Originally Posted: March 2006
Dubbed by BBC Radio as one of the top artists to watch in 2006, Corinne Bailey Rae’s quiet EP made anything but a quiet debut. Her album was released in the UK on the 27th of February, and is on its way across the pond. Right now, Rae is on her way to Texas for SXSW. Being hailed as “the next Billie Holiday” by some, this 26-year old chanteuse has more music experience under her belt than many musical acts out there right now.
Born in Leeds, UK to a West Indian father and Yorkshire mother, Rae got her start where many soul singers get their starts – the church:
“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,” she says in reference to her mixed-race background. “But it wasn’t gospel at all, it was just your regular brethren church, very middle-class, where we would sing these harmonies every Sunday. It was always my favourite part of the service, the singing.”
At the age of 15, Rae and some friends started an all-girl punk band called Helen, which gained some attention among the London indie punk scene, but was ill-fated and did not last very long. While attending Leeds University, she worked at a jazz nightclub as a hatcheck girl. On occasion, she was allowed to sing with the band. This would lead to her being signed by EMI Records last year. She has come a long way.
Because of this eclectic background in music, Corinne Bailey Rae’s talent goes beyond her singing voice. She has successfully managed to create a sound that appeals to a wide audience. She has more than enough soul to appeal to the Billie Holiday crowd while at the same time being cute and quirky enough to make Massive Attack listeners take pause. Surely the neo-soul movement of Erykah Badu and Jill Scott will want to claim her as their own as well. Her sound is definitely reminiscent of classic songstresses like Holiday or Scott or Beth Orton or even Mary J. Blige.
She combines soul and pop, adds a dash of church music and creates a style uniquely her own. With Britain’s “urban” R&B and soul scene on the rise, artists like Lemar are getting more notice. While Rae can fit into this genre, she is separating herself into her own category.
Tracks like “Enchantment,” “Trouble Sleeping,” or “Put Your Records On” have that R&B/pop quality that will make you nod your head and move your hips, while the song “Like A Star” is more soft, more girl-and-her-guitar-meets-sultry-jazz-vixen.
If her EP is any indication as to how her soon to be released album will sound, then Corinne Bailey Rae is certainly on the right track. This rising star really is someone to watch in 2006.
NOTE: Also, get an MP3 from Stone’s previous post on Corinne Bailey Rae.