"So if you're in the valley and life is so unkind, and if your tears keep falling from your tired eyes; your burden seems so heavy and it's hard to smile, you must remember, it's only for a while..." Anita Baker - Only For A While
With so many albums in my catalogue, it is really hard to pick one to focus on because I get a bit too excited. But today's pick for album of the week, came to me in an instant. This artist is most definitely one of my favorite female soul/jazz/R&B singers EVER. Some will say that she has not been on the scene long enough to be considered an "icon" per say (my answer to that is whatever man...), but there is no contesting what she brought to the world of R&B, soul and jazz. I mean come on, ask Mary J Blige and she will tell you. Mary's career got a jump start by singing one of this illustrious singer's songs on her demo. The singer of the week is artist and songwriter extraordinaire Anita Baker and the chosen album is Rapture.
I honestly don't even know where to start with Anita (and yes, her and I are on a first name basis). Anita has been my Linus blanket for a very long time. Whenever I am going through a rough time trying to get over the obstacles of life, out comes Anita. She has been lifted to guardian angel status in my book. Close friends know once an Anita Baker marathon starts on my end, I am definitely in a contemplative vibe. I had the pleasure and joy of seeing Mrs. Baker in concert last year and no words can explain the vibe from that show. Every word was sung from every song on my part, causing me to spend the next day at work with "man voice", but it was well worth it. I could start by talking about her early work with Chapter 8 and her album Songstress that gave me and everyone else "Angel". A song that will definitely be dedicated to my future significant other, wherever you are, but that is a whole other story...
Rapture is a 6x platinum, double Grammy award winning album. It is one of those rare albums that can be played from beginning to end, on repeat for days on end. Almost every song on this album was released as a single—"Sweet Love", "You Bring Me Joy", "Caught Up In The Rapture", "No One In The World", "Same Ole Love" and "Watch Your Step". 6 out of 8 tracks were released, that cannot be said for a lot of soul albums today. Or would I be pushing it if I said ANY soul albums of today? Anita Baker came to us at a time when sangin' was no joke. In order for you to be in the music game, you had to come correct or not at all. Even the one hit wonders who succumbed to lip syncing, had to be able to sing. That is serious business right there. With contemporaries at the time being Regina Bell, Stephanie Mills and such you had to have vocals to be on par or better than the rest. Anita Baker has been said to single handedly carve the niche of adult contemporary music for her female counterparts. So even though, as some may argue with me, that she is not an "icon", I beg to differ. Do not look at the quantity of work, look at the quality. She may not have 20 albums under her belt, but her discography is a reflection of amazing work from an incomparable artist. Anita's voice is angelic, bone chilling and heart felt. At times tumultuous and then seductive. Her songwriting skills are astonishing always focusing on her favorite topic of choice—love. Love lost, love found, love endearing, it was and always is all about love. We can't be mad at that now can we?
There are so many things to say about Anita Baker's other albums, but you best believe that they will be discussed in the future. There really is not much to be found about her since she is not on the scene. However her latest info can be found on Bluenote's website. I have also included a site that lists Anita's discography, you can purchase anyone or all of them where ever you like, just as long as you do! And lastly, check out my peoples at SoulBounce, they are presently in the midst of counting down their Top 100 Soul and R&B Songs. Mrs. Anita's "Sweet Love" was # 91. If you do not have any of her albums, you can go ahead and cheat. Go out and buy her best of, you actually get the cream of the crop and I won't be mad at ya. All the same, if you are not up on Mrs. Anita Baker's work at all, please—GET ON IT!
Flashback of the day: this was a hard one. I was not sure which Anita track to go with. I almost did not get through writing this entry because I am jamming a bit too hard with Rapture. However, the choice has finally been made, so here is one of my favorities!! What's your favorite Anita Baker track? Let me know!
Have a phenomenal weekend, see y'all on Monday...