Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae has released her new single, ‘Peach Velvet Sky’ with an accompanying video directed by Gregory Berg.
The song is taken from her highly anticipated new album Black Rainbows, her first album of new material in seven years, coming out on September 15th via Thirty Tigers. Regarding the track Bailey Rae explains, “‘Peach Velvet Sky’ is about the fragments of sunset Harriet Jacobs saw, through the tiny loophole she made, and its ultimate width and wonder when she finally found freedom.”
Watch/share the video here. Pre-save/pre-order the album here.
The transcendent ballad is inspired by the true story of Harriet Jacobs told through her self-written autobiography Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Bailey Rae originally read Jacobs’ story as a child, however after rediscovering it within the Stony Island Arts Bank she was empowered.
“Reading in The Johnson Publishing Library reignited my interest in the life of Harriet Jacobs,” remarks Bailey Rae, “I had read her autobiography, ‘Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl’, as a teen. An aunt from America had sent me a copy of ‘Six African American Narratives’, and I went straight to ‘Incidents’, as it was the only one written by a woman. Re-reading the work as an adult and a mother, I was even more profoundly affected by Harriet Jacob’s mental fortitude and courage, as well as being shocked anew by the injustices and cruelties of her situation.”
Bailey Rae continues “Jacobs, born in 1813, escaped slavery in her early twenties. She feigned her flight North, knowing her obsessive, sexually harassing, and violent ‘master’ would not relent until he had searched the Free States for her. Instead, she hid in the crawl space above her free Grandmother’s storeroom, where she remained, with the help of her grandmother, for 7 years. Jacob bored a small hole through the wall of the cabin, through which she could occasionally see her children as they played nearby. She could sew clothes for them by this light, as well as overhear conversations that pertained to her safety.”
The video features UK dancer / choreographer Mayowa Ogunnaike as well as Bailey Rae. Of the video Bailey Rae says, “I first saw Mayowa in the rehearsals for ‘Seeds, Dreams, Constellations’, the Contemporary Dance piece I co created with Sharon WatsonMBE, in Leeds, Spring 2023. Sharon and Mayowa had begun developing the choreography for ‘Peach Velvet Sky’ and called me in to see what was happening. I was speechless when I saw Mayowa dance. The grace, the expression, the heaviness of the subject with the fluidity of the movement. Sharon and Mayowa had put in language which evoked Harriet Jacob’s story so poetically, her loophole for viewing the world, the compression which ultimately brought her escape, the mental strain, the physical and temporal endurance. When I saw Mayowa dance that piece I knew that we had to film her to bring this story to people.”
‘Peach Velvet Sky’ marks the second single from Black Rainbows, following critically acclaimed single ‘New York Transit Queen’. The track has been described by The Observer as “An exciting post-punk glam thrash… like Santigold dismantling Blur’s Song 2,” and has spent over a month on the BBC 6 Music A-list.
Wide ranging in its themes, Black Rainbows’ subjects are drawn from encounters with objects in the Arts Bank, a curated collection of Black archives comprising books, sculpture, records, furniture and problematic objects from America’s past. From the rock hewn churches of Ethiopia to the journeys of Black Pioneers westward, from Miss New York Transit 1957 to how the sunset appears from Harriet Jacobs’ loophole. Black Rainbows explores Black femininity, Spell Work, Inner Space/Outer Space, time collapse, ancestors and music as a vessel for transcendence.
In celebration of the new project, Bailey Rae is touring through the USA from Sept 5th to October 7th, playing venues such as Yale University’s Schwarzman Center, New York’s National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.
She will also be performing three very special shows in London’s Ladbroke Hall on October 25th, 26th and 28th plus a special appearance at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival in Ireland on October 29th Cork City, as well as a number of shows in Spain.