RIP to a true legend
Lucy Wynne
10:40 23rd July 2021

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What would the music world look like today if we had never been introduced to Amy Winehouse? Would artists like Adele, Florence Welch, Elle Goulding, Lady Gaga, and Lana Del Rey have experienced the same rise to prominence? Amy’s unconventional style and phenomenal voice showed that female pop artists didn’t need to look or sound a certain way to ‘fit the mold’ - Amy created her own.

The queen of British soul music, the songwriting extraordinaire, and the broken soul that was picked apart by the media, the paparazzi, fans and the music industry was born on 14 September 1983. Her career was one of many many highs but one of some excruciatingly painful lows too. Known for her '60s beehive, winged eyeliner and her deep, expressive contralto vocals, Amy became one of the best international artists of the 21st Century.

Her death at 27 was one that rippled shockwaves through not only the nation, but the entire world. 

Millions of people mourned her death (to alcohol poisoning) on 23 July 2011; many people went to the singer’s home in Camden to lay down flowers and pay their respects, and those close to her were, understandably, torn to bits. Fellow songwriter, close friend and producer of Back to Black Mark Ronson said at the time: "She was my musical soulmate and like a sister to me. This is one of the saddest days of my life." 

Although her musical career was short, Amy made an incredible impact. Pop legend Lady Gaga revealed the influence the British star had on her when she Tweeted: "Amy changed pop music forever. I remember knowing there was hope, and feeling not alone because of her. She lived jazz, she lived the blues." 

Amy had already tasted modest success with her debut album Frank, which she released aged 20 in 2003. A jazzy, bluesy affair, the critically acclaimed debut had two BRIT Award nominations that year, with ‘Stronger Than Me’ taking an Ivor Novello Award. It was also the first and last jazz album she made. Amy never wanted to restrict herself to one genre and instead mixed all of her influences, combining multiple genres to create a sound so distinctive and unique that whenever you hear Amy you knew it was her.

Winehouse’s second release Back to Black ended up being the best-selling album of 2007 in the UK, selling 1.85 million copies. The BPI certified the album x13 Platinum on 30 March 2018, and by October 2018, it had sold 3.93 million copies, making it the UK's second best-selling album of the 21st century so far (behind Adele’s 21) as well as the 13th best-selling album in the UK of all time. 

During her career, Winehouse received 23 awards from 60 nominations. She embodied and harnessed decades of genres, styles and fashions, yet retained a completely unique image.

She was a tiny woman with big hair and eyeliner that was outselling the English boys and their guitar riffs at a time where post-punk revivalists like Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines and The Strokes were also at their prime. 

After the release—and success—of Back to Black, record companies sought out more experimental female artists. Other female artists signed to major labels around the time included Adele, Duffy, V V Brown, Florence and the Machine, and La Roux. Amy paved the way for other female stars with not only her talent but also her unique style and honest demeanor, making her arguably one of the most influential, authentic, and greatest artists of all time.

When you think of Amy, make sure it’s the positives. Remember the Amy that would light up a room with her presence and silence it with her voice. RIP Amy, the world misses you. X

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