Wednesday 12 December 2012

[Vocal Profile] Anita Baker

anita baker music entertainment
Anita Baker

Vocal Type:Contralto
Vocal Range:3 Octaves C#3-C#6
Whistle Register:No
Vocal Pluses:  A unique voice that has an identifiable character that runs through the range and the registers. The voice, as a whole, is smooth, warm, and mature and Anita Baker wields it with exceptional skill: being incredibly natural with her delivery, while also effortlessly technical. Though capable of great vocal dexterity  [ Hear the ending of Body And Soul ], it's not something that she is prone to showing off, instead relying on her emotive voice, her mastery over dynamics, and the melody of her material to impress.

Despite hitting, on record, a low that isn't exceptionally so- when compared to other Divas- Anita Baker's voice has all the qualities of a contralto. The voice is weighty, dark, and at ease in the lower extremes- something others who can hit lower can't always claim. It also has a slight rasp to it that rounds out the tone, creating it's trademark smoothness.

As well as it being easy for Anita Baker to pitch low notes, she is also just as capable in the top of her range: being able to belt an incredible fifth octave Bb[Hear:No More Tears]. Of course, within the fifth octave the voice begins to lose some of its weight- increasingly so from about an E5- but even then, though the tone becomes thinner, as it is mixed, it retains many of its identifiable qualities.

As mentioned, Anita Baker's voice has a consistent sound throughout, but what is most surprising about this, is that it extends right up into the head voice. So whereas many Divas produce a head voice tone that sounds uncharacteristic of their lower range, Anita Baker produces rich, buttery notes that are just as identifiable, and relatable to her modal range. Effectively, this gives the illusion of no break or disconnect in the voice, adding to the overall effortless quality of it [Hear: Sweet Love 3.18 onwards].

Vocal Negatives: The voice does have a flattened, nasal quality about it that some may find not to their taste.


  1. A silky contralto that is instantly recognizable -- high, middle, or low. She's not a huge show-off so when she does show some of her tricks, they have a great deal of artistic value. I would also add she's taken good care of her voice. Her live version of "Sweet Love" done at Radio City Music Hall this year is almost indistinguishable from the studio version. I was impressed as this woman is well into her 50s and still strutting her stuff.

  2. "So whereas many Divas produce a head voice tone that sounds ubiquitous and uncharacteristic of their lower range, Anita Baker produces rich, buttery notes that are just as identifiable, and recognisable, as her modal range."

    Doesn't make much sense

    Otherwise well-done

  3. I'll give it an edit at some point to clarify.

  4. I love Anita Baker. She is awesome.

  5. Women with deep singing voices are the best.

  6. Thank you for adding Anita. Your observations are spot on. She is one of my all-time favorite vocalists. Definitely buttery notes!

    Hard to believe that Arista Records dropped her former band, Chapter 8, because they didn't like her voice! Who said that? Clive Davis? Regardless, Anita had the last laugh!


    Anita Baker cannot sing. She is solely studio made. Listen to her live!!!!

  8. If she went up to a C7 she would be capable of the whistle register. she has a very earthy and grounded voice with Jazz like colors to it. she could either be a Lyric or spinto contralto

  9. She is a lyric coloratura....

  10. Primo Uomo Assoluto10 December 2013 at 06:04

    coloratura contralto? unlikely. What songs does she have displaying coloratura vocal ability?

  11. Sweet love she actually reaches notes far higher than a true lyric contralto like Cher... Anita has a slight advantage in range and mellismas and head placement than Cher.

  12. I always thought she was a lyric mezzo-soprano. I mean this woman has an extraordinary mix that can carry her into the 6th octave. Also, I've never seen her implement coloratura technique.

  13. Coloratura contraltos—who have light, agile voices ranging very high for the classification and atypically extensive coloratura and high sustaining notes—specialize in florid passages and leaps. Given its deviations from the classification's norms, this voice type is quite rare.

    She has shown capabilities going from low to high, using mix voice along with head voices, and growls and mellismas...

  14. She strikes me as a mezzo regardless. I don't hear much of anything that would lead me to beleive she is a contralto. She has a slightly darker color than a normal mezzo but that just isn't enough to make me beleive she is a contralto considering she sounds as bright as what I'd expect from a mezzo above G#4 anyways.

  15. I can see that, but she is a light contralto to me. Yes she has brights midrange, but she also has clear and strong contralto low notes. And her lows sound androgynous not forced.

    Comparing her to lyric mezzos like Celine, or Beyonce her voice does not pierce it enough as a true mezzo would, her voice still carries the weight up until she utilizes her head and forced falls. voice.

    Her natural and comfortable placement screams contralto to me.

  16. I wouldn't compare her to Beyonce because Beyonce is not the best example of a mezzo. She has a very soprano-like voice in every register. A better comparison would be between Anita and Anouk, even Toni Braxton. All three of the women have thick, womanly timbres, with bright medium sized volume output. Also Anouk can sing quite well in mezza voce which if, I recall, is what Anita uses too. Both women have extraordinary mixes but Anouk sits slightly lower than Anita surprisingly and its quite clear that she is a lyric mezzo.

