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Amy Winehouse


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I saw Ronnie Spector last Saturday, and when she did "Back to Black," I couldn't help but think that Amy Winehouse was a much better singer.

 

Got to give her at least that much.

this is not exactly an apples to apples thing. Ronnie has logged a lot of miles and had to deal with his Philness for whatever that is worth. still, sober or half sober, Winehouse probably was better.

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I had this thought shortly after the death but forgot to share it. Perhaps it's still of interest. As I said earlier, the notion of someone from Amy's generation somehow being responsible for poaching black music styles seems strained to me, simply because such a long history of white British vocal stylists preceded her; she could have derived her whole sound and look from Dusty Springfield and those bee-hivists who followed her.

 

Then I had an arguably more interesting thought. I saw a quote in which Winehouse insisted on characterizing herself as a jazz performer rather than soul or R&B singer. I suddenly realized who she reminded me of, above all the others I mentioned.

 

Cleo Laine.

 

I don't know if Laine had any profile in the States, but she was the doyenne of British jazz singers for decades; a household name through my youth, and although Amy was younger I can't conceive that she didn't know her work.

 

Now Cleo Laine is a black performer. Except she's also British, born in west London, and her black heritage is Jamaican. Was Cleo Laine aping black American jazz styles?

 

Complicated old world.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e48tmnqg5bc

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<snip.

Cleo Laine.

 

I don't know if Laine had any profile in the States, but she was the doyenne of British jazz singers for decades; a household name through my youth, and although Amy was younger I can't conceive that she didn't know her work.

 

Now Cleo Laine is a black performer. Except she's also British, born in west London, and her black heritage is Jamaican. Was Cleo Laine aping black American jazz styles?

 

Complicated old world.

 

 

 

Please -- don't make it sound as though she's gone. It's Johnny Dankworth who died, not Dame Cleo. In fact, he died right before she and their kids were supposed to perform. (They did anyway, the troupers.)

 

And yes, we know and love her.

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