“Music is this really exciting and natural learning on this journey and I am learning a lot about myself and my inner voice and I can get in touch with my body, lessons we learn from nature, our instincts and our dreams.” – Corinne Bailey Rae with The Pool.
Corinne Bailey Rae’s voice is just liquid gold and as she remains loyal to her own unique sound she has expressed her feelings through her lyrics. She is a prodigious British singer, guitarist, producer and songwriter who originated from Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.
Corinne Jacqueline Bailey was born on February 26th, 1979 to an English mother and a Kittitian father and was the oldest of three daughters. She began her career in music during her time at school where she pursued classical violin and later chased her untold talent in singing:
“I started off singing in church, I suppose, but people think it must have been a gospel church because of the whole, you know, black assumption… It was always my favourite part of the service, the singing.”
She recorded two albums under the name ‘Revive’ with her church group, and she reaped lessons as to her musical career from singing within the church, which afforded her first guitar.
“I loved them [Lenny Kravitz, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin] during my teens; I wanted, somehow, to follow in their footsteps, and to create music of my own.” – Corinne Bailey Rae.
She was placed under the tutelage of Simon Hall who also encouraged her to write songs of her own and play the guitar.
“He was this radical, questioning guy who had studied philosophy and theology at Oxford and had a liberal and intellectual approach that I don’t think the church was that keen on. But he was a big influence. He introduced me to Led Zeppelin and Radiohead and gave me the first Björk album.” – Corinne Bailey Rae.
She later started an indie group known as Helen, inspired from women groups like Veruca Salt and L7. However, the group broke up and Bob Miller came onto the scene, and he became her manager and insisted that she try her hand at being a solo artist.
She studied and graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Leeds in 2000 and while being a university student, she was often looking for ways to develop her talent.
“Language and poetry are endlessly fascinating. The most brilliant work can be so sparse yet so full of meaning. That’s what I’m looking for in a song: imagery to describe things in ways that are perfectly concise. I’m constantly trying to find one hard, crystal thing.” – Corinne Bailey Rae.
Corinne worked at a local jazz club where she met Scottish gentleman, Jason Rae and soon married him when she was just twenty-two, changing her name to Bailey Rae.
He was so knowledgeable and generous,” she says. “I suppose he was a bit of a jazz snob, but he was passionate about it. He had a huge record collection – hip-hop, soul, funk, and jazz – all this extraordinary music that I suddenly had a way in to.” – Corinne Bailey Rae.
After getting married, three years later, she made the decision to take a more solo approach to her music and evolved from indie to soul. It was also Bob Miller’s insistence to sign a solo publishing deal and record an album by production company Good Groove that pushed her in the right direction.
“Every record company had turned her down, bizarrely. I would have remortgaged my house if I needed to; anything to get her heard.” –Bob Miller with Q magazine in 2007.
She even collaborated with New Mastersounds in 2003 on a single and again with Homecut Directive on another track. A year later Bailey Rae was signed with Global Talent Publishing and duet “Young and Foolish” with Mark Hill of Artful Dodger in 2005, which brought her much needed recognition for her brand.
“Like A Star” was released in 2005 followed by her first album entitled Corinne Bailey Rae in 2006, which topped UK charts and top ten in US Billboard Top 200 and stayed at number four for seventy-one weeks from 2006 to 2008. It sold millions of albums worldwide and became a hit in the UK and United States as it dominated airtime. Put Your Records On came on the heels of Like A Star and is known as her biggest hit to date rising to number two on the UK charts.
“How does the heart speak to us? It speaks through Nature, Dreams, the Body and Instinct. These songs are mystical, elemental and concerned with transformation, verdant with lifeblood and cosmic nature.” – Corinne Bailey Rae with Independent UK.
In 2006 Bailey Rae started her first international tour through North America and Europe with John Legend and in that same year was certified 2x Platinum and was awarded Best Newcomer and Best UK Female by the UK’s MOBO Awards. She also made her brand known through appearing and performing on various shows and performed live recordings like Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Project Runway, and later with Jools Holland, Live From Artists Den and also Live On Abbey Road. She was named number one predicted breakthrough act of 2006 in Sound of 2006 – BBC polls of music critics.
“My songs mean different things to different people. The sort of level of fame I have I feel like I can have a fun life and also have a connection with people who come up to me on the streets.” – Corinne Bailey Rae.
