Baker, Carroll

 Carroll (Ann) Baker. Singer, songwriter, b Bridgewater, NS, 4 Mar 1949. Her father, Gordon Baker, was a country fiddler. She was raised in Port Medway, NS, but moved to Toronto at 16. After singing casually with a bar band in Oakville, Ont, at 19, then at fairs and jamborees in southern Ontario, she began recording in 1970. Her first single, "Mem-ries of Home," for the Gaiety label (owned by Don Grashey, her manager until 1984 and the co-composer of some of her early songs), was a minor hit. Appearances followed in Ontario bars until, in 1975, she recorded Conway Twitty's "I've Never Been This Far Before." With that record and with a sensational appearance on the CBC's 1976 Juno Awards telecast, her career rose dramatically.

Two other Baker recordings for Gaiety were popular in 1975, "The Hungry Fire of Love" and "One Night of Cheatin' (Ain't Worth the Reapin')." She began recording for RCA in 1976 and had a succession of major Canadian hits with "Tonight with Love" and "Why I Had to Pass this Way," (1976), "It's My Party," "It's Late I Have to Go," and "The Morning After Baby Let Me Down" (1977), "I Might As Well Believe (I'll Live)," "Portrait in the Wind" and "Hooked on a Feeling" (1978), "I'm Getting High Remembering" (1979), "Hollywood Love" and "Still Falling in Love" (1980), and "Brand New Tears (For an Old Heartache)," and "The Second Time Around" (1982). Her recording of "Love Hangover" for Golden Eagle was popular 1982-3, as were several later singles for the Tembo label, "Heart on the Run" (1984), "It Always Hurts Like the First Time" (1985), "I'm Taking Care of Myself" (1986), "Arms That Love (Hearts That Don't)" (1987), "Cheater's Moon" (1988), and "Dreamin' Ain't Cheatin' (1990). "I Should Have Put a Hold on Love" charted in the top 20 in 1991. Baker also recorded duets with Eddie Eastman, Jack Scott, and Roger Whittaker.

Over 20 albums of Baker material have been issued, including titles by Gaiety and Columbia in the early 1970s, seven by RCA 1976-81, one by Excelsior in 1981, several by Tembo 1983-91, and one by EPE Records in 1994. Special compilations were marketed on TV by TeeVee in 1978, K-Tel in 1983, Quality Special Productions in 1985, and Silver Eagle in 1986. Three of her albums have exceeded sales of 100,000 in Canada: 20 Country Classics (TeeVee TA-1080) in 1978, Carroll Baker (RCA KPL1-0171) in 1979, and Hymns of Gold (Qual QRSP-1005) in 1986.

Starting with her early exposure through the 1976 Juno telecast, Baker had particular success on TV. She was seen in CBC "Superspecials" in 1978 and 1979 and in her own CBC summer series, "The Carroll Baker Jamboree," in 1983. She was seen as a frequent guest on "The Tommy Hunter Show" and on music awards shows and telethons. Her US appearances were largely on Nashville TV - eg, "Nashville Now" and TNN (The Nashville Network). In 1996 she starred in the BBS special Carroll Baker's Country Classics. Baker's touring itinerary included concert hall, nightclub, and convention appearances in Canada and several performances at the Wembley Festival in Great Britain.

One of the most popular Canadian country artists of the 1970s and 1980s, noted for the passion and forthright sensuality of her performances, Baker was nominated annually 1974-92 in the Juno awards' country female vocalist category and received the honour in 1977, 1978, and 1979. Among her Big Country Awards are those for best album (Carroll Baker on RCA) in 1976, and as top female singer annually 1976-8 and in 1980, 1981, and 1987. She was named entertainer of the year in 1979 and country artist of the year in 1980. She also received CCMA Awards as female vocalist of the year in 1982 and 1985 and for top-selling album (Hymns of Gold) in 1986, and for best-selling album (Christmas Carroll) in 1990. She was known as "Canada's Queen of Country Music." Over 50 songs co-written by Baker (with various collaborators) have been recorded.

Baker entered into semi-retirement in the 1990s, maintaining a reduced performance schedule. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, and was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Nova Scotia Country Music Association in 1997. For hosting many charity telethons, she was also honoured with the C.F. Martin Humanitarian Award. Baker became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2010.

Selected Discography

Hymns of Glory and Inspiration. 2002. RSPD 233

Hymns of Gold. 1994. EPE Records 14090-2