Anita Baker was born on January 26, 1958, in Toledo, Ohio. Growing up she performed for church congregations. After singing church and rhythm-and-blues music between the ages of 12 and 16 she felt as though she should challenge herself musically, so she began to explore jazz.
Baker joined the funk band Chapter 8, who had a hit with the slow and sweeping “I Just Wanna Be Your Girl.” The band’s label Ariola later folded, and after staff made disparaging comments about Baker’s performance abilities, she decided to quit singing and worked as a law firm secretary. Nonetheless, Baker was courted by a former Ariola exec to join Beverly Glen Records; she was thus able to put forth her 1983 debut album, The Songstress( a solo album that sold more than 300,000 copies and spent more than a year on the charts).
Moving to Elektra, she served as executive producer of her next album, Rapture in 1986, which won two Grammy Awards, sold more than five million copies, and spawned two hit singles: “Sweet Love” and “You Bring Me Joy.” The album Giving You the Best That I’ve Got and a three-month tour with Luther Vandross followed in 1988, and Compositions was released in 1990; both albums won Grammys. Personal issues led Baker to take a four-year hiatus but in 1994 she returned with the album Rhythm of Love. In 1996 she signed with Atlantic Records.