On Saturday, July 23, in London, the Amy Winehouse story came to its tragic, but inevitable conclusion: The 27-year-old Grammy-winning singer was found dead in her Camden home. The official cause of death has yet to be ascertained, but all signs point to an overdose, considering her well-publicized history with drugs and alcohol.
Celebrities, fans, critics and observers have weighed in on the death of the singer over the weekend. They've mostly aired platitudes saying, "Can't believe she's gone," "so tragic," "her music will live on forever," and so forth. Although Katy Perry's husband, Russell Brand, did share a poignant and eloquent essay on his encounters with Amy and his thoughts on her talent. It's worth quoting:
Entering the space I saw Amy on stage with Weller and his band; and then the awe. The awe that envelops when witnessing a genius. From her oddly dainty presence that voice, a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie and Ella, from the font of all greatness. A voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine.
The proverbial saying is that there's a thin line between genius and insanity. Amy's case certainly adds weight to that assertion as her talent, which bordered on genius, seemed unfairly intertwined with the demons of addiction and insanity.
Her addictions and self-destructive ways didn't damage just her exterior, it cut short her creative output, leaving her with a woefully short discography. Amy only has two studio albums to her name, and her last album, the breakthrough Back to Black, was released in 2006. But what an album BTB was. It's the one that won her all those Grammys, the one that made her a household name.
Amy's brief discography is unlikely to prevent her from being revered though, because like Lauryn Hill, the power of the promise she represented is so strong that a lack of product and consistency can't extinguish it. When an artist truly has that x-factor, people will recognize it and hold on to it. It becomes a legend onto itself, even when the star that spawned the legend becomes a hollow, ruined shell of herself.
So in a way, Amy Winehouse will remain frozen in time. Oh sure, the jokes about her disheveled, dirty, drugged out appearances will come. And fans will be up in arms and scream about the disrespect. But they can seek solace in the fact that although the demons ultimately conquered Amy Winehouse, for a moment in time, Amy Winehouse conquered the world. She kissed the sky. And that's more than a hell of a lot of people can say about their existence.