Jason Rae, her late husband whom she loved dearly, died in 2008—his death devastated Corinne. Jason’s untimely death was due to an accidental overdose of methadone and alcohol.
“When you lose a partner, [grief] is just there the whole time, and you are always feeling those things,” she says. “But it opened me up to this world of people who had similar experiences in terms of loss, who came to see me perform and spoke to me afterwards, or stopped me in the street. I feel honoured to be part of this community of grief. It’s like a code between us.” – Corinne Bailey Rae.
In 2008 Bailey Rae turned her lemons into lemonade by winning two Grammys in the categories Best Contemporary Jazz Album and Album of the Year and Like A Star won Song of The Year.
Her first DVD, called Live in London and New York, documenting her American and European Tour was released in the same year.”
“These last few years have been about rediscovering myself and finding joy…. It’s like the volume being turned back up or the colour coming back after a really quiet, monochromatic time.” – Corinne Bailey Rae in a Telegraph interview.
Two years later she channeled her mourning for her husband into her music and released The Sea under producer Steve Brown and Steve Chrisanthou, which landed her another Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance and massive air time on worldwide radio stations and channels like Smooth Jazz Radio, Triple A Radio and AC Radio. Soon enough she journeyed on her second tour across Brazil, Japan, Argentina, the UK and Europe, the US, Korea, the Middle East and Singapore – The Sea Tour – which comprised eighty-two concerts with a gross profit of $10 million.
During the next few years she continued performing live throughout the United States and in 2010 she sang alongside Herbie Hancock at the White House in tribute of Paul McCartney. In 2011 she released an EP, The Love EP, which won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance at the 54th Grammy Awards (for “Is This Love” – a Bob Marley rendition) and appeared number eighty-six on Billboard 200 and in the Top 20 in Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums.
Writing and producing is her passion so she worked tirelessly on pushing out another album, but she also endorsed other plans – where she was awarded her honorary doctorate by the University of Leeds. Although it was a record six-year silence between her previous album release and her third album, she stated that she had been kept busy doing tours and promoting The Sea. She was also able to find love along the way as in 2013 she married Steve Brown, notable producer.
“How does love sneak up on you if you’ve known someone all that time? I guess context is important, if you meet someone when you’ve already got a partner; you’re not presenting yourself as potential mates. But it can just kind of change one day. You look at them in a different way. It’s a strange thing.” – Corinne Bailey Rae.
In 2016, Bailey Rae released her third album, The Heart Speaks in Whispers, which was released on the 13th of May and debuted on Billboard’s R&B Chart at the number two spot. Her third album was her comeback to the world and her music. The album had listener favorites “Green Aphrodisiac”, “Been To The Moon” and “The Skies Will Break”.
A gorgeous piece of psychedelic soul, it takes everything she has done so far and pushes it into new realms, encompassing jazz, pop and rock in fluid arrangements. The Heart Speaks In Whispers is an album that seems to glow with amazement at the very idea that life continues no matter what. -Telegraph’s review of “Heart Speaks In Whispers”
Bailey Rae built her own studio in her home in Leeds, where she could be more connected with her music. She taught herself how to engineer and produce her own music through her studio apart from already being a professional and accomplished guitarist.
“I think of a song and I think well what’s the context? How should it sound, what should the instruments do, how fast should it be, what key should it be in? I built my own studio in Leeds and it’s got loads of different instruments, it’s a playground for me, it’s got a grand piano, play drums, I’ve got my guitars and basses, and I use it as a place to dream and imagine and mess around and see what I can come up with.” – Corinne Bailey Rae in an interview with BBC Breakfast.
She now continues to be a trailblazer, charting her course as a producer, songwriter, singer and overall artist. She continues keeping her music alive by going on tours across the world. At the end of March 2017 she will be touring Singapore, and in April places like Tokyo, Maldives, Osaka, Sydney, Melbourne, Seoul, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Liverpool, to name a few.
“You find out there’s a lot of beauty and grace even in the darkness. In the way people treat you, in nature, in the things you maybe took for granted. There is something miraculous that pushes you along, makes you keep going, makes you carry on. It’s really about the mystery of that. In fact, the whole album is about that in a way; it’s about loss but it’s also about hope, about keeping going and trying to find that beauty.” – Corinne Bailey Rae.
By Alexandra Daley