Amy: A Remembrance

Rather unsurprisingly, but not any less disheartening, Amy Winehouse has died. Her short career produced two albums, numerous tabloid cover stories, over a dozen awards, and the catalyst for a new generation of female recording artists.

By the time her celebrated album Back to Black was released in 2007, she, Corrine Bailey Rae, and Lily Allen had already laid the groundwork for British female solo artists to enter the musical landscape. The release of her #1 single “Rehab” was as groundbreaking as the dropping of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. It was a song so provocative and so evocative of a previous era that it allowed for the more loveable Duffy, the more talented Adele, and the bigger bravado of Florence Welch to release some of the most successful and important music of the past decade.

Amy Winehouse was identified by many titles. She was often the singer with the drug problem, sometimes the most decorated female artist in Grammy history, but now like her legendary predecessors Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix, she will now be known as dead at 27.

Her gaudy beehive haircut, fluctuating weight, and body piercings made her a difficult sell at concerts, but in order to understand her legend, one must listen to, and not look at, Amy Winehouse. Her soulful energy was effortless and her voice is unmatched in quality by any woman we have seen since Aretha and Janis. The public always identified Amy as a train wreck who couldn’t control her reckless behavior, but ironically her initial appeal came from her brutally honest lyrics. On her second single, she proclaims “I told you I was trouble/you know that I’m no good”. Can we really blame her for not knowing what was coming?

Amy’s legacy will not come from her death, rather it will come from the music she has already released and encouraged. In an era of pro-tools and auto-tune, it’s refreshing to know there’s a contingent of admirable artists who are successfully selling their organic voices. Even if the world only knows the Amy that said “no, no, no” to rehab, I will defend the singer until I can no longer speak. In my opinion, she has earned the ubiquitous first name title, and she is undeniably the greatest female artist of my generation.

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