Her request for creative control resulted in bringing Urban Contemporary music as a major commercial force.
“I'm picking and choosing in terms of the stress factor. If it's not fun, I'm not going to do it.” – Anita Baker
Our artist spotlight today focuses on a woman who just celebrated her 60th birthday on the 26th of January. Though she has recorded very little in the last few years, she has decided to treat her fans, coming out of her quietly imposed self-retirement and stage a final tour that kicks off on the first of March in just a few short days.
Anita Denise Baker was born in Toledo, OH and raised in Detroit, MI. It was there she started singing in church and with small groups around the Detroit area, eventually auditioning for a spot in the Smooth Jazz group Chapter 8 in 1978, forty years ago. She eventually recorded a solo album in 1983, The Songstress, for the tiny Beverly Glen label. In 1986, she was offered a recording contract with Elektra Records, a label not necessarily known for promoting Black or Urban artists, but she was allowed the one thing she wanted most: creative control over her music.
The resulting 1986 album, Rapture, signaled the rise of what would become the R&B sub-genre Urban Contemporary. It went on to sell over 6 million copies, and many of the songs became radio staples. Baker was the executive producer, and even co-wrote several of the tracks on it. It went on to win her the first two of her many Grammy awards. She would continue to replicate this feat several times, eventually growing tired of the music industry machinery.
Anita Baker at the 55th annual Grammy Awards, 2013. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.
Her last recorded piece of music was a 2013 cover of the track “Lately”, originally by Tyrese. Though no new music is planned by Baker, expect that on her upcoming tour, subjects such as romance, love and honesty still hold a much needed place in the hearts of many.
Our tracks this week: Title, Year, Source
1. Mystery, 1986, Rapture
2. You Belong to Me, 1994, Rhythm of Love
3. I Just Wanna Be Your Girl, 1979, Chapter 8 (Chapter 8)
4. Giving You the Best That I've Got, 1988, Giving You the Best That I've Got
5. Rhythm of Love, 1994, Rhythm of Love
6. Sweet Love, 1986, Rapture
7. Ain't No Need to Worry, 1987, Decisions (The Winans featuring Anita Baker)
8. Lately. 2013, digital single only release
9. Feel The Need, 1983, The Songstress
10. Lead Me Into Love, 1988, Giving You the Best That I've Got
11. Fairy Tales (full-length album version), 1990, Compositions
Love to you all.
Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner
Ace of Spades PDX
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