One of the biggest musical tragedies of the 21st century was how one unfairly talented British singer became a casualty in today’s celebrity obsessed culture. Her name is Amy Winehouse and she would’ve turned 33 years old today (Sept. 14).
Winehouse came from a family of musicians; her paternal grandmother was a singer and her parents were jazz musicians. That lineage was evident in her voice, a smokiness that recalled Billie Holiday combined with an embattled depth that rehashed Mary J. Blige. The singer was writing music when she was 15 years old, and by the time she was 20, she reached U.K. stardom with her 2003 album Frank.
She was too good for her popularity to stay overseas. Her beehive hairdo (think the Ronettes), her attitude and her voice would infect fans over in the States. Her sophomore album, Back to Black, was a platinum-selling success, giving her five Grammys (Best Pop Vocal Album, Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Rehab”). She was a superstar and there were no imitators with an image that unique.
However, the spotlight didn’t inspire Winehouse. It fried her. Her poor, drunken performances during her final years proved she was in need of some serious help. That help wouldn’t come soon enough; Winehouse was found dead of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, in her home in Camden, London.
The lauded entertainer’s death has left a hole that’s only partially been filled by Adele, who contrasts Winehouse’s rasp with her more classical power. However, nothing can fill the hole of what could’ve been when it came to Amy Winehouse.
Watch Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” Video
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