Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Baker, Anita

Anita Baker was born January 23, 1958 in Toledo, Ohio. Her mother was a young teenager who gave her up for adoption to a Detroit couple, Mary and Grandville Lewis. Later, she was adopted by their daughter Lois Landry and her husband Daddy Landry.

After high school, Baker was asked to join a local Detroit musical group called Chapter 8, which had signed a record deal with Ariola Records. The group only recorded one album, and Baker was cited as being a mediocre lead singer. Baker left the music business and took a job working in a Detroit law office. In 1983, she was asked to record an album for Beverly Glen record label. A roughly arranged album titled “The Songstress” was soon released. The album caught the attention of Elektra Records, giving Baker her first major record deal.

For her first record under her new label, Baker teamed up with her former Chapter 8 band mate Michael Powell and released the album “Rapture.” The second single off the album earned Baker her first Grammy nominations and wins for Best R&B Female Vocalist and Best R&B Song. In 1988, she released her third album, “Giving You the Best I Got”. The album earned Baker three more Grammies, and confirmed her nickname as the Lady of Soul. Two years later, in 1990, Baker released an album titled “Compositions.” The album was personal to Baker, as it featured songs she wrote on her own. Even though “Compositions” reached the top five on the Pop and Soul Chart, it did not win the critical acclaim of her previous albums.

Baker released her fourth studio album, “Rhythm of Love” in 1994, but declined to go on tour so she could concentrate on her family, husband Walter Bridgforth and two sons. Soon thereafter, Baker suffered several traumatic events when her father, Daddy Landry, passed away from bone cancer in 1998. A few years later, her mother, Lois Landry, developed Alzheimer’s and passed away. Around this time Baker’s marriage begin to suffer, and she lost her record deal with Elektra.

In 2000, Baker signed with Atlantic Records and began recording again. However, the entire album was recorded on faulty tapes and it was never released. Two years later, in 2002, Rhino Records released “The Best of Anita Baker,” featuring her greatest hits from 1983-2002. In 2004, Baker signed with her fourth label, Blue Note Records. She released her first studio album in 10 years, entitled “My Everything.” The album reached the top ten on the Pop and Soul Chart and earned Baker another Grammy nomination.

In all, Anita Baker has won eight Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards and numerous other awards, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With four Platinum Albums and two Gold Albums, Baker has been credited for popularizing the Urban Adult Contemporary music genre. In 2011, Baker plans to release her seventh studio album “21st Century Love.” Anita Baker, “the true soul of Detroit” currently lives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Written by Ben Robinson Eastern Michigan University

 


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