July 23rd, 2011 was the day that we lost an extraordinary musical icon. We lost Amy Winehouse to alcohol poisoning, and it shook the music industry and the world to its core.
Amy Winehouse was a breath of fresh air with her introductory album Frank in 2003, named of course after legend Frank Sinatra. But this was by no means the start of her career, playing guitar and writing music since she was 15, Amy’s love for music was life long, she even held a position as a music journalist for World Entertainment News Network.
At the beginning of her professional music career she was kept as a secret in the business, but after hearing her voice, her future A&R representative Darcus Beese had to ask around for months before he found out what maven this amazing voice was coming from.
In a pre-recession era full of juicy-tracksuits and American Idols, Amy Winehouse was something old and something new, she was classic. Frank was very jazzy and was well received across the board, however in 2006, she released Back to Black and her career set off.
With such a unique raw voice and a clear inspiration from girl groups of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the album was something we needed. According to Marc Ronson and her father Mitch Winehouse, she was an absolute perfectionist in the recording studio and wasn’t afraid to tell you if she didn’t like something, this is apparent in her vocal technique and classic music composition that is demonstrated throughout all her albums.
The album went to number one on the UK charts in 2 weeks in January of 2007 and also received the title of best-selling album in the UK of 2007 selling 1.85 million copies in just that year.
The first single “Rehab” was released and set the tone for the rest of her album and for her Back to Black success. Whether it was the high production value, Winehouse’s sultry, raw vocals or maybe just the subject matter, she had a major hit on her hands, which happened to be named the best song of 2007 by TIME magazine.
In 2008 Winehouse won several Grammy Awards in the categories of: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single “Rehab”, while the album Back to Black was nominated for Album of the Year and won the Best Pop Vocal Album award.
Watching the video reaction to her winning record of the year up against Beyonce’s Irreplaceable, Rihanna’s Umbrella, Justin Timberlake’s What Goes Around etc, might actually bring you to tears. To be honest she completely deserved this especially considering the competition. No hate for Bey or Bad Gal Riri, there was just something obviously different about Amy.
Amy sang with such soul and intensity that just listening to her music gives you a brief idea of the pain and experiences she might’ve gone through. Similarly to Elliott Smith it’s not just about vocal abilities, but what stories they told through the power of their voice.
When you listen to Amy Winehouse sing, you can physically hear heartbreak and sadness. It’s a fucking shame that due to her public image and online assholes like Perez Hilton, she was portrayed as a joke, because this talented woman was anything but.
I could continue telling you about the rest of Amy’s life, her downfall or ultimately her death, but I don’t think that’s necessary on a day like today.
I think we should all reminisce in her albums, especially the most recent Lioness: Haunted Treasures, and take today to remember what a talented lady she was, also join me with back coming your bee-hive and winging your eyeliner as much to your hearts desire.
Forever a music icon, forever a style icon, we will always miss you RIP Amy.