The music world lost a huge talent yesterday with the passing of Amy Winehouse. How sad to see someone with so much ability just self-destruct from drug addiction. I always hoped Amy would get herself together and put out another fantastic album. Frank and Back To Black have pretty much been in my rotation constantly since they came out, and now I guess I'll have to settle for that (in fact, I played my first CD copy of Back To Black so much I actually wore it out and had to replace it a few years ago!).
When I first heard Amy, she blew me away with her big soulful voice and modern twist on old-style R&B, which I've always loved. It made me hungry for more of that kind of music, and when I created an Amy Winehouse station on Pandora, I became exposed to the new soul music that was coming out of the UK, which we weren't getting over here yet. Noisettes, Florence + The Machine, Imelda May, Adele, Joss Stone...all these artists I first discovered via Pandora because Amy's voice made me want to seek out their kind of music. Ditto snarky British songstresses like Lily Allen and Kate Nash.
It also must be said that I loved Amy's over-the-top stylized 60s look. The exaggerated beehive hair and cat-eye make-up mixed up with vintage and random modern clothes created an instantly recognizable style that fit her music perfectly.
A few years ago, a friend made me a mix of outtakes and rare recordings of Amy, and this cover of the Zutons' "Valerie" is one of my favorites. I was glad to find this video version; it really shows off the big voice coming out of her small body and highlights her incredibly soulful phrasing.