YouTube may have changed the way people see video, but for me, it has changed how I choose new music to download. As Lily Allen, the new Norah Jones album, and Lady Sovereign made headlines, I went on YouTube for a private concert.
That’s where I first heard British soul singer Amy Winehouse, a self described “violent drunk,” as she tottered her way through Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Winehouse has been on my radar from gossip websites where photographs of her with cocaine dribbling from her nostrils and giving her first US performance stoned, are staple. But what distinguishes this young musician from others with similarly unfortunate interests is her outstanding singing talent.
You see before you a ratty haired, ghostly-pale, stick figure about to fall over. You hear a throaty, sensuous, tortured diva whose magical voice conjures an image of Billie Holiday crooning in a smoky bar in New York. Winehouse’s second album Back to Black, which includes the singles “Rehab” and “You Know I’m No Good,” is stunning. While her first album, Frank, released at age 19, is the classic no one has ever heard, her sophomore effort has long swept past British shores. She has been compared to Holiday—whose personal life was no picnic either—and to Nina Simone. But it’s clear from Winehouse’s music that sometime in the future there will be young soul singers who will be compared to her.