Corinne Bailey Rae

A friend recently described Corinne Bailey Rae, who's touring with John Legend, as a black musician being marketed to white people who don't really like black music -- and while this observation is as politically incorrect as it can be, it's not entirely unfounded. Although "Put Your Records On," the signature single from Rae's self-titled 2006 debut, has a soulful sheen, it's entirely grit-free, with a melody that puts few demands on the listener and a vocal that's seemingly designed for the speakers at the nearest Starbucks. (Odds are good you're either sitting in one right now or less than ten feet away.) No wonder Rae wound up with three Grammy nominations -- and while she didn't rack up any victories, the blame belongs to the Dixie Chicks and Carrie Underwood, not her. If she wants to be around for the long haul, though, she'd be well advised to dig deeper next time around. White people who don't really like black music may object, but what the hell do they know about soul?

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