As a child Corinne Bailey studied classical piano and loved singing in her local church and having started attending a local Baptist church became part of a group of young people who were encouraged to adapt and sing contemporary secular music by the progressive youth leader Simon Hall. The group called themselves Revive and recorded two albums (not to be confused with the Christian rock band from Atlanta, Georgia of the same name), and it was during this time that Hall lent her the money to buy her first guitar. With her interests in both rock and alternative music she formed the all girl indie rock band Helen who attracted interest from the hard rock/heavy metal label Roadrunner Records but the band split when the bass player left to have a baby.
Deciding to pursue further education Bailey enrolled at her local Leeds University to study English Literature and to finance her course she took a part time job in the cloakroom of a local jazz club. It was while working in the club that she met Scottish saxophonist Jason Rae who was in a band called the Haggis Horns and had played with a number of recent hit makers including Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson. With Rae's influence Corinne broadened her musical knowledge by listening to his collection of jazz, soul and hip-hop records. When the couple married in 2001 she changed her name to Bailey Rae and after working with several local bands she attracted the attention of Good Groove a company run by former BBC Radio DJ Gary Davies who signed her and financed the recording of an album. Around the same time she collaborated with the Artful Dodger (Mark Hill) on his stiX project singing the track 'Young And Foolish' for his 2005 album Better Luck Next Time.
Gaining a deal with EMI Records she released the limited edition single 'Like A Star' in November 2005 which reached No 34 in the UK charts and was followed early the next year by her self-titled debut album and the global hit 'Put Your Records On' which peaked at No 2 and went on to sell in excess of one million copies. Bailey Rae's album topped the UK charts and reached No 4 in the USA with total worldwide sales of over four million.
Numerous concerts and live TV and radio appearances demonstrated her to be a hugely talented singer and although subsequent singles 'Trouble Sleeping', the re-released 'Like A Star' and 'I'd Like To' only managed to tuck themselves inside the UK Top 40 (the latter even failing to do that) Bailey Rae was hailed by the music industry as one of the best new artists of her generation. After supporting John Legend on a European and North American tour as well as performing at Live Earth and headlining the Jazz World Stage at Glastonbury, her debut album was soon confirmed as double platinum and she was recognised as the Best UK Newcomer and Best UK Female at the Music Of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards.
Suddenly in high demand, 2007 saw Bailey Rae invited to take part in a number of projects including the double Grammy Award winning River: The Joni Letters the legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancocks' immaculate tribute to Joni Mitchell and a record that placed the British singer's interpretation of the title track alongside contributions from Leonard Cohen, Norah Jones, Tina Turner and Joni Mitchell herself. Bailey Rae also featured on
Goin' Home: A Tribute To Fats Domino and Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign To Save Darfur an album of John Lennon songs.
At the height of her success disaster struck when her thirty-two year old husband Jason was found dead of what proved to be an accidental overdose of methadone and alcohol in March 2008. As her world collapsed around her, Bailey Rae retreated, and while she would continue to write she disappeared from the public eye until re-emerging with her second album The Sea in January 2010. While the record wasn't as successful as her multi-platinum debut it received mostly positive reviews and unlike it's predecessor where she had co-written all but one track the new album featured seven of the eleven tracks credited to her alone. Hugely personal, the songs, some written before and some after Jason's death obviously helped her come to terms and deal with what had happened and provided some sort of catharsis. Despite spawning three unsuccessful singles; 'I'd Do It All Again', 'Paris Nights/New York Mornings' and 'Closer' the album debuted at No 5 in the UK and No 7 in the USA. Embarking on The Sea Tour, Bailey Rae played live around the World and in January 2011 released The Love EP which featured covers of love songs by Paul McCartney, Prince, Doris Day, Belly and Bob Marley with her interpretation of the latter's 'Is This Love' winning her a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance.
Although her catalogue is presently comprised of just two albums Corinne Bailey Rae is regarded as an immensely talented artist whose smooth effortless vocals perfectly compliment lyrically powerful songs that demonstrate the growing maturity of a serious and capable songwriter.
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