What made Amy Winehouse such a marvelous singer had more to do than the fact that she possessed a great voice, perfectly suited for R&B, quite unlike anyone else's yet firmly within the tradition of great R&B singers, regardless of gender or race. As a white girl her only peer was Teena Marie, whom I think she was better than, if for no other reason than Winehouse's persona was so much more her own, her presence so much larger. It wasn't just that she had great phrasing and an artist's intuition of how a song should sound. No, there was something more to it.
With her one classic album, Back to Black, Winehouse gave a ferocious update on the 60's pop/soul sound that is unlikely to be duplicated anytime soon with such equal impact. Her lyrics angrily rubbed out the false sheen of happiness and hope found on the records she so obviously admired and was influenced by. Winehouse's songs were about what really happened once the singer left the stage, the life behind the lights, the despair, the self-destruction and insecurity, the games people really play- with others and with themselves. She gave a real voice to all those women singers of the 50's and 60's who couldn't sing about what their lives were really like behind the careers controlled and manipulated by men. And she made it sound sexy, alluring, and fun, though danger lurked within every line and every beat pulled the listener forward even as her words said don't follow in her wake. Hers was a truly unique voice and vision. I'm sad there isn't going to be more to come.