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Corinne Bailey Rae
If army man-turned-rock star James Blunt is king of the UK music scene, could soul-meets-indie singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae soon be elected queen? The buzz about this 26 year old is so loud we think she just might fit the bill.
You will be reading a lot more about her in The Record in the coming months, but to begin with, here are the essentials ~ 8 things you absolutely need to know about Corinne Bailey Rae.

1. She’s a record breaker.
This March, Bailey Rae became only the third British female artist in the last 30 years to have her debut album make a spectacular entrance at #1 in the UK charts. The self-titled album was so highly anticipated that its release date was brought forward by a week due to intense demand.
It all began in November 2005 when her limited edition EP Like A Star entered the UK Top 40 charts. Early comparisons were made to Billie Holiday, Erykah Badu and Norah Jones but Bailey Rae made a strong case for her own brand of summery blues with songs like her first single Put Your Records On, which is now the 11th most played track across Europe this year.
The critics were more than generous with their praise and Bailey Rae even topped the BBC poll Sound Of 2006. What began as a UK buzz is now spreading across Europe as Bailey Rae jets across the continent this month performing showcases in Paris, Milan, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands. After a quick stop to the US the singer returns to the UK to play shows that are already completely sold out!
Bailey Rae is, quite obviously, delighted at the reception. She says, “The response so far has been amazing and that has been very satisfying, because all this feels so right to me. Writing songs ~ playing music ~ is, I know, precisely what I should be doing with my life.”

2. She started off singing in church ~ not gospel but harmonies and Primal Scream songs!
Born and raised in Leeds, Bailey Rae is the oldest of three daughters of a West Indian father and a Yorkshire mother. Her first brush with singing was in church. She explains, "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."
A move to a Baptist church followed, where the choir alternated between traditional hymns and ~ slightly less orthodox ~ Primal Scream tracks! “We changed the words though,” laughs Corinne. “We didn't want to offend the regular churchgoers, now did we?” When the church’s youth leader offered to buy her an electric guitar she grabbed the opportunity and soon, began listening to more rock music. Quickly, like so many others before her, she fell in love with the innovative rock and roll of the legendary Led Zeppelin. She not only bought all the records, but was also inspired to start making some music of her own. She recalls, “I loved that band during my teens. I wanted, somehow, to follow in their footsteps, and to create music of my own.”

3. Her first band was called… Helen!
The first steps towards creating her own music came in the form of a band that Bailey Rae started, called, well, Helen. “I know, I know,” she laughs at the name now. “What can I say? We were 15 years old, and thought that Helen was a cheeky, indie kind of thing to do. It seemed clever at the time. Admittedly, it seems less so now.”
The name might not have been that exciting but the music they made began attracting considerable local attention and was good enough to elicit an offer of a record deal from the esteemed Roadrunner Records. All was going well, until the bassist fell pregnant. The band unfortunately, broke up. Bailey Rae was understandably disappointed. “I was gutted,” she says now. “I had no idea what to do next.”

You can read the rest of our feature on Corinne Bailey Rae in the March 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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