After the 10-year anniversary of her death last week, we haven’t stopped thinking about the incredible talent that is Amy Winehouse.
Unique Amy Winehouse
With a pinch of soul, jazz and a healthy dollop of rhythm and blues, Amy’s unique contralto voice took the whole world by storm from her debut album, Frank, to her final performances in her home of Camden Town.
After being a member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra as a child, Amy Winehouse was certainly at home in these genres, and throughout her career was described to have a voice that resembled Shirley Bassey and Ella Fitzgerald. By 2002, Amy was signed to 19 Management and soon after signed a publishing deal with record label EMI.
Frank was shared with the world in 2003, featuring a majority of songs co-written by Amy herself, and very much influenced by her jazz upbringing. The album was a big success, and the song “Stronger Than Me” received an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song. Not a bad start for a debut album, right?!
Head Over Heels
Going from strength to strength, Amy dropped the spell-bounding and now legendary Back To Black album in 2006, and if we thought the world loved Frank then they were about to fall head-over-heels for album number two. You’ll almost definitely have heard beautiful songs from the album, including “Back To Black”, “Love Is A Losing Game” and “Tears Dry On Their Own”, as well as “Rehab”, which was the track that sent everyone crazy for Amy Winehouse!
The autobiographical lyrics of “Rehab” describe Amy’s reluctance to listen to her peers when they advised her to go to a rehabilitation clinic. She was telling producer Mark Ronson about the situation whilst in New York together, and they were both immediately inspired to write a song about it. That song went on to win three Grammy’s – Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Oh, and another Ivor Novello too. That night at the Grammy’s was a big one for Amy, as she took home five awards, becoming the first British woman to have achieved this.
With the mystical voice of Amy Winehouse and the enormous popularity of “Rehab”, it was an essential song for us to include in the Rockschool Vocals syllabus. We love hearing this song in the exam room, with each candidate bringing their own vocal timbre but with a sprinkle of Amy in there too. It’s really magical.
And so, it has already been 10 years since Amy’s death. At the young age of 27, and after years of struggles with substance abuse, Amy died of alcohol poisoning at her home. Her last public appearance had been in her hometown of Camden, supporting her goddaughter Dionne Bromfield as a surprise.
The legacy that Amy Winehouse has left behind is nothing short of beautiful. Lady Gaga said that Amy made it easier for unconventional women to have mainstream pop success, and many other female artists have quoted Amy as someone who paved the way for their own success. Amy’s family set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation to help other young people with drug and alcohol issues, and her friend Mark Ronson became a patron back in 2015.
We’ll certainly never forget Amy here at RSL. Rest well, angel!