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Julia Matheson


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back to black

I just got home from watching the Amy Winehouse Documentary tonight. I haven’t been this moved by a documentary in a long time.

An incredibly inspiring, and heart-breaking story of her rise and sudden tragic fall. I’m still trying to process it all . . .  I guess that’s the reason why I am writing.

1401x788-amy-winehouse-documentaryMy face is still wet with tears.

This review from Vanity fair sums it up succinctly:

It’s amazing how you can have heard a song a thousand times and never realize just how real it could be. Amy’s drinking and drug use was starting to really take off just before she recorded her masterpiece, Back to Black.  She recorded the album, became an international superstar, was completely unsuited for the paparazzi lifestyle, and ended up dead five years later.

– Jordan Hoffman.

I love how Jordan talks of how real her songs were. In this day and age you forget that some (true) artists still work this way. She wasn’t sitting in a studio somewhere pushing out pop songs to make hits in the attempt to be famous. She never thought that she could be, nor wanted to be, famous. She just drew on her own experiences, using her pain as fuel to write her songs. That’s why I think people connect to her music so much, you can feel her emotions in every lyric. And because her songs make you FEEL, they remind you you are human. That’s what music does for people.

And THAT VOICE! Wow! This documentary really brings her brilliant voice to the forefront, it almost plays it’s own character. I was reminded of why I fell in love with her in the first place. Her raw, authentic, unapologetic talent.

Tony Bennett (her ultimate idol) is interviewed in the movie, stating that she was one of the true jazz greats, and that she should be treated like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Tony talks about Amy and said:

Of all of the singers that I’ve ever heard – Amy was the best one.

It really makes you think about our celebrity culture, and the hellish roller coaster that is ‘fame’ today. I remember picking up trashy gossip magazines in the doctors surgery years ago and seeing graphic pictures and headlines of her downfall, and hearing comedians on talk show TV joke (poorly) about her addictions. I hope that those same people now recognise their contribution to her unravelling, and think twice next time they want to judge, slander, or violate the privacy of the next celebrity on the scene. This is an all too common story of the devilish role the media plays in the demise of highly public profiles.

Nothing can prepare a person for that kind of experience. Especially one that is prone to darkness, and that suffers from multiple addictions.

The Grammy-winning singer died in July 2011 at 27 years old.

She was far too young to leave this world. She will never know the effect she left behind in her wake.

Tony Bennett poignantly says in the film, “Life tells you how to live it if you can stick around long enough.”

What was beautiful about Amy’s story, and something I believe we can all take away from her legacy, is the power of baring your soul to the world.

She was incredibly genuine. Her legacy teaches us to share ourselves from such an authentic place; our passions, our unique talents and abilities. After all, it’s what makes us different, that is what makes us all so magnificent.

If Amy had of played small, or allowed herself to feel dwarfed by comparison to other performers at the time (from which she was SO different), or listened to any self-limiting beliefs about her ability – she never would have put herself out there, and the world would have never heard that voice. 

Shrinking ourselves doesn’t serve anyone.

There is something so powerful about a person sharing their contribution to the world so purely. No holds barred. Having the courage to show up as our real selves, and let people truly see us. Now THAT’S true vulnerability. And to be that vulnerable, one must draw on incredible strength.

“I want people to hear my voice, and just forget their troubles for 5 minutes”

– Amy Winehouse

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