Amy Winehouse, soul and R&B vocalist, was found dead of an apparent, but unconfirmed, drug overdose in her North London apartment today. She was twenty-seven years old at the time.

It is a sad but not surprising development; she had battled numerous health, mental and substance abuse problems throughout her life and career. As fans of her, however, we are still shocked. She was one of the daughters of this soul and R&B revival that we are currently witnessing. (Here at The Superslice, we’re huge fans of the neo-soul movement. That includes all the Daptone stuff, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, the Mark Ronson sound, Aloe Blacc and Mayer Hawthorne. How popular and famous is Adele now?! What ever happened to D’Angelo? Winehouse was included in this wave and was a scion.) She rose to international prominence in the soul-music phase of her career by performing with Sharon Jones‘ band The Dap-Kings and by perfectly melding her authentic vocals with the production of Mark Ronson.

Winehouse’s inner-demons persisted and her career devolved into being mostly tabloid fodder. It was similar to watching Anna Nicole Smith; she became the butt of talk show monologue jokes with the public pointing and laughing at her foibles and struggles (You can bet those same hypocritical people are proclaiming how sad and tragic this is now.). But the ones that recognized her immense talent, like us, were pulling for her. Though it wasn’t enough for this one, her problems were too much.

In her last performance, which took place last month in Serbia, she could barely stand and was booed off stage. They subsequently cancelled the tour, an omen and a precursor to today’s tragic discovery. We are somewhat relieved that the tortured artist and troubled singer finally sought some solace, but we are saddened and disappointed that all that talent was wasted and pilfered away. At least the world got two albums out of her.

Rest in peace, Amy Winehouse…

Steven Hyden from A.V. Club has some thoughts (excerpt):

…If that comes across as cynical, well, Winehouse was treated with a lot of cynicism as her life appeared to slowly circle the drain, and then struggle in vain to crawl up out of it. Because no matter how many post-mortem tributes her music and (mostly unrealized) reservoir of talent inspires now that she’s gone, the fact is that Amy Winehouse spent much of her time in the spotlight as a cheap punchline for the media and millions of pop-culture rubber-neckers. That the self-aware “Rehab” was Winehouse’s best-known song—it won her three Grammys in 2008, for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, to go along with trophies for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album for Back To Black—suggested that she had some perspective on her public persona. But the world kept on laughing long after the joke stopped being funny…

 

Bethlehem Shoals (excerpt):

…Here’s that crucial breach, where I remember that we don’t really know famous people; that our relationship with them is fundamentally external, while the things that drive self-destructive behavior lurk deep within; and that, paradoxically, having any first-hand authority on these subjects might make us even less qualified to comment, since that just exposes us as observers with a personal stake in the perception of Winehouse and others. I don’t understand Amy Winehouse, and even if I choose to sympathize, it’s only slightly more dignified than her biggest fan bemoaning the end of the music. So all we have, as in life, is Winehouse as metaphor, whether for a certain kind of creativity, or the wrong way to live your life…

Winehouse performing at Eurockéennes in 2007

Performing at Eurockéennes in Belfort, Territoire de Belfort, France on 29 June 2007

Amy, the early days

Winehouse, circa 2007

Amy Winehouse in 2007


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