Neo-soul songstress Corinne Bailey Rae was born in Leeds, England, in 1979 to a British mother and West Indian father. Displaying an interest in music from an early age, Rae studied classical violin until she acquired an electric guitar in her early teens. Inspired by such '90s alt-rock icons as L7, Veruca Salt, and Belly, Rae formed her first band, the all-female indie rock outfit Helen. Despite developing a strong local following, the band ultimately folded and Rae enrolled at Leeds University to study English literature. While at school, a job at a jazz club inspired her more soul-oriented leanings and she began writing songs. Eventually, she scored a record deal with EMI
and released her self-titled debut solo album in 2006, which reached number four on the Billboard 200 and earned her three Grammy nominations. A year later, both an expanded edition of the album and the CD/DVD set Live in London & NY appeared. The recording of The Sea, released in 2010, was heavily affected by the March 2008 death of her husband, Jason Rae (a saxophonist for the Haggis Horns). She followed the Mercury
Prize-nominated release with January 2011's considerably lighter The Love EP, a five-song set that covered songs originally recorded by the likes of Prince, Bob Marley, and Paul McCartney & Wings.