SoulTracks Lost Gem: We remember "When" Anita Baker and Howard Hewett shone together

Share this article

    This SoulTracks Lost Gem is a duet that pairs two vocalists who were at the height of their powers when this song was released in 1990. Both Howard Hewett and Anita Baker dropped highly regarded albums that year, and “When Will It Be,” a track from Hewett self-title album, found the pair coming together.

    Baker was on a roll. Rapture, released in 1986, firmly established her as a jazz infused R&B singer who had massive crossover appeal. Two years later she released Giving You the Best that I Got, another multi-platinum smash with a title track that became a wedding day standard. She followed that album up with Compositions in 1990. Baker put more of her personal touch on this project, becoming more involved in the songwriting and production progress and fusing more jazz elements into the work, as can be seen on tracks such as “Fairy Tales.”

    This SoulTracks Lost Gem is a duet that pairs two vocalists who were at the height of their powers when this song was released in 1990. Both Howard Hewett and Anita Baker dropped highly regarded albums that year, and “When Will It Be,” a track from Hewett self-title album, found the pair coming together.

    Baker was on a roll. Rapture, released in 1986, firmly established her as a jazz infused R&B singer who had massive crossover appeal. Two years later she released Giving You the Best that I Got, another multi-platinum smash with a title track that became a wedding day standard. She followed that album up with Compositions in 1990. Baker put more of her personal touch on this project, becoming more involved in the songwriting and production progress and fusing more jazz elements into the work, as can be seen on tracks such as “Fairy Tales.”

    Hewett came to national attention in the late 1970s and early 80s as a member of the group Shalamar. Hewett went solo when Shalamar disbanded in the mid-1980s, and starting in 1986, he released solo projects that showcased his skill as a romantic balladeer, becoming a mainstay on the R&B charts and a constant presence on Quiet Storm radio. Hewett’s debut album, I Commit to Love, peaked at number 12 on the R&B charts and singles “I’m For Real” and “Stay” became top 10 hits. Hewett explored his gospel roots with “Say Amen” and that resulted in an instant gospel classic that had surprising crossover appeal. Hewett’s second project, 1988s Forever and Ever had brought Hewett two top 15 hits.

    Hewett, like Baker, returned in 1990 with a self-titled album which gave him the hits “Show Me” and “If I Could Only Have that Day Back,” and it is on that album that these two legendary vocalists came together for the song “When Will It Be.” When two expert renderers of the romantic ballad come together, the expectation is that they will give you something that is all about love. And they did just that, but not in the way you’d expect. The tune finds Baker and Hewett uniting to ask when will humanity fully embrace the virtues of equality, peace, prosperity and love. Their answer? When humanity truly commits to making those virtues a worldwide reality. Hewett and Baker sound good whether they are singing about eros or agape. Check out “When Will It Be” here.

    By Howard Dukes

     
    Choice Cut - Sargent Tucker - "Good Music"
    Album of the Month - Joan Belgrave - "Oooo Boy"