After singing in church choirs as a child, Baker began her professional career with the Detroit band Chapter 8, which released an eponymously titled album on Ariola in 1980. After moving to L.A. she recorded her first solo album, The Songstress, which yielded the #5 R&B hit Angel" and won Baker the first of seven Grammy Awards to date. Despite legal difficulties from her former record label, Baker moved on to Elektra. Rapture, with its pop single Sweet Love" (#8), was an immediate and influential hit, ultimately selling more than 6 million copies.
Baker helped write some of Rapture's most popular tunes, including Sweet Love" and Watch Your Step"; as executive producer, she also collaborated on production and arranging. Her next album, Giving You the Best That I've Got, went to #1, its title track single climbing to #3. Compositions, recorded live in the studio and featuring Baker's own songs, played up her jazz sensibilities. Despite spawning no hit singles, it still went platinum.
In the years between Compositions and Rhythm of Love (#3 pop, #1 R&B, 1994), Baker sang with Frank Sinatra on his 1993 Reprise album, Duets, and gave birth to two sons.