Amy Winehouse; a legend even in death
Amy Winehouse super talented, yet modest
Devoted fans immortalize star by skyrocketing album sales
Amy Jade Winehouse was a force to be reckoned with and the entertainment industry is reeling from the loss of an enormous talent. The 27-year old troubled British singer was found dead in her North London apartment by a security guard on Saturday and her album sales have since sky-rocketed!
Amy had captivated music audiences worldwide with her unique combination of realness, soulful insight, verve and musical genius. Her physical trademarks were her dark mane of high hair, engaging hazel eyes, tattoos of naked pin up girls, arched brows, a facial mole and full pouting lips. Often found strumming her acoustic guitar, her musical style was a cross genre of Soul, Jazz and R&B. Her velvety voice was an eclectic mix of the old and the contemporary with undertones of a young Shirley Bassey or Nina Simone. At the age of 23, the English-Jewish singer and songwriter had already claimed several coveted music awards, released two albums, the first being ‘Frank’, which was released in 2003 reaching platinum status. ‘Frank’ was also nominated for the Mercury Prize. Topping the iTunes and Amazon charts, she had also claimed ‘The Best British Female Artist Award’ at the 2007 BRIT Awards, a title favourite Lily Allen expected to win, and graced the recent covers of US Rolling Stone and Spin magazines. Music legend Shirley Bassey was so impressed with Amy; she urged film bosses to sign the 23-year old up to sing the next James Bond theme tune.
Said 70-year old Bassey, “There aren’t many female artists of her generation with such an unusual sound. I can’t think of anybody else to sing the Bond theme tune.” Bassey has sung the theme song for three James Bond movies, namely Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever and Moonraker. Amy once denied rumors that she was to be the next Bond girl. “I’m just not an actress,” she modestly noted.
Even though the sultry songbird had the world at her feet, she seemed modest and unfazed by stardom. “I don’t care about any of this, and I don’t have much of an opinion of myself. I don’t think people care about me, and I’m not in this to be a role model. I don’t think I’m such an amazing person who needs to be written about.” Like many other stars, she has had her fair share of personal problems. Her need for alcohol, relationship problems and battle with her weight has often formed the basis of media frenzies. When questioned about her excessive drinking she responded, “My justification is that most people my age spend a lot of time thinking about what they’re going to do for the next five to ten years. The time they spend thinking about their life, I spend drinking.” Her self proclaimed favourite cocktail was Rickstasy, which is a blend of Vodka, Southern Comfort, banana liqueur and Bailey’s. “By the time you’ve had two of them you’re like, don’t even try to go anywhere. Sit down and stay down, until the birds start singing,” said Amy. Her hit single ‘Rehab’, which was released from the album ‘Back to Black’ in October 2006, encapsulates her drinking problem. The song is about her refusal to go for alcohol rehabilitation when asked by her management company. She refers to Ray Charles ‘Ray’ and Donny Hathaway ‘Mr Hathaway’ in the song. Amy left the management company as a result. However, in May 2007, ‘Rehab’ earned her the ‘Best Contemporary Song’ award at the 52nd Ivor Novello awards for British songwriters. When journalists ask about her weight problem, she apathetically responded, “A little bit of anorexia, a little bit of bulimia. I’m not totally okay now, but I don’t think any woman is.” She once attributed her weight loss to kicking her cannabis habit. “I stopped smoking weed and started going to gym. I’m a size eight now, I was a size ten before,” she said. Amy had since moved onto greener pastures in the love department and wed her on-off boyfriend, Blake Fielder-Civil at a secret ceremony in Miami recently. The couple had once been apart for an entire year, but found each other again. “We were always very close, but we got to the point where it was hurting other people for us to keep seeing each other. It just made sense for us to be together. I’m still singing about it every night on my knees and crying onstage. But when I’m with him, I feel like nothing bad can happen,” said Amy when the couple were once apart.
They looked happy at the 2007 MTV Awards, where Amy performed her hit single ‘Rehab’, but rumor had it that they had a huge argument afterwards. The couple eventually split and he spent some time in prison. Amy once said that she would give up singing any day to be a wife and mother. “I’m not here to sing. I’m a caregiver and I want to take care of my husband and kids,” she said. Strong words for a woman who was overtly talented, born into a family of Jazz musicians and who had been influenced by a melting pot of artists throughout her young life. Some of those artists include Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and Frank Sinatra.
When asked about writing music Amy said, “I just hope that people won’t hear my stuff and go, ‘this is that white girl from London.’ I hope they’ll go ‘this is a girl who has actually go some soul, and she’s young but she’s had some experiences, and she’s relating to them and I can relate to that’. I assume I will get pigeon holed, it’s inevitable, but my music is pure, and when I write I don’t have any preconceptions. I just write what I feel and I just hope that people will receive it as purely as I write it.” In 2008, the singer had suffered a series of life threatening health challenges and was often plagued by tabloid articles since 2007 for her drug and alcohol abuse related lifestyle. Still, the world is now devoid of one spectacular artist!
* She was born Amy Jade Winehouse in Southgate, a town in Northern London on September 14, 1983.
* Her record labels were Island/ Universal.
*She has her won website at http://www.amywinehouse.co.uk
*Her father was a cab driver and her mother a pharmacist.
*Amy attended AshmoleSchool.
*She formed a rap group ‘Sweet and Sour’ at the age of ten.
*She was expelled from school.
*One of the reasons she was expelled was because she had pierced her own nose at the age of thirteen.
*She began singing professionally at the age of sixteen
*She received her first guitar at the age of thirteen.
*Her song ‘Rehab’ has been covered by Justin Timberlake.
*Her hit single ‘Rehab’ appeared in the pilot episode of the show ‘Hidden Palms’.
*She was a two-time Ivor Novelo Award winner, the first being for her hit single ‘ Stronger that me,’ which was released from her debut album in 2004.
Channel 5 documentary of the Amy Winehouse story
Amy Winehouse oozes talent singing her hit 'Rehab'
© 2011 Melanie Fourie
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