ANITA BAKER — multiple Grammy winner, composer, producer, mother, and all-around superstar — contemplated long and hard before she got ready to take her show on the road again. But finally, in early 2003, the woman who gave birth to “fireside love songs” and such classic gems as “Giving You the Best That I Got,” “Just Because,” and “Fairy Tales” pulled together her tight rhythm section and her faithful background singers and rehearsed; hoping to start a buzz and see if the timing was right, for a Welcome Back. She thought that her return would be like many singers, who, if gifted enough, have the opportunity to take a break and return to what they do best. Her “break” had spanned 10 years and the tone and the texture of the industry had changed. The singers were young and flexible; many of the songs were trite and questionable. Anita wondered if she built it, would they come. And come they did, in droves. They came because most singers are not Anita Baker.
Just as soon as she decided to get back onstage, amphitheatres and arenas came calling and legions of fans came running, taking the eight-time Grammy winner around the country, before crowds of excited music lovers who were as overwhelmed by her return as they had been stunned by her departure. “I needed to get away to rest, to take care of my family and to just spend some time with Anita, and my husband and my boys.” But in her time away, her singular and stellar voice could still be faithfully heard on R&B, jazz, and Adult Contemporary stations throughout the nation. However, the most peculiar thing is that it seemed that the rap/hip-hop genre, known as the Conscious of Music and often known to speak on things that others wouldn’t, seemed to herald her return before anyone, making reference to her in several songs, including the recent No. 1 hit single “Slow Jamz” by Twista and Kanye West. So powerful is her name in music that she is the only artist who is acknowledged in the song by only her first name. ANITA. This musical icon joined the illustrious roster of Blue Note Records with her long-awaited project, My Everything.
Anita’s Blue Note Records debut, My Everything was just that, a collection of the best attributes of Anita Baker – singer, songwriter, producer – wrapped in a lush package of ten brilliant songs. Her offerings are not just aural pleasure. Something about her music is visceral and tactile and you don’t just hear it, you feel it, you visit it and it washes over you.
The standout selection of the project is “Men in My Life.” Written by Anita Baker, but sung by Mrs. Anita Bridgeforth (her married name) and dedicated to Walter Sr., Walter Jr. and Eddie (her husband and two sons), “Men in My Life” is something so sweet and sincere, powerful and so poignant that we may have never heard before in music: a true tribute to family. A loving wife, knowing that she is revered around the world and adored by millions, pauses, even as she prepares to return to music in glorious triumph, to center herself, assure her family and inform us as we await her arrival, that her truest and most triumphant joy in life is the love of the men in her life. Offered in a voice so honest and vulnerable that you can almost hear the tears of joy roll down Anita’s eyes, this opus quiets any voice that wants to know why one of music’s most consistent composers has been gone so long. “Men in My Life” speaks to priorities and Anita’s have clearly been on raising a wonderful family. Now, “as the boys grow up and branch out,” Anita has decided “that I wanted my day job back” and she’s prepared to get back in the game on her own terms, just like she did from the beginning.
Anita Baker was born in Detroit, Michigan, always known as a musical hotbed, and started singing in church and later in groups throughout Detroit, before landing a gig with Chapter 8 (“they were the HOTTEST band in the land!”) with whom she had the hit “I Just Wanna Be Your Girl” in the early ’80s. Anita later went solo and recorded the classic collection The Songstress (“Angel,” and “No More Tears”) before finding her way to Elektra Entertainment and a decade-long collaboration that birthed such completely perfected projects as Rapture, Giving You the Best That I Got, Compositions, and The Rhythm of Love, and honing a powerhouse songbook that includes such masterpieces as “Watch Your Step,” “Been So Long,” “Lead Me Into Love,” “Talk to Me,” “Body and Soul” and “I Apologize.” Her mantel is filled with Grammy, Soul Train, NAACP Image, Billboard, and Rolling Stone awards and she has been heralded as one of the great stylists of our time.