Corinne Bailey Rae performs a special summer concert at the Wheeler Opera House
Who: Corinne Bailey Rae
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Wheeler Opera House
More info: wheeleroperahouse.com
Singer, songwriter and musician Corinne Bailey Rae returns to Aspen Friday for an evening at the Wheeler Opera House. While it’s not Bailey Rae’s first time performing in the Roaring Fork Valley — she did so alongside Duran Duran and Stevie Wonder at the 2016 JAS Labor Day Experience — it will be her first appearance at the historic downtown venue.
“When I play in a historic venue, I feel like I’m always aware of the people who’ve played there before, their echoes of the past,” she said. “It always feels like an honor to be invited on the stage that other luminaires have lit up before. An old venue has so much character. It was made before amplifications, acoustics are always good, and the sightlines are good. I also like to be in venues where I can see everyone and everyone can see me, and people aren’t watching a big screen. It’s an intimate and up-close and special, unique performance.”
Bailey Rae has received two Grammy® Awards, two MOBO Awards and multiple nominations, including BRIT and BET awards. She earned her first Grammy in 2008 for album of the year when featured on Herbie Hancock’s “River: The Joni Letters.” Her second album, “The Sea” (2010), was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. The subsequent EP, “Is This Love,”garnered a Grammy for best R&B performance.
“Being able to welcome Corinne Bailey Rae as a special summer Wheeler concert is a real treat,” said Lisa Rigsby Peterson, Wheeler Opera House executive director. “I’m excited to have such a remarkable artist here for our Aspen audience and think she’s a perfect artist for our intimate and beautiful stage.”
This summer event on the Wheeler stage was made possible partly due to a shift by the Aspen Music Festival and School, which presents its opera program at the Benedict Music Tent this summer.
“With Aspen Music Festival and School presenting operas at the Benedict Music tent this year, we saw an opportunity to do something different at the Wheeler,” Peterson said. “This wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of the AMFS and flexibility in their rehearsal schedule. Welcoming summer audiences to a Wheeler-presented concert will be a new and exciting experience for all.”
And Bailey Rae looks forward to a summer return, as well.
“To be flying in, into that mountain town, on a small plane, it is just beautiful. People who live in Aspen are really lucky to have skiing in the winter and all this amazing music in the summertime,” she said.
She contends that even if you’ve seen her and her band perform before, this show will be a different experience, as they work to make each performance unique.
“Every time we play, it’s different. It really depends on how the audience reacts, how they feel, how we’re all feeling. We don’t use a click track or backing tracks in our music, so everything is live, and we call out the setlist as we go. The songs can stretch and contract depending on how the audience responds, so it really is an organic performance,” she said, adding, “we’ll be so happy to return to Aspen after all these years.”
The community spirit she inspires also excites Nicole Levesque, the Wheeler’s marketing manager.
“In her expansive career, it’s clear that Corinne brings a spirit of collaboration and passion to all her endeavors, two things also at the heart of all that happens at the Wheeler,” she said.
As Bailey Rae puts it:
“Music helps us to feel that connection to the joyous and glorious things in our life.”
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