Having tragically died at the age of twenty-seven one year ago today, Amy Jade Winehouse’s legacy continues to live on.
Finding fame in 2003 with her debut album Frank, Amy brought the often undermined jazz and soul scene to the mainstream and made it accessible and up to date for younger listeners. Her voice was unique and inimitable. Her lyrics, always honest and witty (and often dark and emotional), enabled people from all walks of life to associate and empathise with her.
Throughout her career, her music was always changing and varying in terms of subject matter, content and style, but her voice and talent was always consistent and recognisable. She collaborated with a range of artists, from Nas and Mark Ronson to Tony Bennett and Quincy Jones, and without a doubt inspired everyone interested in music in some way or another.
Not one thing about Amy was generic. From her 1960s-inspired beehive hairstyle, to her love of dramatic makeup and frequent experiments with clothes and accessories, she was special and extraordinary.
Despite her ongoing battle with addiction, which frequently left her open to criticism and judgment from the less well-informed members of society, Amy was likeable, funny, and sincere. Her illness ultimately caused her death, and the world was left in shock and sadness on the Saturday afternoon when her passing was confirmed.
We at Mixtape Madness hold Amy in highest regard as one of the most charming, talented and significant pioneers of urban music of the past decade. We took some time out to think about her contribution to music and compiled a list of our favourite tracks, from the very early part of her career, to her posthumous releases…
From Amy’s first album, Frank, Stronger Than Me is a humorous, sharp and matter-of-fact sneer at the futility of attempting a relationship destined for failure…
Take The Box is one of the tracks that will always make me shed a tear without fail. It is touching and affecting, and the power of her deep contralto voice is hard-hitting…
Arguably Amy’s most famous track, Rehab, taken from second album Back to Black is both heartbreaking, owing to the irony of the lyrics, and witty, thanks to her tongue-in-cheek attitude…
During her darker moments, Back to Black was one of her more desolate, inhibited tracks…
Posthumously released Like Smoke, a collaboration with Nas, is as haunting and unforgettable as it is cherished and esteemed in the urban community. ..
It really does feel sometimes that Amy’s death came at a time when she was reaching the peak of her career. She had always delivered unforgettable, remarkable albums and performances, but part of me cannot help but to wonder whether she had really shown us the full extent of her talent by the time she passed.
It is correct that she was often condemned for suffering with addiction (I will always fail to understand how people can deplore those that suffer from such a crippling illness), and I’m sure she was aware that a lot of people judged her for this, but one thing is certain: Amy Winehouse always came out on top. She caused people across the world to unite in the name of music. Whether you are a fan of Amy or not, nobody can deny that she made a heavy impact, and her voice is one that will linger for decades to come.
RIP Amy, 14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011