Known for her smooth, soulful alto and quiet storm of jazz and R&B, Anita Baker was an alluring presence in pop music during the 1980s, winning multiple Grammys and recording four platinum albums, including the acclaimed “Rapture.”
Abandoned by her teen mother at age 2 and raised by a foster family in Detroit, Baker discovered music early and was active in the church choir. Inspired by the sophisticated jazz vocalists Nancy Wilson and Sarah Vaughan, she sang in Detroit nightclubs as a teenager before joining the funk band Chapter 8, which released a little-noticed album in 1978 before she went solo. Her 1983 debut, “The Songstress,” drew only modest attention, but in 1986 came her breakthrough, the career-defining “Rapture.” It included the crossover hits “Sweet Love” and “You Bring Me Joy.”
Like “Songstress,” the album was produced by Michael J. Powell (formerly of Chapter 8), who remained onboard for the follow-ups “Giving You the Best That I Got” (1988) and “Compositions” (1990). Baker released only one more album in the '90s, “Rhythm of Love” in 1994, then went on hiatus to devote herself to raising her two children with husband Walter Bridgforth Jr.
In 2003, Baker delivered her first album in nearly a decade, “My Everything.” She released the holiday-themed “Christmas Fantasy” in 2005, and sang “Somewhere” (from “Westside Story”) on Dave Koz's 2007 album “At the Movies.” Baker received her star on the Walk of Fame in 1994.