I recently found out that one of my favourite music artists is from the wonderful Leeds; shortly after I found out that she studied English Literature at Leeds University (woop!). I’ve had a mild obsession with Corrine since her first album in 2006 (don’t worry; no stalking was undergone in the making of this article). You will most probably remember the 2006 hits ‘Put Your Records On’ and ‘Like A Star.’ Corrine’s recent history is fairly tragic; she lost her husband to cocaine and methadone in 2008. However, from this event came her album ‘The Sea’(2010), which (in my opinion) is one of the most poignant and heart-breaking albums of our generation.
Corinne and her late husband, Jason Rae
I feel that Corinne’s album was dismissed and underwhelmed on a larger scale than her existing fan base. This is a shame because I think that if it had been put through the same money-spinning music companies as Lady Gaga or Jessie J then she would have had an easy number one. According to everyhit.com she has not had a chart single since 2006. ‘The Sea’ made it to number 5 in the charts in February 2010, it’s month of release, then practically disappeared. I definitely would not say that Corinne has been forgotten- most people will know who she is, but I wonder if perhaps her album should have been taken more notice of.
The Telegraph gave Rae’s album four stars, as did the Guardian and The Independent. It is, admittedly, not upbeat like her first album, but it is raw and haunting. Adele is now the most famous act to come out of England in the past ten years; the album that made her a star was written upon experience and the empowerment gained from letting go. Corinne does the same with ‘The Sea.’ It is not at all self-conscious or commercial; its simple concept is the expression of specific events- no holding back.
One of the on-going insults to Rae during the release of her album was about how ‘boring’ it was and how her contemporaries (Lilly Allen, Macy Gray, amongst others) were more fun. However, I think this is a very ignorant way of looking at the album. The album derives from severe personal and relatable torment. Her story echoes that of hundreds of teenagers and struggling music artists. The justification of such insults as above is that Corinne’s core sound resembles a night in a Jazz club, meaning poor quality studio recording. Is this not refreshing? Amy Winehouse created an entire career on this idea. My favourite kind of gig is that which creates a feeling of intimacy between the act and their audience. When a musician makes it seriously big, the one thing they may miss would be the little gigs, where you can see the faces of your fans.
Corinne is an honorary of the University of Leeds; our website states that she has ‘a distinctive place amongst female recording artists.’ ‘The Sea’ was nominated for the Mercury Prize; she is definitely a graduate to be proud of and to take notes from. In 2011 Corinne release ‘The Love’ E.P. ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ is a lot more upbeat than the tunes presented to us in ‘The Sea.’ The ‘Jazz Club’ feel has not gone however. Corinne worked in an ‘underground jazz club’ in Leeds (Hifi?). It isn’t often you can literally follow the inspiration behind an artist. This inclusion of fans and the idea of baring all could be the most effective way of producing these moving albums and tracks.
It seems that the critics and the professionals recognised the pure talent that was presented in ‘The Sea’. I had a look back at the chart music from 2010, and Lady Gaga, Timbaland, Rhianna, David Guetta and Taylor Swift were the artists up against Bailey Rae. All of these acts have produced good music in their own rights, but I question whether Corinne’s songs were lost in the midst of music giants, or did the album just not go down well with the music lovers at that time?
Corinne is an amazing ex-graduate for Leeds students to take as an idol or figure of inspiration. This year she won a Grammy for best R&B performance for her cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love.’ Her persistence in the music industry shows her genuine love for creating music. The thing that is hard to piece together in terms of this music artist is how a well-received artist in terms of critics, can slip under the radar a bit with the public. Recently the alternative artist ‘Gotye’ made it to number one with ‘Somebody I Used To Know’, which was quite a surprise because the tune is such a far cry from the recent stream of number ones. Perhaps the good general public is ready for another shock hit - when Corinne brings out some new melodies for us.
To read about Corinne Bailey Rae’s Leeds University success, go to: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/info/30310/honorary_graduates/1508/corinne_bailey_rae/1