Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011)
To you she might just be another singer, another substance abuser, another celebrity, another meaningless person in the world who you have no connection with; therefore don't care about, or possibly just another lost soul you've watched from afar. But to me, and to many others, she was significantly more.
As a creative person its hard not to be inspired by someone as effortlessly talented as Amy Winehouse. If not inspired, lets be honest, at least a little bit jealous of. Her personality, her look, her style, the good, the bad, her whole enigma. I believe music is the ultimate way of connecting people, you can hear a song on the other side of the world and there you may find someone else enjoying it just as much as you are, effortlessly. And Amy had that, that talent and those lyrics, those songs that connected people.
Her music to me signifies a time in my life where I guess I sort of became the proper me. I remember buying her first album 'Frank' and not telling anyone, cause well, listening to Jazz at that age, it wasn't really cool and I guess I was still not comfortable with myself and the things I liked, I mean, it was cool, anything you like is cool as long as you're not pretending to be someone else, but when you're younger I guess it can be scary showing people the kind of stuff you're into in fear of that you might rejected, ridiculous, but true. I guess that was the thing that I found really interesting about Amy, in a world of popular music where the black eyed peas were just arriving and the tried and tested sounds of Kylie Minogue and The Sugababes were topping the charts (honestly, I checked) she was there, releasing her album of a sound that people may not have been exposed to before, especially not the younger generations, that voice, people had never heard before.
I eagerly awaited anything else she ever did. Then, in 2005 Back to black was created, I remember hearing rehab on the radio driving to school one day for the first time and thinking 'wow who's this?' Not even knowing it was the artist that I already loved, I couldn't work out who it was and after having it stuck in my head all day checked straight away after school. I was so glad it was Amy, her second album was finally out, and if you've heard it then you'll know, its amazing. Each and every one of her songs are completely heartfelt, and you can hear the genuine feeling within her words, you know someone else didn't write them lyrics, and you know if someone else was singing them, it wouldn't be the same song.
I've been a fan of Amy since the start, and I'll be a fan of Amy forever, her music is ultimately inspiring, its personal to her, doesn't try to please other people, and makes the point she wants to make, it shows her feelings, her thoughts, her actions, whether you agree with her lifestyle or not, you can't doubt she has an amazing talent. Her world is laid bare within her music, on both albums. After releasing Back to black, her fame sky rocketed, people who had never even heard of her first album, were buying her second. She went on to receive 23 awards and 58 nominations in her career. Its sad to think what could've been, but also a proud moment to realise just how well she did over that short time. One song that will always highlight Amys talent to me is her version of The Zutons 'Valerie', a fairly popular song to begin with, however, after Amy performed this acoustically, then recorded it with Mark Ronson and released it as a single, almost turning it into a completely different song, the popularity of Amys version shown completely how her voice (with the help of Mark Ronsons Producing) really did have something special, the retro 60's girl group feel she could add to any song turning it from fairly popular, indie track, into an anthem. Sadly however, the video portrays the reality of her being able to turn up for shows and perfom:
When I heard about Amys death I didn't believe it, I first saw it on twitter and thought it was a rumour, a sick rumour started on the internet, minutes later, it was confirmed, I was devastated. This sadness was made worse for I and other fans, friends and family of hers being faced with the heartless way some people have reacted to her death. When compared with the other news around the world, I see people saying 'I don't care about Amy Winehouses death', well, well done you, aren't you big and clever? No. Do people have no compassion anymore? People need to wise up to the world around them and realise that there is all different forms of bad in the world, all different forms of demons which can change or affect a person or situation. People were getting angry that the world cared about one singular person dying when there was larger numbers of people dying around the world and even angrier that people cared of her death 'just' because she was a celebrity (I mean obviously, its more than her being a 'celebrity' to her real fans -that goes without saying.). But I sincerely believe these people must begin to realise that everything that happens in the world is relative to the people it is relevant to, and effects people in different ways, people who are not connected to Amys music or to her personally may not have been devastated, and that is simply a natural reaction, however, its the Nasty words which suggested she deserved her death, which shows a significant lack of compassion in this world. By no means am I suggesting Amys death is more important than other bad that has happened around the world, recently the world has suffered some horrendous situations and events, I am merely pointing out, the day the world loses a person , especially a person who inspires, creates, provokes or changes the world in a positive way, will always be a sad day.
Amy is now described as the newest member of the '27 club', an expression which I find deeply depressing, its sad to bring all these people who have died into a such a flippantly described 'club', its not a club, its a tragedy. People say it isn't a tragedy, they brought it on themselves. Define a tragedy? 'Tragedy: Defined as a self-made fall; a great individual destined through a character flaw to reach a downfall or self-destruction. ' Tradegy completely epitomises what has happened with the 'members' of this so called 'club', that through the lifestyle choices and issues of these so talented and admired individuals, we lose them to their self destruction. Does the fact that the majority of these individuals chose to live a lifestyle which affects their health mean they deserved to die? No, not by any means, not by any means atall. I am also not by any means saying this is a lifestyle that should be copied, or glamourized, but everyone makes their own choices and decisions. Some people make bad decisions, people are put in situations which provoke these decisions and we are in no place to judge. We must as human beings overlook genuinely good peoples bad choices and remember them by the good, see the best in people and not decide that their ultimate fate has been determined by a few singular choices, these people which we are talking about are not bad people, they are not evil, they are lost. We should not fire nasty words of 'it was only a matter of time' or 'they deserved it' we should help them, give them time. In the words of Lady Gaga, 'Don't kill the superstar'.
On learning of Amys death I watched her last recorded vocal performance again (apposed to her last onstage performance in which she danced on stage with her very talented god daughter Dionne Bromfield), which was in serbia, it was painful to watch, not the Amy her true fans know and love, its clear to see she should have not been let to perform in that state, I then watched some of her first recorded performances, there she is, the Amy we admire, funny, charismatic and just so, so talented. The world has followed her from the start seeing her ups and downs, and at this time, my heart is with her family, friends and fans, Amy will be missed in countless ways, and I ask us all to remember the good, the voice, the lyrics, the performances, the personality, the connection through music she has left in this world for us. This untimely death of an icon does bring forth the question, would you rather burnt out? or fade away? Its almost definite Amy burnt out, and as tragic as that is, whether now was her time to leave this earth, or whether she had left us another time, I highly doubt she would have ever, or will ever fade away.