Born Delores LaVern Baker on November 11, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. She began singing in Chicago clubs under various names around 1946 before settling on LaVern Baker in 1952. Baker had her first hit, “Tweedlee Dee,” in 1955 and had a succession of hits over the next several years, including “Jim Dandy” (1956), “I Cried a Tear” (1959), and “See See Rider” (1963).
In the late 1960s, she became entertainment director at a Marine Corps night club at the Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines and remained there for 22 years. She returned to the United States in 1988 and worked on movie soundtracks, including “Shag” (1989), “Dick Tracy” (1990), and “A Rage in Harlem” (1991).
In 1990, she made her Broadway debut starring in the hit musical “Black and Blue.” Also in 1990, she received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and in 1991 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Baker made her last recording, “Jump into the Fire,” in 1995.