Jazzy and soulful Anita Baker took the music world by storm with her stupendous album, Rapture.
Baker’s previous album, The Songstress, released in 1983, featured beautiful songs such as “Angel,” “No More Tears” and “You’re the Best Thing Yet.” It helped Baker build a strong fan base and also helped set the tone for her next album.
Every song on Rapture is a standout. The romantically laced album was produced by Baker’s friend Michael Powell, who was a member of her former group Chapter 8. It opens with the sensual ballad “Sweet Love,” which Baker co-wrote. Her superb vocal styling was unique and distinctive and her range was incredible. This was even more evident on the second track “You Bring Me Joy.” Baker sang with a relaxed vocal on the dreamy “Caught Up In the Rapture.” Baker wrote the fourth track–the jazzy “Been So Long”–and showcased more of her unique phrasing and ad-libbing.
The fifth track was the seductively mystical and magical “Mystery,” followed by “No One in the World” and the mid-tempo “Same Ole Love.” The album ended with the uptempo “Watch Your Step.”
Rapture went to number one on the R&B charts for three weeks beginning in September 1986– spending 108 weeks on the chart, and number 11 on the pop charts. This album put Baker on the map in the music industry, becoming platinum and selling 5 million copies.
The album yielded four singles: “Watch Your Step” (#23 R&B), “Sweet Love” (#2 R&B, # 8 pop), “Caught Up in the Rapture” (#6 R&B, #37 pop), “Same Ole Love” (#8 R&B, #44 pop) and “No One in the World” (#5 R&B, #44 pop).
Baker was also victorious a year later at the Grammy Awards. She won Best Rhythm & Blues song “Sweet Love” and Best Vocal R&B Performance, Female for the Rapture album. She also won Best Single Female for “Sweet Love” at the 1987 Soul Train Music Awards.
Baker went on to record other great albums in her classic and classy style, but nothing will top Rapture. It solidified her as a singer to be reckoned with. It also showcased the importance of a singer having a distinctive, individuality in one’s singing voice. Baker indeed captures that and then some.
Stephen McMillian is a journalist, writer, actor, filmmaker, dancer, Soul Train historian and soul music historian.