Far from spending time enjoying the spoils of her musical successes, Bailey Rae has had to battle with loss and grief after she lost her husband to an accidental drug overdose back in 2008. The tragedy struck midway through the recording of her second album The Sea and after struggling to accept what had happened, music was the farthest thing from the Leeds-born singer’s mind for a year or so. But music can be a powerful healer and after completing the album, she was immediately out on the road with her band. She says: “What else was I going to do? I was very much in that phase. It hadn’t been that long since Jason died and it was still my biggest preoccupation in life, a very real and present thing. Playing live with my band – my most trusted friends – seemed like the only thing to do.”
Since that difficult period, the 37-year-old has found love once again with producer and long-time friend Steve Brown, whom she married in 2013, and released her latest album The Heart Speaks in Whispers. The road to her eagerly awaited third release may have been a long time coming, but Bailey Rae returns with a new-found optimism and a determinedly positive attitude.“The songs come out of my own personal experience of feeling joy again,” she says. “There are lots of images of spring and green and new things coming through. It’s about
transformation and new life and confidence and joy.”
“The heart speaks through nature, dreams, the body and instinct. These songs are mystical, elemental and concerned with transformation. For me, this album is vital and life-affirming.”Recorded at the new studio she had built at her home in Leeds, Corinne took the time to savour the creative process of putting the album together and let the songs come naturally without the worry of writing to a deadline.
“I wanted to have my own space where I could explore, create and experiment without the clock ticking,” she says. “Each song started very naturally with a musical phrase or an image, a fragment I had to follow to see where it led.”
“I don’t respond well to time pressure – when you’re in the studio, with the clock ticking, and the record company’s waiting for you to lay a golden egg. Wherever it is my music comes from, it just doesn’t show up when the pressure is on.”Along with the excitement of the new album release, the singer has plenty to be looking forward to as she gears up to support Lionel Richie as a special guest on his UK tour in June. Speaking of being invited to join him, she enthuses: “I’ve always been a huge fan of Lionel Richie. His music has sound-tracked many moments of my life. It’s an honour to be asked to join him on his British tour and I’m really looking forward to it. It means I will be playing stadiums, which I’ve never done before.”
But Lionel Richie isn’t the only superstar the singer will be rubbing shoulders with, as she will be sharing the stage with Stevie Wonder in Hyde Park this summer as part of the Barclaycard British Summer Time Festival, alongside Pharrell Williams. “I’ve been a fan of Stevie Wonder my whole life and saw the Songs in the Key of Life show at Madison Square Garden,” she says. “I cried, I danced and I had a massive smile on my face throughout the show. It’s a dream come true to be asked to join him when he brings this amazing show to Hyde Park, and also to be on the stage with Pharrell, who is a huge inspiration to me.”
It’s quite the triumphant return for the singer and with her new-found positive outlook on life, it seems she has well and truly found happiness after such heartbreak. “I don’t put things off now,” she says. “Certainly a lot of the new record is about that. It’s about being in the moment and not saying, ‘when I get this job I’ll be happy, when I get this money, when I get a partner’. We should accept happiness where it is and where we are.”“I have learnt to enjoy today because you never know how long anything is going to last. It’s impossible to control your life. Everything is risk and danger – that’s what makes it so amazing.”