Amy Winehouse, the British singer who almost single-handedly revived a mass appreciation of soul and R&B, was found dead in her Camden home in London on July 23. Media in every form – blogs, magazines, newspapers – often scrutinized her abuse of drugs and alcohol instead of focusing on her unmistakable talent as a singer and songwriter. While the idea of a young person rising all too quickly to fame and crashing is alarmingly expected, the loss of Winehouse is still incredibly tragic. Fans and fellow musicians have posted their tributes, and here at Cover Me, we look back at a few of her stand-out covers in memoriam.
Winehouse’s career started at an early age after she dropped out of school at the age of 15 and she started performing her own songs at jazz clubs. By 2002 she was signed to EMI and in 2003 her jazz and hip-hop infused debut, Frank, was released in the U.K. The album contained two jazz covers: Isham Jones’ “There Is No Greater Love” and James Moody’s “Moody’s Mood For Love.” Tracks like this garnered countless Billie Holiday comparisons for the young singer. The album itself did not gather much commercial attention with its initial release, but earned critical accolades and proved a fantastic start to what anyone who heard it was sure would be a long and successful career.
Amy Winehouse – (There Is) No Greater Love (Isham Jones cover)
Amy Winehouse – Moody’s Mood for Love (James Moody cover)
Shortly after Frank’s release, she covered The Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” for the film Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. As if the two aforementioned covers did not already paint Winehouse as a painstakingly talented soul singer, this stripped-down version gave us a glimpse of the self-deprecating, honest, and lovesick traits that would make Winehouse’s next album.
Amy Winehouse – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (The Shirelles cover)
2006’s Back to Black solidified her buddingstar status. The album earned six Grammy nominations and won five, including Best Pop Vocal Album and Best New Artist. She also won a slew of other accolades for the album, making it on nearly every major music publications’ “Best Of” list at year’s end. The first single, “Rehab,” gained massive attention not only for its undeniable catchiness, but also because of what in retrospect seems an early sign of her downfall.
Oddly enough, one of the top songs Winehouse is known for is her rendition of The Zutons’ Valerie. The song appeared on Back to Black producer Mark Ronson’s covers album, Version. Rolling Stone called the track the only “notable recording” of Winehouse’s since Back to Black.
Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse – Valerie (The Zutons cover)
In 2008, a deluxe version of Back in Black was released, trying to maintain the hype while the world waited on a new record. Various editions included several covers, including Phil Spector’s “To Know Him Is To Love Him,” performed with his first group the Teddy Bears, and The Specials’ “Hey Little Rich Girl.”
Amy Winehouse – To Know Him Is to Love Him (The Teddy Bears cover)
Amy Winehouse – Hey Little Rich Girl (The Specials cover)
Unfortunately for fans, Winehouse’s addictions prevented her from completing another studio album. One of her final projects was a cover of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” for the Quincy Jones tribute album Q Soul Bossa Nostra, which was released last November. The track epitomizes Winehouse’s media-hounded private life and her couldn’t-care-less-attitude about what others thought about her destructive lifestyle choices.
Amy Winehouse – It’s My Party (Lesley Gore cover)
Now, in July 2011, Winehouse joins other musicians who died too soon in the 27 Club. It is easy to ridicule her seemingly-cliched and drug-infused life, but it should be remembered that it was her music that made her a star in the first place, not the addictions. Her songs were steeped with an inherent and genuine ache and punchy self-criticism that few others have been able to emulate.
Rest in Peace Amy Winehouse, 1983-2011