A documentary about Amy Winehouse, who reportedly “drank herself to death” in 2011, opened over the weekend to a limited release. Called “Amy,” the film about the “hyper-talented, mega-selling, spectacularly self-destructive English Jewish singer,” wrote Marc Tracy in 2011, features archival footage of Winehouse, including never-before-heard music. And it’s getting pretty good reviews.
Winehouse’s struggles manifested in her appearance towards the end of her life. But she wasn’t always such a hot mess, noted Tablet contributor Dvora Myers in 2011:
Winehouse wasn’t always the bad girl we see warbling, drunk and off key, during live performances. She was once a freshly scrubbed Jewish teen from Northeast London. Back when she recorded her first album, Frank, at 19, she was curvier and wore her long dark hair in loose waves instead of a mammoth beehive. On that album’s cover she is smiling with a full set of teeth, wearing a pink shirt that could’ve easily been pulled from the racks of Topshop. There’s nary a tattoo in sight. True, she had been kicked out of a prestigious stage school for getting her nose pierced, but that’s hardly scaling the mountain of teenage rebellion.
In fact, in anticipation of film’s release, footage was released of a cheerful and energetic 14-year-old Winehouse singing “Happy Birthday” to her friend. Her voice sounds beautiful:
And here’s a preview for “Amy:”
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.