Dubbed by BBC Radio as one of the top artists to watch in 2006, Corinne Bailey Rae’s made anything but a quiet debut. Her album, which was released in the UK on the 27th of February and is being released in the States tomorrow, has already been given four stars from Q Magazine and London’s Times. Her single “Put Your Records On” has already been nominated for a “BETJ Cool Like That Award” which will be given at the BET Awards on June 27th.
The 26-year old chanteuse was born in Leeds, UK to a West Indian father and Yorkshire mother. Growing up, Rae, like many soul singers, got her start in 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.
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 Jazz fans 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 Lauryn Hill.