“I’ve never kind of been one to hang in the light too long. It burns my eyes. I need some shade,” says Grammy Award-winning singer Anita Baker. Unlike other artists who fade into the background after disappointing sales or lack of fan interest, the veteran multiplatinum artist — known for late ’80s and early ’90s hits such as “Sweet Love,” “Been So Long,” and “No One in the World”, dimmed the lights on her own career right when it seemed to shine brightest.
Her 1994 Grammy-winning album, “Rhythm of Love,” sold almost two million copies and included hits such as “I Apologize,” and in 1995 she wrapped up a successful tour.
“After ‘Rhythm of Love,’ I went home to recharge, and life just started happening,” says Baker.
During her time off, her days were very different than before.
“I’m used to getting up at 7, getting breakfast, getting the kids off to school, and doing the mommy thing and the wife thing and the daughter thing,” says Baker. “This is pretty self-absorbed and I’ve gotta kinda turn that faucet back on because that’s been turned off for quite a while.”
With two infant sons and a husband, Baker was more than happy to let go of the limelight to focus on being a wife and mother.
“My kids started growing up. I tried to leave and go cut the record, and I was like, ‘Dang, I can’t leave … I can’t leave these babies,'” she says. “I didn’t want to be in a situation where other people were raising my sons. We just settled into a very normal, suburban lifestyle, with two kids, a cat and a bird and a mommy and a daddy.”
But in time, she would also have to attend to two ailing parents — first her father, who would die of bone cancer, and her mother, who succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. Taking care of them — not singing — became her top priority.
“I put my family over my career for the last 10 years, and I didn’t intend to, but it just happened that way, and as it started to happen, it was like, this feels right,” she says.
“It’s impossible to write and produce a record when your parents are dying. I really tried, I really really…