The Impact of Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse, a woman unjustly demonized by the media, but dearly loved by family, friends, and fans. The eccentric music artist who changed the music industry forever.

Amy Winehouse: a legend in her own time!

Rama, CC BY-SA 2.0 FR , via Wikimedia Commons

Amy Winehouse: a legend in her own time!

Amy Winehouse: the first British woman to win five Grammys. The woman photographed with scratches and bruises with blood by the paparazzi. The woman who ultimately changed the discussion surrounding mental health. Amy Winehouse is not only infamous for her unique voice and style but her larger-than-life personality. A beacon of light in the darkest of spaces, Amy could alter the energy in a room the moment she entered.

Amy Winehouse performing one of her many hit songs.

Amy was born on September 14, 1983, in Southgate, London, the United Kingdom to Mitch and Janis Winehouse. At age 12, Amy began attending school at Slyvia Young Theatre School, and at age 16, signed with Simon Fuller. On October 20, 2003, Amy’s first album, Frank, went platinum, and in 2007, Amy’s album, Back to Black, hits No. 7 on the Billboard charts. In 2005, Amy met her husband, Blake Fiedler-Civil, at a pub, leading to the beginning of the downward wellbeing of her mental and physical health. Since Amy was a teenager, she struggled with bulimia, but meeting Blake caused her to adopt other destructive tendencies: Amy began to develop a drug addiction and alcoholism. At live performances, Amy would perform while under the influence, causing crowds to boo and criticize her. Additionally, Amy and Blake became incredibly emotionally and physically abusive to each other. Unfortunately, Amy died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, at age 27.

Amy’s music reflected her life and mental health. As her mental health declined, her beehive only grew. Her debut album, Frank, is filled with tragedy and joy, showing Amy in her most relatable form. From groupies to infidelity, Amy discusses an array of topics. Additionally, Amy’s debut has many influences, including Nas street anthems and Billy Holiday. While other music artists failed in creating jazz-rap hybrid albums, Amy succeeded from the get-go. In Back to Black, Amy explores darker themes, such as heartbreak and tribulation. In Rehab, the album’s ironic first single, Amy sings about her refusal to go to rehabilitation for her drug and alcohol addiction. “They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said ‘no, no, no’.” Other songs, such as Some Unholy War and Tears Dry on Their Own, illustrate the dark nature of Amy and Blake’s co-dependent relationship.

Amy posing with her backing singers.

Many musical artists today are inspired by Amy’s work. From Lady Gaga to Lana Del Rey to Florence and the Machine, Amy’s impact is undeniable. She inspired many artists’ “unconventional” styles, creating a new type of artist. Amy is even credited for kick-starting the Third British Invasion, a surge of popularity of British music artists in the United States in 2012. Prior to Back to Black’s release, British music popularity in the United States was the lowest it has ever been. However, Back to Black was highly successful, and at the time, was the highest-ranking debut album by a British female artist. In turn, by 2011, 1 in 8 albums sold in the United States were by British music artists.
However, Amy’s legacy lives on at the Amy

Flowers and other gifts brought to Amy’s memorial by fans, family, and friends.

Winehouse Foundation, dedicated to helping women and children who struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse. The Amy Winehouse Foundation has a program called “Amy’s Place”, which provides young women leaving rehabilitation a safe home. “Amy’s Place” helps women learn necessary life skills and coping mechanisms to maintain sobriety. In addition to “Amy’s Place,” the Amy Winehouse Foundation has a music therapy program for children. Partnering with the Haven House, a children’s hospice located in Essex, the Amy Winehouse Foundation built the Amy Winehouse Foundation Music Room. In the music room, families can work with therapists while enjoying music.

Although not all of Amy’s life was glitz and glamor, she transformed the lives of millions, and her memory lives on with her friends, beloved fans, and family. Amy changed the discussion surrounding mental health in the music industry. She was failed by those surrounding her, the people who were supposed to protect her: management, family, friends, and the industry. In hearing Amy’s story, perhaps other young and coming stars can be spared from the same fated end Amy met.