Anita was born January 26, 1958 in Toledo, Ohio and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. She began singing in church choir when she was 12 and at 16 sang in a local group along with high school friends. In 1975 she successfully auditioned for the group Chapter 8, having been approached by bass player David Washington, and spent the next few years playing in and around Detroit, eventually signing with Ariola, releasing an album in 1979. However, when Ariola was bought out by Arista, the group's contract was not renewed.
Anita returned to Detroit, finally working with a law firm as a receptionist. In 1981, Otis Smith, who was the man behind Chapter 8's contract, formed his own label, Beverly Glenn. He contacted her in 1982 and offered her a deal which at first she refused, but when Smith increased the amount of his original offer, and the contract was approved legally, she accepted, releasing the album "Songstress" in 1983. In 1986 she signed with Elektra, and at the same time was an executive producer on "Rapture", her debut album for the label, which sold over 6 million records worldwide. She won two Grammy awards: Best R&B Female Performance for the album "Rapture" and Best R&B Song for "Sweet Love".
In 1987, Anita began work on her follow-up album "Giving You The Best That I Got" in between a busy performance schedule. This album was also awarded three Grammies: one in1989 for Best R&B Female Performance, one in 1990 for Best R&B Song ("Giving You The Best That I Got") and one for Best R&B Song ("Just Because"). She took a more involved role in the song-writing for her third album, Compositions, also moving towards experimenting with jazz. The album contained 7 self-penned songs and was mostly cut live.; the album won her a 7th Grammy award for Best R&B Female Performance.
On Christmas Eve 1988, she married Walter Bridgforth, Jr, whom she had met two years earlier in her home of Detroit and in January 1993, gave birth to a son, Walter Baker Bridgforth. Five months later Anita started working on her next project, "Rhythm of Love" and produced most of the album, which was mainly recorded in her home due to another pregnancy, writing 5 out of the 12 songs. In September 1994 (after the birth of her second son, Edward Carlton Bridgforth earlier that year) the album was released and attracted an 8th Grammy for Best R&B Song ("I Apologize") in 1995.
Sadly, her parents died within two years of each other; her mother in 1996 and her father 2 years later, and during this time, attempted to record and release a new CD. Unfortunately, the tracks recorded for the new CD were damaged in the recording process and could not be salvaged. Anita sued and won the case against Elektra, later signing with Atlantic Records.
During her career, she has appeared with other artists such as The Winans, Howard Hewitt, and James Ingram, and since December 2002 has began to tour again on a limited basis.