Anita Baker is poised to release her first studio album in seven years on Sept. 25, and the single “Lately” is out Tuesday. Like other tunes on the collection, “Only Forever,” it exudes the elegant but earthy warmth that has made her singing synonymous with romance.
“I’d love to be the political voice of my generation, but that’s not my gift,” says Baker, 54. “Typically, the theme of my albums, if there is a theme, is, ‘How does it feel?’ And that always leads to love songs. It just does.”
Baker’s sons Walter, 19, and Ed, 18, have chosen to study music in college. “I’ve always encouraged them to follow their bliss,” she says. “My father worked on assembly lines in Detroit while I was growing up. Every day, I watched him do what he needed to do to support the family. But he told me, ‘Life is short. Do what you want to do.’ “