Radio review: Corinne Bailey Rae shares her love of Leeds

Nuala McCann

Living for the city Radio 4

She's always singing in her head when she's walking around - there's the rhythm of trudging about and her songs come to her ... half-remembered whispers.

Living for the city on Radio 4 painted a portrait of singer Corinne Bailey Rae stepping out in the city where she grew up, a memory on every street corner.

“If I get an idea, I acknowledge it and try not to scare it off,” she says.

She plucks the fairytale of the Elves and the Shoemaker out of her head. She has the idea, she sleeps on it and, just like in the story, the little elves come and do the work on the song for you.

As she shares her love of Leeds, the listener falls in love with Corinne, her music, her joy and her heartache.

This was an evocative sound story complete with the whizz of cars and buses on busy roads, greasy tables and half drunk coffees in roadside cafes; the bus stop central from where the teenager took off on her adventures around her city.

If you had to pick a place to love, then Leeds might not come top of the list.

But not to her.

There's the park. “Pretty safe, but you could have a proper adventure. You could hire a boat for £1, then when your time was up, they'd shout ‘Come in number six'.”

She lists the superstars who played the park – Michael Jackson, Madonna, Phil Collins: “You could hear them all from my mum's house.”

There's a childlike innocence in Bailey Rae – the joy in who she is and the pride in where she comes from – she may be a star but she'll never wander far from those roots.

Her parents divorced but she chats about a photograph of them when they were young and in love, “an advert for inter-racial love in the seventies”.

She speaks about the impact of losing her husband Jason who died suddenly when she was just 29.

“It was such a huge chasm, my life slowed down to minimal movement like being under water or being in treacle.”

This was an eloquent mellow, magical adventure produced by Rachel Hooper for Falling Tree productions. So worth a listen on catch-up.

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