“What best distinguished her from her contemporaries, and successors, was what she learned from Bessie Smith and Dinah Washington, from Chet Baker and Mel Tormé”
In July 2011 the news of Amy Winehouse’s death reached us like a jug of cold water. Time keeps putting her in her place: no one overshadows her. By Julio Valdeón.
A section of JULIO VALDEÓN.
Hard to believe. It’s been ten years since Amy Winehouse went out looking for Billie Holiday. It was the most contradictory diva. The badass or hooligan with more records on the mental jukebox than almost anyone. The nervous, skinny girl who wanted to be Etta James. Hairstyle like Ronnie Spector and as wild in her phrasing and presence as a UK-born soleá priestess. It was for life obsessed with girl groups. He crossed the stages with the face of a bruised panther. He had some high-quality shit in his pockets, a mixture of blues and soul, reggae and jazz. Beyond the influences and winks, what best distinguishes her from her contemporaries, and successors, was what she learned from Bessie Smith and Dinah Washington, from Chet Baker and Mel Tormé. Namely. That less is more. That the best singers are not those who try at all costs to exhibit their virtues, painstaking record holders of all scales, but those, subtle, intelligent, who put their throats at the service of what they sing, and not the song at the service of the ego.
Amy, who was born in 1983 and ended her nights giving the vultures of tabloid papers and black-eyed readers to talk, delighted with her stumbles on stage and her monumental drunkenness, was the daughter of a taxi driver, a proletariat, with music in her veins . Various ancestors, including grandmothers, were enthusiastic jazz singers. I remember that the maternal grandmother, Cynthia, recommended to the parents of the child that they enroll her in schools of those that cultivate the artistic vocation. Fortunately, Amy came out answering and they expelled her: nothing guarantees failure more and better than following the advice of the singing teachers, so pedagogical and regulated as unable to rehearse their own path, ready to challenge textbooks and manuals. Yes, I would study later in one of those academies that help future professionals.
But he had the instinct, or the ability, the personality, the intelligence, to take advantage of the good, the practical, the tricks, without submitting to conventional dictatorships., which hardly serve to succeed in musicals. The anger, the dodgy thing, the threatening and lazy phrasing, almost the purr of a hungry feline, survived the successive teachers. As I wrote in issue 7 of Efe Eme Notebooks, that dragged, almost tango touch, will be one of his keys, rising several kilometers above the Adele and other experts in mannerisms with a condom on. He left two wonderful records, Frank and Back to black, which is already, directly, a bloody masterpiece. When jazzy cravings incorporate the tasty Jamaican submachine gun, the echoes of the Brill Building, the echoes of Phil Spector and a stunning contemporary sound. Ten years, yes. Among the aspirants to occupy his throne, no one has come out even remotely up to the task.
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Nobody at Amy’s height