Anita's Biography:
The Life and Work of Anita Baker
Date of Birth
26th of January 1958, Toledo, Ohio, USA.
Even though, I have seen her DOB falsely published on a few sites as 20th of December 1957.

"Whatever it Takes"
Miss Anita Baker was born in Ohio, but raised in Detroit, Michigan. Her earliest musical experience was singing in church, so undoubtedly gospel music has always been important to her. At home, however, with her grandparents (with whom she lived),- and then later with the Lewis family (who cared for her after the death of her grandparents) the young Anita was surrounded by a diverse range of music from jazz stylists like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Nancy Wilson.

By the time Anita was a teenager, she was singing with local bands. After an audacious performance of the gospel classic "His Eye is On the Sparrow" and the Rufus & Chaka Khan hit "Smokin' Room", she joined Chapter 8 in 1976. Chapter 8 was, at the time, one of the most popular groups in Detroit. In 1980, Chapter 8 had what was to one of their biggest and few hits, "I Just Want to Be Your Girl," now considered to be an R and B classic. However, as any artiste can attest to; there is a big difference between having solid artistic credentials and pulling in those all-important record sales. Unfortunately, for the group their record company was unhappy with their perfromance in this latter area. The ensuing strife included the group's contract not being renewed, and Anita being told that she couldn't sing.

Discouraged, Anita waited tables for a while, before accepting an offer of employment from a Detroit law firm. Fame came calling again, in the form of a call from a record exective who had seen her perform with Chapter 8 at a Los Angeles club. With some intial trepidation, she went out West. The result of this chance was the 1983 album "The Songstress". This album was a small success, which paved the way for a host of bigger things to come; two of the album's singles "Angel" and "No More Tears" led R and B music lovers to Anita. In addition, the record's popularity was enough to warrant a tour.

By 1985, Anita was able to sign up to Elektra records, and release "Rapture" the following year. (This is my personal favourite of all her albums). It was this album which established Anita Baker as a world-wide musical tour de force. It was also this album that afforded her the opportunity to stretch her skills; she wrote "Been So Long" and "Watch Your Step", and contributed to the almighty "Sweet Love". "Sweet Love" has proved to be THE signature Anita Baker tune, that people who think they're unfamiliar with her music know. By the time "Rapture" had completed its chart run, it had sold 6 million copies worldwide and also earned Anita two Grammys.

"Giving the Best That She Got"
Anita took advantage of all the opportunity provided by "Rapture". Her first world tour was in 1987, and took her from New York's Radio City Hall to London's Wembly Arena, earning her fantastic reviews from both her audience and critics.
In 1987, Anita collaborated with The Winans on the single "Ain't No Need to Worry" and this single got Anita her third Grammy award.

In 1988, Anita released "Giving You the Best That I Got", which sold another 4.5 million copies wordwide. Critics noted that, single-handedly, through her first two albums, "Anita Baker has set a new standard and helped redefine the sound of contemporary music recorded by female vocalists in the '80s and the '90s." 1988 was a special year for Anita, because not only did she win two more Grammys, but it was also on Christmas Day of that year that she married Walter Bridgforth, an IBM marketing executive and real estate developer. The pair met in a Detroit nightclub during her "Rapture" tour. Most of the following year was spent touring touring with many artistes, including Luther Vandross. She also earned her sixth Grammy in this year. Despite her enormously busy schedule, Anita and Walter found time to move into a luxurious home in Grosse Pinte, just outside Detroit. Anita had a special fondness for Gross Pointe, because as a girl, her grandparents would take her for drives around that area.

Anita returned back to the studio in 1990 for her third Elektra album "Compositions." Anita wrote seven of the songs on this Grammy winning album, including the hits "Talk to Me," "Fairy Tales," "No One to Blame," and "Whatever it Takes" (co-written with Gerald Levert). After almost five years of touring, performing, and recording non-stop, Anita took a break, only taking time off to record the old standard "Witchcraft" with Frank Sinatra for his 1993 "Duets" album.

"Anita the Mum"
In January of 1993, Anita gave birth to her first child, a boy named Walter Baker Bridgforth. Just five months later, she started recording a new album: "When I was pregnant my voice had pretty much left me. I had no control over it, but I wasn't trying to rush anything. I was feeling a certain kind of euphoria and happiness (after little Walter was born) and I just started working on new songs...." Anita penned five of the songs for the album, including "Plenty of Room" a song dedicated to her son. Anita recorded some of the tracks in her living room: "Let's see, we did Only For a While, Baby, Sometimes I wonder Why, It's Been You and The Look of Love at home." In fact, (renowed musician) Joe Sample was playing piano in my den while i was singing in my living room on that one!" In May of 1994, with most of the "Rhythm of Love album completed, Anita gave birth to a second son, Edward Carlton. "I was in the studio up until the end of my eight month. I came in waddling every night, and would leave at 3 or 4 in the morning..."

The title track was inspired by her three-year break from the industry: "During the last few years, I learned to live by the internal rhythm which we all have rather than by the external circumstances of life. Childbearing taught me that there really is a universal rhythm...." Despite her continued hectic schedule, Anita made sure that her family remained her Number 1 priority: "You know, I'm so many different people now. I'm 'the general' that sounds the charge at 8.30 in the morning when the nannies come a knockin' and the diapers have to be changed and it's time to get the day coordinated. I'm the one who sounds the charge as the interior designer in the new house we moved into a few months ago....."

That lakefront 15-room mansion is the center for all of Anita's activities when she's at home but "at 5 o'clock, the office is closed, the nannies go home, the fax machine is turned off, and it's time to roll around with the babies and have some dinner with the family. It's quite a challenge with two children to take care of, but I'm getting used to it. When I want to relax, one of my favorite activities is sitting out back and watching the boats sail by ...." Anita has always been a big supporter of important causes including child immunization. She and Walter also established a foundation to help less-privildeged children acquire scholarships to attend school.

Even though it has been a while since Anita has been in the media spotlight, she continues to shine on in the hearts and minds of people the world over, who love her music.

Culled from "Anita Baker: An Appreciation" by David Nathan (1994)

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