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… tried, but it just wouldn’t come,” she said. “So I got dropped from the label. And again, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

It wasn’t until Baker’s mother died in 2002 that she decided to pick up the microphone again. She wasn’t looking to record an album — she just wanted to perform, to prevent grief from absorbing her.

One of the biggest lessons of her time off has been discovering different sides of herself — and learning that they are just as enriching, or perhaps more so, than singing.

“For years I thought that (singing) was all I could do, and it’s like ‘God, if I’m not singing, I’m worthless. I attached my self-worth to that,’ ” she says. “But I’ve come to find in the time that I spent way from the business I am valid outside of the business. I’m a good mother, I’m a good wife, I’m a good daughter … I’m a whole person.”

“Sometimes I wish I could change, but I don’t know how. I only know how to do me. All I’m ever interested in with my music is expressing what’s in my heart. I’ve never been interested in being a muse for a producer to express his creativity. I think the industry pressures artists to conform to whatever is happening at the time, and I’ve been a nonconformist my whole life.”

Anita Baker: “Sometimes I Wish I Could Change”  was originally published on

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