    But I understand and respect your views. I just don't consider tessituras in pop as a dead give away for contraltos. If the color isn't uniformly androgynous all the way up to C#5 then I doubt I'm listening to a contralto.

  17. I am a contralto... Toni Braxton, Anita, Tina Turner, Cher songs are in my field of comfortability. Singing songs in the field of mezzos sopranos such as Whitney, Barbara Streisand, Betty Middler, Celine, Charice, is pushing my voice to different placement and technique.

    I can base contraltos and mezzos based on how I can sing it.

    Anita songs are not difficult to sing for me, and even her head voices I can reach on full voice in "caught up in rupture" and "sweet love". She is a contralto. And before you say anything I am not a mezzo I am a proven Contralto.

    Many contralto such as Anita Baker are light voice and not all contraltos sound like Cher. Or Momma Thornton. Also just because Toni Braxton is capable of dramatic changes and can reach mezzo and soprano notes does not change the fact that she is best comfortable in her low range, she even said she can't sing Whitney songs because her voice is not a ''mezzo'' look up the video where they interview her in the clive davis party. Her mother is an opera singer who had trained all the sisters to sing. Toni also does not sound like Anita since her tone is heavier and deeper with the capability of staying in the low 2's longer. The contralto voice is very hard to explain Because many mezzos can mimic the lower notes but there is a difference when you hear them sing. A true contraltos voice like Toni's low notes should base in her chest "let it flow" "he wasn't man enough" "Be my baby" and mezzos cannot without losing air or cracking. Belts also sound robust and thick like Toni and head voices are heavy as oppose to a light ring or pierce.

    I know I gave you an earful but Contralto voices are the hardest to explain.

    People Always compare Toni to Anita but she sound more like Cher to me.

    Listen to Toni Braxton's song called "Woman" Or "If I have to wait" I sang this song for Rich Fink to showcase my coloratura Contralto ability for vocal classifying in harmony.

    Both Anita and Toni are contraltos with two very different classification.

  18. I understand your points and I won't argue over what your voice type is considering I never heard you. LOL, but if you want to listen to a light contralto. Listen to Anastasia Prikhodko. She is the "lightest" contralto I've ever heard and she's by no means light. Toni isn't even a very low mezzo. She just has a dark color. Comfort is also another thing that I understand changes from individual rather than vocal classifications. Jazmine Sullivan's voice is a prime example of a mezzo-soprano's versatility. She has the thickest voice I've heard on a mezzo-soprano but is also one of the most agile mezzo-soprano's I've ever heard. At first listen you'd think she's a contralto but she has an incredibly bright belting register and small-to medium sized volume output. She simply a light-lyric mezzo.

    Whitney and Celine are both sopranos and Whitney was a strong mid-belter (A4-E5) but both have passagios too high to be mezzos. If they were mezzos with their vocal colors they'd sound much lower.

    Also, I was not saying they sound alike, I was saying that their voices sit similarly despite their differing vocal colors and approaches to singing. What I'm trying to explain is that the mezzo-soprano fach is incredibly wide, ranging from incredibly high mezzo-soprano's like Beyonce to incredibly low mezzo-soprano's like Jazmine Sullivan.

    Crack a listen to this.

  19. Jazmine is a mezzo, I love her and listen to her a lot. But her songs are not as low as Toni at least the ones I have sung, however I am not saying that Toni cannot reach mezzo and soprano notes because she has.

    However as a contralto I can also sing Whitney, and Celine songs and reach their notes. Unlike true sopranos like Mariah or Patti Label where i struggle more.

    I can sing every note on saving all my love for you including the head voice and I will always love you and my heart will go on. With no to little tension and I don't even crack.

    I don't think they are sopranos. my mom who is a trained soprano can't even sing I will always love you in the beginning of the verses because it's too low for her.

  20. Well saving all my love and always love you have alot of 4th octave belts. Where their voices break into flasetto is what reveals that they are lower set sopranos. And what Jazmine songs do you like? I fucking love her! Lol...

  21. Everyone believes Anita Baker is a contralto except you. you love to classify all of them as mezzos. well this one your definitely wrong.

  22. that is also a mezzo characteristic fyi, And some dramatic and coloratura sopranos...

    lol bust your windows is my fave from her for the mere subject. I like angry and female empowerment song, and she sangs it...

  23. I like her song call me guilty...LMAO...

  24. It does not reveal any sopranos characteristic.

    Whitney's voice reveals a dramatic midrange voice, she is not a high extreme singer, and when she sang with Mariah you can def tell where her mezzo range lies when Mariah a great example of a soprano had to take on the higher note.

    She was always a dramatic mezzo, even when she was young, but her coloratura ability died down as she got older.

    A true soprano like Mariah would still be reaching notes int heir late 30's and 40's. Whitney never had the ability to sing in soprano highs without straining.

  25. She still strikes me as a soprano just a lower-set one. Her tessitura was too high to be a dramatic mezzo IMHO.

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  27. She looks sick. lol