Corinne Bailey Rae (born as Corrine Jacqueline Bailey) was born on the 29th of February, 1979 in Leeds, West Yorkshire (North England). Her deep love for music began to grow as a result of her learning classical violin in school and singing along with services in church. In her teenage years she developed a great interest in classic rock, and as her singing developed she experimented in the indie live scene. Corinne studied English Literature at the University of Leeds, and after her graduation in 2000, she landed a job as a hat checker in a local jazz club. Being allowed to sing on stage whenever there was a lull, she became exposed to a great expanse of R&B, soul, blues, and jazz. This early performance experience was the catalyst for the artist we know today.
In 2005 she changed her name to Corinne Bailey Rae upon her marriage of a Jason Rae, and the same year Corinne’s first single, “Like a Star,” was released. The tune draws vaguely from Bossanova, with the rhythm section laying down a hard groove, making way for the smooth-as-silk vocals and tasteful harmonies that are trademarks of Corinne’s sound. The single was the first taste the public had of the rare mood that she has to offer in her music.
Her debut album Corinne Bailey Rae was released in 2006; it launched straight to the top of the UK charts and spread internationally. Her smooth rhythm guitar at times warmly blankets the listener, and at other times keeps you on your toes. Her songwriting instincts seem to match her voice perfectly, and these instincts are what make her sound unmistakable. The lullaby jazz cradles and whispers to the crowd, the music beckoning and beautiful. By April of 2006 her first studio album had reached double platinum status.
It only takes a first listen for the differences between Corrine Bailey Rae and her second album, The Sea, to become apparent. The Sea was released in January of 2010, two years after the tragic overdose of her husband Jason Rae. As with all tragedies, this event caused a shift in Corinne’s inspirations and themes on her second album. She draws from many soul roots and expands into some Indie and neo-soul territories as well. The album is a wealth of strong emotions and has the spirit of a heart trying to mend itself one step at a time. Her verve, spirit, and depth fill the listener’s musical cup to the brim: a caring, mourning, but independent album.
Collaboration has also been an important branch of Corinne Bailey Rae’s career. She has sung with Herbie Hancock (for which she won a Grammy award), John Legend, Marcus Miller, Al Green, and more. The style she has accumulated is one that fits very comfortably with other eclectic artists and seamlessly establishes a rich dynamic and synergy in collaboration.
There is warmth in the music Corinne Bailey Rae writes. Small jazz-related aspects contribute to the songs’ momentum, even a gesture as small as adding a flat 9 to a dominant chord in “Like a Star.” Coupling this jazz literacy with line clichés and other nuances really defines her own intent in a minimalistic way. “Put Your Records On,” a well known single off of her first album, is a sprightly song that’s supported by a finger-picked jazz-infused rhythm guitar part and lively horn parts, integrating jazz into a lighthearted palette.
Freshly and warmly jazz influenced. Stay tuned!