as she showcased a new way to enjoy the classic sounds of R&B and jazz infused over supreme lyrics.
Anita got her kick start in the church where she began singing in a baptist choir at the age of 12. At age 16 she was in a band called Humanity, which included fellow high school friends. She later joined popular Detroit group Chapter 8 in 1975 and they spent 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. After things went sour with the Ariola deal, Anita made ends meet as she 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. Having a nostalgic experience of Anita’s special voice, he reached out. At first Anita refused 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 was quickly turned around.
The fabulous album Songstress hit the streets in 1983. Spring 1984, Anita has had four 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 extremely odd at that that time, 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,” which is her best selling record to date. The album received US platinum in only six months and the success on the chart’s meant a total sale of over 8 million records worldwide. The following Grammy awards gave her 2 Grammy’s. Memorable classic tracks “Sweet Love,” “Caught Up In the Rapture,” and “Same Ole Love.” Other pieces of work to follow included Givin You The Best That I Got and Rhythm Of Love. Rumor has it that Anita is slated to drop yet another record this year, titled 21st Century Love. -Shabazz