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Born in London to a taxi driver father and pharmacist mother, neo-soul and R&B singer Amy Winehouse grew up surrounded by the music that would influence her wildly successful but tragically short career. Winehouse's father often played records and sang jazz and old pop standards like the Rat Pack to her as a child, and her grandmother and uncles were also professional musicians. Her highly musical family encouraged her pursuit of professional singing, and as a teenager she attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School, a prestigious performing arts school that trains many famous UK actors and entertainers.
During and after her school years, Winehouse began performing jazz standards with local and national big bands, as well as writing original songs. Through these early performances, Winehouse developed her own singing style that took inspiration from early jazz vocalists like Etta James and Sarah Vaughn. Her image borrowed many elements from 1960s girl groups, the Ronettes in particular for the enormous and iconic beehive hairstyle she wore up until her death.
Visually, with her short cocktail dresses, tattoos, heavy eyeliner and gold jewelry, Winehouse created a style jarringly unique amidst a sea of polished and glossy pop stars and hipster singer-songwriters. Her stylistic choices also spawned a new generation of early 20th century soul and jazz revivalists, such as Adele and Duffy, who showcase powerful voices and substantive lyrics independent of a sleek pop image.
Eventually achieving Double-Platinum Record status, Winehouse's 2003 debut album Frank was released to rave critical reviews, and steadily climbed to the higher end of UK album charts. Including the singles "Stronger Than Me" and "Take The Box", the album won Winehouse a coveted Ivor Novello award for songwriting, as well as several BRIT nominations.
Stylistically, Frank's all but two original tracks are primarily jazz-influenced, and take cues from jazz legends like Billie Holliday and Nina Simone. Always shining in live performances, Winehouse promoted Frank on international tours, with venues including the Montreal International Jazz Festival where she performed on stages once occupied by jazz greats like Pat Metheny and Dave Brubeck, then the Glastonbury Festival, and countless others throughout 2003 and 2004.
After the astonishing success of her debut, Winehouse released in 2006 what would be her second and last studio effort while still living, the phenomenally successful Back To Black. Released to the impossible precedent set by Frank, Winehouse's second effort proved even more successful than her debut, entering UK charts at number three and achieving number one spot in most countries soon after. In the UK, it achieved an incredible eight-times Platinum Record status, and became a Double-Platinum Record in the US.
The album's musical influences take Winehouse in a different direction than the jazz-soul of her debut, and this time around draw inspiration mainly from her beloved 1960s girl groups. Her staggeringly powerful voice again won her accolades from critics, who also praised Mark Ronson's and Salaam Remi's nearly flawless production. The album also spawned the smash hit singles "Rehab", a reflection on her personal troubles with drugs and alcohol, and "You Know I'm No Good".
After a period of touring and working on projects with other artists such as Quincy Jones and Tony Bennet, Amy Winehouse tragically passed away at the age of 27 in 2011. An album of selected previously unreleased material was released posthumously, entitled Lioness: Hidden Treasures. Everything Collectible has a great collection of both Gold and Platinum Record displays to remember the legendary Amy Winehouse.