By Moira Cue
This article is about Amy Winehouse the diva, Amy Winehouse the soul, Amy Winehouse the icon. Though it is impossible to separate Amy from her pain and sorrow, we will attempt here to remember her with respect and focus on many things she did exceptionally well.
Style. She understood the time she was in. Amy knew how to innovate, and how to hit a nerve with audiences. Amy understood the idea that "it's all been done before," and that the original choices an artist can make today involve original pairing, the mixture of ideas that have not been mixed before, rather than new ideas, which are arguably impossible, or a new rehash of old ideas. And so the risks Amy took were with style and also with the level of intimacy she bared in a world that has seen it all. Her extreme vulnerability still impacted us. While her tattoos screamed "biker chick" and her torn jeans "punk," her giant beehive of black hair, red lipstick and nails, and black eyeliner were straight up borrowed from The Ronettes. A carefully chosen palette. Amy used red and black, bold colors, to accent her bold sound.
Brass. Amy knew how to use a big brass band. Backing your vocals with a wall of brass takes a lot of chutzpah, and Amy was a jazz siren for all ages.
A heart of gold. "Ask Amy, she'll do it," was the word among London's charities; her list of contributions is lengthy, and her family is currently involved in the Amy Winehouse Foundation to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse among tomorrow's artists.
And most of all, Amy had soul. The voice is the exterior manifestation of an intentional internal vibration of the organs against the bones. While musicians learn to play their chosen instrument, a vocalists uses the body and nothing else. Amy's voice suggested power, vulnerability, a raspy weariness, confidence, swagger, defiance and submission all at once. It is in her voice we hear the part of Amy that was untouched, at first, by all her troubles.
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