The Comeback of Corinne Bailey Rae

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In 2006, two British soul singers made big waves across the pond. One had a dark spirit, a quirky fashion sense, and sang songs about drugs and drinking, heartache and pain. The other seemed to embody light, had a head of hair any afrobella would envy, and sang songs about romance and passion, and the simple pleasures that can be discovered in life.

Flash forward to 2009. Amy Winehouse seems determined to squander the sizable talent she possesses and money she’s earned by living out her lyrics from Back to Black.

And Corinne Bailey Rae is on the brink of a comeback, following the loss of her husband under heartbreaking circumstances. Finally she is returning to the spotlight, to share songs that are bound to be raw at the edges and filled with grief.

A brilliant, beautifully written interview in the Guardian this past weekend reveals a portrait of the beautiful young singer as she comes out of the dark.

Corinne descended into the kind of raw, bottomless grief that Joan Didion describes so unflinchingly in her memoir. The tabloid press wrote their usual slanted and sordid takes on her tragedy; the paparazzi congregated outside her door for a while and snapped her when she went walking alone on the moors near Otley. She remained oblivious, sealed off, unreachable.

For a long time, she continued to refer to her late husband in the present tense, seemingly unable to grasp that he was gone for ever. About three months after his death, she tried to record some of the songs she had written, even turning up at a studio to meet a producer. “I laugh now at how deluded I was,” she says. “I felt like everything would somehow go back to normal if I got on with things but, in reality, I was still in shock.”

Then came the strange inertia that grief instils in those left behind, the long, terrible numbness that is, in itself, a kind of death. “I didn’t do anything for a year. I mean, nothing,” she says, still sounding as if she can barely believe it. “Everyone was asking, ‘What have you done?’ But I had nothing to show them. I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t write anything. I didn’t work. I sat at my kitchen table for a whole year, people came and people went, life drifted by. It was just bleak. Bleak.”

Did she think that she might give up music altogether? “I did think that I could never do this sort of thing again because if anyone asked me about Jason, I would just explode. For a long time, I didn’t even try and write. It was just too big a thing, too raw. It was just too destructive to make anything creative out of. All I wanted to do was destroy things. And I’m really not that type so it was all these emotions that were totally alien to me. It was just a bleak, empty, hollow nothing.”

It’s a heavy read, but an excellent one. Click here to see the accompanying video of Corinne as she discusses where she’s been and plays snippets of her new material.

I’ve been married for seven years, and even the mere thought of going through what she’s been through is enough to make my throat tighten up on the inside. I can’t even imagine. I’m rooting for Corinne all the way, and I can’t wait for her new album to come out. Out of the ashes, this bella will rise!

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Comments

  1. That interview was really touching. So well-written and sad. The sadness really comes through. Just the description of her songs alone are amazing. I cannot WAIT to hear her music; I still play her debut album daily.

    Also, I love how her hair has grown out. So lovely.

  2. This is great news! I still enjoy the first, I know the next will be in heavy rotation on this end :-).

  3. I’m so excited about hearing her new album. I missed her…yeah I know I don’t know her but still…

    CBR just crossed my mind the other day and I said a prayer for her. I cannot imagine losing my great love. I’ll read/listen to the interview now. Thanks for the word, ‘Bella!

  4. That was a very raw and real interview. I’m very anxious to hear her new album and new sound. And on a superficial note, I LOVE her hair. Love it.

  5. I have been listening to her double CD something heavy lately because I’ve just been in a CBR mood and have been wanting to know how she’s doing. I came across this story this morning as well and it was so beautifully written.

  6. Ditto, Sheena! Her hair is wonderful :)

  7. The little snippet is really awesome – can’t wait for the album!

    I also can’t image going through what she went through and I wish her the best in putting the album through. I’m sure the release and necessary tour will be hard for her and will remind her of her husband.

  8. Thanks for the link. That interview made me choke up. So sad. I can’t imagine going through something like that.

    I really look forward to her new album. She is a very talented woman.

  9. I am so glad she is in the healing process and coming back out. I know when I heard the news of her husband, i was in shock myself. I often wondered about her, how she was doing. As a wife, I cannot begin to understand the loss she has suffered.

    She is a true beauty, and she deserves all of our support! This article was very well written.

  10. Powerful interview…I was on the brick of tears reading it.

    So happy to hear about her new album, I loved the first one and absolutely adore her.

    Good luck to, may Jah keep her strong.

  11. ichoosethesun says:

    Thanks for this! LOVE CBR….her songs are on constant rotation on my BB and iPod…..great article. Looking forward to the cd debut :)

  12. I caught the article and was very impressed. Her voice is stunning.
    When I cut my hair 3 years ago, I actually brought pics of her to my stylist for inspiration. Seeing her today has helped me cement the idea of growing my hair out again.
    I can’t wait to see what she’s come up with.

  13. Thanks for this. What a lovely and sensitive interview. Based on that video, I think I may buy her new album…which is something I rarely do these days (I prefer picking and choosing via iTunes).

    And yeah, totally superficial and unimportant comment: Her hair looks great. In fact she looks great in general.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] been reading this blog for a while knows how much I love Corrine Bailey Rae. I’ve been rooting for her glorious comeback, and now all of us fans are in for a treat. Her new album, The Sea, will be released January 26, [...]

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