Amy Winehouse, the Grammy Award winning soul-revivalist, was found dead in her London apartment Saturday afternoon. She, like a tragic number of other troubled musicians, was only 27. While the details of her passing are still unsettled, it’s widely assumed Winehouse’s death had something to do with her practically-trademark hard-living. The singer so publicly struggled with addiction (even capitalizing on it with her first huge single this side of the Atlantic, “Rehab”) that outside of her devoted circle of fans, many have been quick to jump to a “She didn’t care about her life; why should I?” response. Her tabloid behavior may have upstaged her musical endeavors in recent years, but her brief career displayed an inspired talent that’s a shame to have lost. And whatever the cause, her death shines a spotlight on the very real issue of addiction that so many people struggle to overcome.
Combining hip hop’s sensibility with Motown’s soul and 60s girl-group style, Amy Winehouse left her mark on the musical and pop-culture landscapes with only two albums, 2003’s Frank and 2006’s Back To Black. Her nearly-raspy contralto was jarring but welcomed in pop’s field of manufactured vocals, paving the way for a number of singers who couldn’t quite shove into the industry mold. Maybe most importantly, she affixed a modern, personal authenticity to throwback fetishism, elevating her retro jams beyond what could so easily have become to forgotten pop gimmickry.
Here’s love for Amy’s music and for all of those coping with addiction and substance abuse, whether they have a record deal or not.
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