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View from the West: Embracing Autumn... and Anita

The legedary singer gears up to release her first album in eight years.

In my perfect world, the sun always shines, the mercury hovers at the 78 degree mark and I get to rotate my ever-expanding collection of bejeweled sandals all year long. But that’s just a fantasy. After moving 3,000 miles from home in search of eternal bliss, I’ve learned that the sun doesn’t shine simply because I ask, and it’s best to keep a light jacket on hand in case it gets chilly. Sometimes, it even rains in southern California. We have seasons, too — kinda, sorta.
All that said, I’ve been trying my best to come to terms with the fact that summer 2012 is quickly slipping from my grasp. Part of me wants everything to remain as it is in this moment, but when I saw Anita Baker at the Hollywood Bowl last week, I was reminded that there are, in fact, a handful of things that I’m looking forward to this fall, including her new album, Only Forever, due on October 23. But before I get to my list, I just have to share a few musings from her sold-out show.

Anita commanded the audience from the moment she stepped onto the stage in her long black dress and sparkly pumps. She was in beautiful voice and, to my surprise, performed nearly every song from the Rapture album, and then some. Heaven! Listening to her sing about love and life on a breezy summer night was truly a magical experience. She even had Tamia (who’s got new music coming soon, too) join her for “Caught Up in the Rapture,” and later she handed the spotlight over to Lalah Hathaway, who poured her entire being into “Angel.”  Did I mention that her son was on drums, too? I’m still in awe.

Okay, so the list. Here’s a rundown of the sure-to-be-wonderful things that I’m anxiously awaiting — with a quick circle-back to Anita, of course!  

The Steve Harvey Show
Having made his presence felt on stage, screen, radio and in literature (and scoring a near-$100 million box office hit with his bestselling book-turned-film), Harvey’s taking a stab at daytime television with his self-titled chat fest, premiering September 4. I wonder what he’s got up his sleeve.

Zadie Smith’s New Novel
Although I’m nowhere near done with my summer reading, I think I’ll have to add Zadie’s upcoming novel, NW, to the top of my list. After reading many a glowing review of her intricately woven tale of upward mobility, I’ve decided that I must own this book on September 6.

The Primetime Emmys
When television’s primetime players come out to celebrate on September 23, I’ll be posted in the pressroom with my fingers crossed for Idris, Don, Giancarlo, Loretta and Maya. I’m rooting for Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm, too, because I sure do love me some Don Draper.

Scandal, Season 2
Let me just say that I’ve not yet recovered from the rollercoaster ride that was season 1 of Scandal! While it’ll be intriguing to watch as more layers of dirt and deception are uncovered, I can’t even imagine what to expect when the show returns on September 27.

…and Anita!
When I heard her new single, “Lately,” I thought, “Wow, I really miss her voice.” I loved Tyrese’s version of the song back in the day, but Anita just made it so… well, Anita. It’s been eight years since her last album and I can hardly wait for Only Forever to drop in October.

So, while I do my best to enjoy each second of these last two days of August, I’m also happy to know that there’s so much to look forward to in the coming months. Until then, I intend to bask in every sliver of sunlight that crosses my path and rock my sandals for as long as Mother Nature will allow.

Regina R. Robertson is West Coast Editor of ESSENCE.  Follow her on Twitter @reginarobertson.