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Amy Winehouse: A death foretold

Last updated on: July 25, 2011 11:12 IST

Amy Winehouse: A death foretold

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When Amy Winehouse was found dead in her Camden residence -- in North London -- on Saturday night, most of us assumed that it was another of those drug overdose incidents.

And not without reason. While she was a gifted musician and was admired all over the world for her powerful yet fragile voice and powerful lyrics, substance abuse and erractic behaviour were bigger parts of her stardom. 

But everybody has a different take on her. While the people who 'get' her music swear by her prodigious talent and the contributions she'd made to soul music, others were are quite taken by her eccentric outfits and her world-weary wisdom, traces of which we find in her lyrics and her opinion of her contemporaries.


Image: Amy Winehouse in a 2009 picture
Photographs: Reuters/Kieran Doherty
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She was that immeasurably talented but troubled girl who had a booming voice and a way with words. 

Born in the Southgate area of North London to Jewish parents, Amy's first encounters with music were at home -- her father, a taxi driver would sing Frank Sinatra songs to her while she was growing up.

After she showed an early aptitude for music, Amy was encouraged by her grandmother to hone her skills. That was the time when she developed interest in Jazz, which would later reflect prominently in her music.

The singer first rose to prominence with her critically acclaimed debut album Frank in 2003. She was hailed as 'an excellent vocalist possessing both power and subtlety'.

Her second album Back to Black released in 2006 and featured the most-well known of all her songs -- Rehab. It released to a great response in the US and went on to win five Grammys in 2007.


Image: Amy Winehouse at a performance in Sao Paulo this January
Photographs: Reuters/Nacho Doce
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It wasn't just about record sales and Billboard ratings though.

Amy Winehouse gained a lot of accolades for bringing such genres of music like Soul and Jazz to the mainstream, paving way for other emerging musicians, not only from the UK but also from other parts of the world.

British singer Adele had credited Winehouse's success in the United States for making her and fellow British singer Duffy's journey to the United States 'a bit smoother'. 

Lady Gaga also credited Winehouse with paving the way for her rise to the top of the charts. She appeared to be using a metaphorical analogy to explain that Winehouse made it easier for unconventional women like herself to have mainstream pop success.

Amy reached far and wide with her music, popularising her genre, gaining recognition and respect for her talent and sharing the rare gift that she had.

Unfortunately, her life was peppered with a manic depressive disorder and encounters with drugs and alcohol. She'd shown the first signs of a self-destructive tendencies as a kid. Her father Mitch Winehouse was once quoted as saying, 'She's always been a very self-willed kid.'


Image: Amy Winehouse performs during the Rock in Rio music festival in Arganda del Rey, near Madrid
Photographs: Reuters/Juan Medina
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Amy was reportedly introduced to drugs by her former husband Blake Fielder-Civil. She met Blake in 2003, starting an infamously tempestuous relationship that was regulated by drug abuse, drinking binges and violent tiffs. But the couple parted ways after Blake's several run-ins with the law.

In the many tributes that followed the news of her passing away, the most notable one came from music producer and one of her closest friends Mark Ronson who said that she was his music soulmate. British comedian Russell Brand posted a rather touching account of his relationship with the late singer on his website.

He wrote: 'Entering the space I saw Amy on stage with [Paul] Weller and his band; and then the awe. The awe that envelops when witnessing a genius. My ears, my mouth, my heart and mind all instantly opened. So now I knew. She wasn't just some hapless wannabe... she was a f**king genius.'

This may be only the next one in the long list of prolific journeys cut short, there's still hope that all the artists who bloomed in the wake of the phenomenon called Amy Winehouse will carry her legacy forward.


Image: Amy Winehouse vigil outside the late singer's North London home
Photographs: Sylvia Linares/Getty Images
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