Anita Cochran was born Feb. 6, 1967, in Pontiac, Mich. Her parents named her after Anita Carter of the Carter Family. Her parents were originally from Kentucky but moved to Michigan to work in the auto industry. Her father was also a local country performer who took Anita to countless country music festivals, and she began playing guitar at the age of 4. Although she spent time working for an insurance firm as an adult, she continued to perform in bands and as a solo act.
She caught her first break when hired to manage a local recording studio. She sang backing vocals and engineered many sessions, recording on her own when she had time. Although she lacked confidence in her abilities, Cochran and her manager sent off several demos to the Warner Bros. label. In 1995, Warner Bros. chief Jim Ed Norman heard a tape and was impressed with her singing, writing and playing. He offered her a contract.
For her debut album, 1997's Back to You, Cochran wrote or co-wrote all but one song and played guitar, Dobro, banjo and mandolin on the sessions. The first two singles barely scraped the chart, but her duet with Steve Wariner, "What If I Said," climbed to No. 1. However, her 2000 follow-up, Anita, failed to produce a hit. In 2004, she released the single "Cheatin' Song," which used bits and pieces of Conway Twitty's past recorded performances, stitched together to "sing" a duet part.