Exclusive: Corinne Bailey Rae Talks Summer Tour, How Grief Shaped Her And The Black Women On Twitter Who Pulled Up For Her
The upcoming 18-city summer tour will be Bailey Rae's first time headlining in more than five years.
April 18, 2022 at 4:29 pm
It’s been more than five years since Corinne Bailey Rae has toured the United States as a headliner, but that all changes this summer, as she is set to embark upon an 18-city SUNLIGHT / SUNLIGHT! tour. And, the two-time Grammy Award-winner is ready for the long-overdue in-person connection with her fans.
Connecting with the audience
“I didn’t do any of those online conference things [during the COVID-19 shutdowns]. I really feel like getting to play in front of an audience is what I love, the energy,” Bailey Rae told Blavity. “Every audience is different and every audience is unique, and I feel like, in that moment, we really get to see all sorts of people — from different backgrounds and identities. So, the most exciting part for me, one of the most exciting, is getting out, seeing who the audience is and then connecting with the audience. I feed so much off that energy and have missed it so much.”
That time Twitter reclaimed “Put Your Records On”
Although it’s been some time since concertgoers last got to experience the songstress in a full live capacity, she’s far from forgotten. Last fall, Twitter users went to bat for her when Billboard recognized Jack Rutter, a white male vocalist who covered her song, “Put Your Records On,” as Blavity previously reported .
“I feel so glad when you make music and you make art and it becomes for everyone — it flies off like a bird and goes to all these different places,” the song’s originator said. “It’s yours, but it’s not yours. In terms of recognizing how much Black women and Black girls felt an attachment to ‘Put Your Records On’ and the idea of let your hair down, I was so happy that that message had really connected. That was a really important thing when I was making the music — it was about identity and self-love for me.”
While fans turned up in support of the original version, Bailey Rae did say that Rutter contacted her about the recording and that she didn’t feel like he was harming her legacy. She’s also grateful for every cover and stream of the song because, as its writer, “Put Your Records On” is the gift that keeps giving.
“It was a very magical thing for me. Because I’m the writer of the song, it comes back to me. Every time it’s played on the radio, it benefits me and my life and my family, and more people get to hear it. And, of course, the other thing that it did was let people hear the original as well,” she said. “I didn’t feel like the song was taken off me. Even in [Rutter’s] video, it was like, ‘a cover of Corinne Bailey Rae,’ I liked the version as well, but I was curious about how it would play out.”
This timeless song from her debut album
Her early works seem to hold a special place in people’s hearts, including her 2006 hit, “Like a Star,” which is listed as one of the ten most popular classic wedding songs, according to The Classic Swing Band . Bailey Rae told Blavity that the song was written in the very early stages of her relationship with her first husband, Jason Rae, who died in 2008.
“I actually remember writing it on my guitar at [Jason’s] house. Often that moment comes to me when I’m on stage singing it. It was a new relationship — just thinking about that — everything was sort of all-encompassing, bright and cosmic,” she said. “It really makes you think about the universe when you have that early love — your world is just taken over by another person.”
She continues to perform the song, although she admits it does feel heavy these days.
“Now when I sing it, it has an extra weight to it because he’s since passed away. It really complicates the song for me because it’s early love, and it’s the thing of a mature relationship where you’re working through your difficulties, but then it’s also a relationship that I can’t work on anymore, I can’t continue to have. I have to continue to have a relationship with the memory of this person and go back to those moments.”
Grief changed her writing
Following Jason’s death, the acclaimed singer took a hiatus from music. She released The Sea in 2010, followed by an EP and later a full album, The Heart Speaks in Whispers , in 2016 . She told Blavity that grievance changed her writing process.
“That experience was definitely so all-encompassing that it led me to make really honest music — music that I hoped would be useful to other people,” she said. “There’s lots of music about breaking up with a partner and a lot of that’s centered around ‘how could I live without you,’ and that emotion comes from the idea that the people would hear them and return to them. But, when it’s a permanent separation, you can’t think something like, ‘how can I live without you,’ because your aim, your survival is all about living without that person.”
Bailey Rae said she revisits those songs and reinterprets them each time she sings them, as she intends to do on her upcoming tour as well.
“Nothing but excitement about getting back on the road”
Now fully sitting in the kind of authenticity that only comes from lived experiences, the acclaimed singer-songwriter is excited to be among her fans again and share all of the music they’ve come to love from her, along with a few of her favorite covers like Bob Marley ‘s “Is This Love.”
“It’s a review of all the music I’ve made and new beginnings and excitement and joy,” she said.
Fans can also expect lots of contrast in the setlist and one-of-a-kind performances.
“Everything we do is live,” she said. “We don’t use any playback or tracks, so every song we play really is completely different and it’s really dependent on the audience and their energy and their vibe. That’s what I love about touring. I feel nothing but excitement about getting back on the road and getting back in front of our audience.”
The tour kicks off on June 17 in York, Pa. with Melanie Charles, Jensen McRae and Adria Kain opening on select dates throughout.