Back to black: Remembering the musical genius of Amy Winehouse

  • Amy Winehouse was an English singer-songwriter known for her powerful contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres including R&B, soul and jazz.
  • British singer Amy Winehouse poses for photographs after being interviewed by The Associated Press at a studio in north London on Feb. 16, 2007. The director of award-winning film “Senna” is making a documentary about the late soul singer Amy Winehouse. The Winehouse family said in a statement on April 25, 2013, that it had been approached with many documentary proposals, but “Senna” director Asif Kapadia and producer James Gay-Rees presented a vision that would “look at Amy’s story sensitively, honestly and without sensationalizing her.” 
  • Amy Winehouse in concert at the Highline Ballroom in New York City on May 8, 2007.
  • Amy Winehouse performs on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 28, 2008 in Glastonbury, Somerset, England. Nearly 175,000 people were expected to be on site for the three-day music festival, which featured headline acts like Kings of Leon, rapper Jay-Z and Britpop veterans The Verve. 
  • Amy Winehouse and husband Blake Fielder in 2007. 
  • Amy Winehouse pictured here on March 11, 2004. 
  • English singer Amy Winehouse posed in a launderette on Camden Parkway, North London in February 2003. 
  • Amy Winehouse with her father, Mitch Winehouse, at home while chatting to passing children who knocked on her door to say hello on May 14, 2008, in London, England.
  • Amy Winehouse at the Barfly Club in London on March 2, 2004.
  • An undated photo of Amy Winehouse in front of her house in Camden, London.
  • Dionne Bromfield, 13-year-old singer and goddaughter of Amy Winehouse, pictured with Amy. Dionne was the first act to be signed to Amy Winehouse’s label, Lioness Records, and was shown on YouTube, singing on a video recorded with Amy and Pete Doherty.

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Four years ago, on July 23, 2011, the universe lost one of its brightest stars: singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. On top of the world after winning five Grammys for her multi-platinum album “Back to Black,” the human side of the superstar was suddenly apparent. After years of struggling with substance abuse, Winehouse’s body was found alone in her bedroom. In the hours leading up to her death by alcohol poisoning, she had binged on vodka and viewed YouTube clips of herself, a coroner later concluded.

RELATED: Film captures Amy Winehouse’s life, legacy

When Winehouse sang, each note that came out her mouth bemoaned the agony and torment that the soul singer had experienced during her short 27 years of life as she battled the pains of addiction and a tormented relationship with her jailed ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. It was out of these struggles that Winehouse also gave birth to her masterpiece album, channeling her profound sadness to create the deeply personal collection of heartbreak songs that was released in 2006.

The lead single “Rehab,” which would go on to win the Grammy Award for both song and record of the year, laid bare her struggle with addiction.

Winehouse ultimately became a modern-day version of the jazz singers she had listened to as a child on rides in father’s taxi cab. She paved the way for a new generation of artists like Adele, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran. “I don’t think she ever realized just how brilliant she was and how important she is, but that just makes her even more charming,” Adele said at the time of Winehouse’s death.

Years later, her spirit remains a force to be reckoned with, roaring on in the timeless recordings that she created.

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