Amy Winehouse: Forever a Free Spirit
Written by Mia De Los Reyes on August 24, 2023
Through the beehive hair & black eyeliner, there was a woman with a reverence for the beauty of music. Amy Winehouse traveled through her life with an open heart. She endured her pain and let herself fall in love with love. The soulful voice of hers had the power to connect a person to themselves. That was the beauty of her.
Photo by Terry Richardson
Born in Southgate, London, England on September 14th, 1983, Amy Jade Winehouse grew up with her big brother Alex, mother and father Mitch and Janis Winehouse. She came from a Jewish family and had jazz musicians for uncles who undoubtedly influenced her love for smooth vocals and creative rhythm. At a young age, Winehouse indulged in American R&B and was inspired by soulful vocalists like Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Ray Charles, and Donny Hathaway. Winehouse began singing in jazz groups in her teenage years.
At sixteen, she was expelled from Sylvia Young Theatre School for a nose piercing and lack of application toward her studies. Always unapologetically herself, an observer and appreciator of emotion, Winehouse would sometime write poetry. This foreshadowed the lyrical brilliance and honesty displayed in her future records. She indulged in her passion early on and by nineteen, she was signed with Island/Universal Records under Simon Fuller’s 19 management.
Photo by Charles Moriarty
Winehouse’s first album, Frank was released in 2003. A jazz album produced by Salaam Remi and others during the rise of pop music. Frank slowly entered the UK charts, eventually reaching number thirteen. It won the Ivor Novello award and is certified triple platinum. The album title is supposedly inspired by one of her early inspirations, Frank Sinatra. Winehouse’s second studio album was released in 2006. Back to Black was a major success for her.
Her fame was already growing, but after this album almost everyone in the music world knew who she was. On the night of the 50th Grammy Awards, Winehouse performed through satellite and won five Grammy awards for the album. It featured songs like, “Rehab,” “Back to Black,” and “Valerie.” Back to Black was the last album released before her passing on July 23rd, 2011.
Later in the same year, a compilation album of popular and unheard tracks was released and produced by her close musical companions through Island Records. Lioness: Hidden Treasures, included the duet of Winehouse and one of her musical heroes, Tony Bennett. “Body and Soul,” was one of the last studio tracks she recorded before her death.
Many people might view the story of Amy Winehouse as a tragedy, the way she passed, and the last pages of her story tell the unsolicited truths of living under the public eye. But Amy Winehouse was full of life and so much love.
Photo by Chris Christoforou
Photo from PurePeople
Amy Winehouse did one of the bravest things a woman can do, she wore her heart on her sleeve. She was much more than the number of awards she won or the fame and fortune she reached. Winehouse was an advocate for using the deepest parts of herself for creation.
The awards and best-selling albums can only explain a portion of the impact of Amy Winehouse. She turned hearts inside out and gave talent a new definition.
Photo by Peter Macdiarmid