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b. 26 January 1958, Toledo, Ohio, USA. The granddaughter of a minister, Baker had a religious upbringing that included church music and gospel singing. After vocal duties with local bands she joined the semi-professional Chapter 8 in 1979 and was the vocalist on their minor US chart hit, ‘I Just Wanna Be Your Girl’, the following year. Several years later she left the band and was working in an office when she persuaded the Beverly Glenn label to record and release her debut album in 1983. The Songstress brought her to wider notice and after disagreements with Beverly Glenn she chose to sign with Elektra Records. Her second album was partly funded by Baker herself, who also acted as executive producer, with former Chapter 8 colleague Michael Powell assisting with writing and production. Rapture, a wonderfully mature and emotional album, saw Baker hailed as ‘a female Luther Vandross’ and she began to win R&B awards with ‘Sweet Love’, ‘Caught Up In The Rapture’ and ‘Giving You The Best That I Got’.
In 1987, Baker appeared on the Winans’ ‘Ain’t No Need To Worry’ and in 1990 duetted with former Shalamar singer Howard Hewett. Compositions was self-penned bar two tracks and featured former Wonderlove musician Greg Phillinganes on keyboards, Steve Ferrone on drums, along with top Los Angeles session drummer Ricky Lawson, and Nathan East on bass. The album was recorded live in the studio with few overdubs.
The birth of Baker’s first child delayed the release of her fourth Elektra album, the disappointing Rhythm Of Love. She subsequently signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records, and in 1998 made a guest appearance on jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut’s self-titled collection. Her own debut for the label never surfaced, however, and in 2004 she signed a new contract with Blue Note Records. A number of sessions with producer Barry Eastmond helped break down Baker’s long-term creative block, and a new studio album was finally ready for release in September. Fortunately, My Everything was well worth the wait.