We didn’t have Corinne Bailey Rae going punk rock on our 2023 bingo card, but she did just that with her single “New York Transit Queen.” The “Put Your Records On” singer left fans shocked and awed with the first listen from her forthcoming album Black Rainbows. The raucous track is but one piece of the puzzle that is her new project, and she gives us another puzzle piece with her latest single “Peach Velvet Sky.”
As she did with “New York Transit Queen,” Corinne found inspiration in a figure from the past for “Peach Velvet Sky.” The song pulls from the life of Harriet Jacobs, who wrote her autobiography Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl. In the book published in 1861, she detailed how she escaped an abusive, violent slavemaster. Fearing for her life, she hid in a crawl space of her grandmother’s home for seven years, only able to see outside through a small hole where Jacobs would keep a watchful eye on her children, read and sew by a sliver of light.
Bailey Rae and co-writer/co-producer S.J. Brown capture the essence of Harriet Jacobs’ story on “Peach Velvet Sky.” Accompanied solely by a piano, Corrine’s delicate vocals are at the heart of this poetic ballad as she channels Jacobs.
“I stitched myself into your heart / I thread my needle by sister North Star / And I missed your quiet hands / Their tiny weight,” she sings to her children on the other side of the wall. Corinne dreams of leaving this self-imposed prison, escaping now only in her mind.
"Re-reading the work as an adult and a mother, I was even more profoundly affected by Harriet Jacobs’ mental fortitude and courage, as well as being shocked anew by the injustices and cruelties of her situation,” Corinne stated in a press release. “‘Peach Velvet Sky’ is about the fragments of sunset Harriet Jacobs saw, through the tiny hole she made, and its ultimate width and wonder when she finally found freedom."
Corinne released “Peach Velvet Sky” with a music video directed by Gregory Berg and starring dancer/choreographer Mayowa Ogunnaike. The bulk of the piece focuses on Ogunnaike, who breathes life into the lyrics with her modern dance moves in a field of tall grass. Bailey Rae also joins her to dance in some scenes before Mayowa symbolically escapes into the night at the end.
With “New York Transit Queen” and “Peach Velvet Sky” sounding so dramatically different, it’s safe to say to expect the unexpected from Corinne Bailey Rae’s Black Rainbows. She is stretching herself as an artist and a storyteller on this project. We look forward to more surprises from the songstress when the album is released on Friday, September 15th. After you listen to and watch the visual “Peach Velvet Sky” right here, visit your choice of digital music providers to pre-save/pre-order Black Rainbows.