Born and Raised:
Born: Jan. 26, 1958 in Toledo, Ohio.
Raised in Detroit, Michigan.
Anita Baker was born in Ohio, but raised in Detroit, Michigan. Her birth mother, who was only 16 when Anita was born, abandoned her, leaving her in the care of a woman who has been variously described as a friend and as a relative. The woman, Mary Lewis, became Anita's foster mother and growing up, Anita's family stressed the importance of religion and hard work. At age 12, she began singing in her church choir. When she was 13, her foster mother died and an older sister in her adoptive family told her the truth about her past. This older adoptive sister, Lois Landry, raised Anita from then on. At 16, Anita successfully auditioned for the group Chapter 8, having been approached by bass player David Washington, and spent the next few years playing in and around Detroit, eventually signing with the Ariola label. The group released their first and only album in 1979.
When the Los Angeles-based Ariola label was bought out by Arista Records, Chapter 8's contract was not renewed and Anita returned to Detroit, becoming a receptionist at a law firm. In 1982, she was coaxed back into the music business by a former Ariola executive who had started an independent label called Beverly Glen Music. Anita again relocated to Los Angeles and recorded her first solo album, The Songstress, which was released in 1983. The R&B/Jazz release was a modest hit at the time, but over a number of years, eventually sold a total of about 300,000 copies. It reached No. 12 on the R&B albums chart, mostly due to the hit single "Angel." Anita left the Beverly Glen label in 1984 to sign with Elektra Records, and it was during her decade with Elektra that she became a household name.
From the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, Anita released four albums, all of which generated multiple hit singles, including "Sweet Love" and "Caught Up in the Rapture" from her 1986 sophomore album, Rapture
; the title track from her 1988 album, Giving You the Best That I Got
; and "I Apologize," from the Rhythm of Love
album in 1994. After this, she went on a 10-year hiatus between albums in order to focus on raising her two sons. In March 2004, she signed a recording deal with Blue Note Records. Her first album under the contract, My Everything
, was released in September 2004. As of 2012, she is still signed to Blue Note, with an album titled Only Forever
expected to be released in October. The lead single is "Lately,"
a remake of a late-'90s song by singer-actor Tyrese
Anita married Walter Bridgforth Jr. on Dec. 24, 1988; the two separated less than 10 years later, and were officially divorced in 2008. They have two sons together, Walter Baker Bridgforth, who was born in 1993, and Edward Carlton Bridgforth, who was born in 1994.
2012: Only Forever
2005: Christmas Fantasy
2004: My Everything
1994: Rhythm of Love
1988: Giving You the Best That I Got
1983: The Songstress
Grammy Awards Won:
1996: Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, for "I Apologize."
1990: Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, for the album Compositions.
1989: Best Rhythm & Blues Song, for "Giving You the Best That I Got."
1989: Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, for "Giving You the Best That I Got."
1988: Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, for "Giving You the Best That I Got."
1988: Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group, Choir or Chorus (with The Winans), for "Ain't No Need to Worry."
1987: Best Rhythm & Blues Song, for "Sweet Love."
1987: Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, for the album Rapture.
"The test here is can I keep my analog heart and soul but still be of my time as well. If I'm here, I need to be able to adapt and move forward and express myself within the mediums of the day but still make it sound honest to who I am -- and that was a big task. I learned a lot transferring from analog to digital." Anita Baker to Billboard magazine in August 2012, regarding working on her eighth studio album, Only Forever.