5 things to know about Amy Winehouse

With the release of the Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black in the US today, David Ho offers up a few facts about the jazz legend gone too soon

She saw jazz as music for the future

Some might see jazz as a bit of an old fashioned music genre, given its historical ties to speakeasies of the 1910’s. But not Winehouse. “I’m not interested in old music. Jazz is not a horn line to me,” she said. “To me, jazz is carrying your freedom forward with music and pushing boundaries, always.”

Winehouse’s familial roots in jazz go deep as many of her maternal uncles are professional jazz musicians. Her paternal grandmother, Cynthia, was also a singer.

She was adamant about writing her own material

“I write all of my own stuff, everything: the music, the words, everything. It’s important for me to write music that’s of my time, and to reflect people who are like myself, my age, and coming from where I’m coming from,” said Winehouse.

Her debut album Frank is both a nod to Frank Sinatra and her bluntness, which is apparent in both her lyrics and her media interviews. “I wouldn’t call a lot of people doing jazz, jazz singers,” she said. “A lot of the stuff out there is not heartfelt, I just wanted to write music that was emotional and that people would want to listen to and connect with.”

She was a supporter of up and coming artists

Winehouse launched her own record label, Lioness Records, in In January 2009. The first artiste on her roster was Winehouse’s then 13-year-old goddaughter Dionne Bromfield. Winehouse is the backing singer on several tracks on Bromfield’s debut album and also performed backing vocals for her on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing show.

Bromfield has paid tribute to Winehouse many times over the years, including a song called “Black Butterfly” inspired by one she saw at her funeral.

She had style

Winehouse is best known for the pin-up girl style she sported in her Back to Black era. Her beehive hairdo, winged eyeliner (former makeup artist Valli O’Reilly revealed that she often used Rimmel London Exaggerate Eye Liner), and 14 known tattoos have become her signature look whenever we think of her. Her tattoos include a “Daddy’s Girl” on her left arm and a pin-up girl with her Jewish grandmother’s name “Cynthia” on her right arm.

Her idol was Tony Bennett

“I was playing Royal Albert Hall for two nights … and she came back with her dad, and her boyfriend,” said Bennett. “She said, ‘You know, two years ago, I won a Grammy, and I wasn’t excited about winning the Grammy, but that Tony Bennett was announcing.’ She was a big fan of mine, and I was really surprised, because she [was] so young.”

When they eventually worked together on song “Body and Soul” in 2011, Bennett calmed a nervous Winehouse by telling her that he could tell she was influenced by Dinah Washington. Bennett claimed it helped her feel understood and relaxed her when they traded notes on the jazz #legend.

Their work on the track for his Duets II album ended up being Winehouse’s last recording. She passed away only four months later from alcohol poisoning at the age of 27.

Photos from Instagram @amywinehouse

Also see: 5 things to know about Mirror’s Keung To

In this Story: #culture / #entertainment