The last time Amy Winehouse took to a stage was three days before her death. It happened on the night of July 20, 2011, at London’s Roundhouse, a former train depot turned into a concert arena in the popular Camden neighborhood. It was not one of his massive and then unpredictable performances, but that of another singer: Dionne Bromfield. The star got on to sing with one of the people he loved the most and, without a doubt, the one he had helped the most to launch his career, but no one imagined that, at 27 years old and at the peak of fame, never again she would be seen singing in public again.
Fate is capricious. Amy Winehouse’s latest performance made Dionne Bromfield the last person to share the stage with one of the greatest musical icons born in the 21st century. Surely Amy would have wished it that way had she been able to choose. Because the young woman was his goddaughter and his great protégé, a girl with an English mother and a Jamaican father who was six years old when she met Amy. Her mother worked in the music industry and soon became close friends with Winehouse, who became very fond of the little girl. This relationship between the deceased star and Bromfield became quite well known in Winehouse’s lifetime, but it is now that more details are known thanks to the documentary Amy Winehouse & Me: Dionne’s Story, a personal look at the figure of her godmother and mentor that can be seen this Sunday, August 29 at 10:00 am on MTV Spain.
The documentary, which barely lasts 50 minutes, collects the images of that last Winehouse performance. With his usual boisterous hair, he wore jeans and a tight, low-cut black polo shirt. She chewed gum as she danced with Bromfield in her arms. Both, smiling and dancing, sang together Mama Said, the fervent Shirelles song that Bromfield covered pushed by Winehouse in her first British television appearance. It was in October 2009 in the program Strictly Come Dancing, a well-known television contest in which several famous people compete in pairs dance. Winehouse gave the microphone to her goddaughter and began to accompany her as a showgirl along with the rest of the band. That moment is also reflected in this documentary.
Bromfield, whose career is still active and who just released the single Still Love After a decade with no record label news, it took him ten years to make this documentary because he claims it was “locked”, but he also wanted to “let Amy rest.” In a way, the film, which also serves as a commercial shuttle for the former Winehouse protégé, is an excessively personal journey into the young woman’s emotional vicissitudes. The whole walk through the singer’s mourning over the loss of her godmother, such as visiting a psychologist or meeting with young people from drug-addicted parents, loses steam at the details that are revealed about Winehouse’s intimate life.
Homemade videos and photographs from Bromfield’s personal archive show a close Amy, less of a media star, “without her chordate hair and the parting in her eye,” as her goddaughter points out. It was Winehouse, whose maternal instincts were very strong, who asked to be the girl’s godmother and it was also she who encouraged Bromfield to be a singer. As seen in the documentary, Amy played records for the little girl to study the songs. Bromfield says they came together a lot through ska music and that Winehouse loved the band The Specials. In 2008, the star uploaded a video to YouTube in which she was seen accompanying the girl with her guitar as she sang If I Ain’t Got Youby Alicia Keys. Bromfield was 12 years old and the video went viral. Then came the opportunity on British television and his signing for the record label created by Winehouse herself.
The goddaughter tells that Amy, who made history in 2008 by winning five Grammys with the album Back to BlackHe did not have any awards at home and preferred to give them to his mother or his manager. What she liked was going out and getting lost in Camden, she says. As Bromfield herself explains, it was so much so that Amy loved to call herself “the Queen of Camden”, rather than, to confer a title, she said it for her declared love for the most alternative neighborhood of the British capital, where she was currently erects a statue in his honor in the heart of Stables Market. And more vagaries of fate: it was in Camden that he sang for the last time in public, in the aforementioned concert in which he accompanied Bromfield.
A conscientious artist
Music was always waiting for Amy Winehouse. One of the most interesting parts of the film is the one in which the goddaughter talks to Sylvia Young, Winehouse’s teacher at school, and tells that Amy was “brilliant” intellectually and was advanced a year. And yet his singing was even more brilliant and no one doubted that this “wild spirit” would end up dedicating himself to music. For his part, in the conversation with Jon Moon, chief engineer of Winehouse’s records, the profile of an artist is drawn who, despite the excesses with alcohol and drugs, was very serious and conscientious in the recording studio. Also whimsical: he liked to set up small rooms in the recording booth. In this way, she is seen filming on a sofa that she tucked into a cabin that looked like a living room.
It is strange that Bromfield, so close to the deceased star, overlooks Amy Winehouse’s complicated relationship with her father, who used to squeeze his daughter to continue generating money even when she was in very poor health. Or also her comings and goings with her ex-husband or with singer Pete Doherty. In the acclaimed documentary Amy, Directed by Asif Kapadia, they are elements that touch and also explain part of Winehouse’s erratic personality.
Still, on the tenth anniversary of her death, Amy Winehouse continues to arouse interest. Through her documentary, Dionne Bromfield brings a tender and close look. A different opportunity to appreciate that behind an icon, even a myth, there is always a person.
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The young woman who was hiding behind the icon of Amy Winehouse | TV