News World On This Day: British jazz and soul singer Amy Winehouse was born
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On This Day: British jazz and soul singer Amy Winehouse was born

Amy Winehouse performed at a concert in celebration of Nelson Mandela's life at Hyde Park in 2008. Photo: Getty
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Known for her deep and expressive vocals, British jazz singer Amy Winehouse was unlike any other artist in the early 2000s.

At a time when pop music was dominated by girl and boy bands like the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys, Winehouse’s nostalgic retro-soul voice offered a refreshing point of difference.

Amy Winehouse, 2007. Photo: Getty

Her remarkable life began on this day in 1983, at a hospital in north London, to Jewish immigrants.

Her affinity for jazz music came from her father Mitch, a London cab driver who often sang Frank Sinatra songs to her.

After attending several performing arts schools as a teenager, Winehouse earned herself a top spot as the featured female vocalist with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

It wasn’t long before her talent was picked up by record producers.

Her debut album Frank was released in 2003 to critical acclaim, followed by her second and final album Back to Black in 2006, which featured songs such as Valerie and Tears Dry On Their Own and Rehab.

Fans around the world fell in love with her distinctive style – not only for her powerful vocals, but also her dramatic winged eyeliner, beehive hair and tattoos.

She dressed nothing like Britney Spears, Beyonce or other popular female artists of the day – and people loved it.

In 2008, Winehouse received five Grammy Awards, winning Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single Rehab, and Best Pop Vocal Album.

Amy Winehouse performs at Lollapalooza 2007 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Getty

What followed was a rapid rise to stardom – and a worsening dependency on drugs and alcohol.

Amy Winehouse leaving court in 2009. Photo: Getty

Her tumultuous love life, erratic behaviour and drug-fuelled party antics saw Winehouse splashed on the front pages of British tabloids, often eclipsing her hard-earned musical achievements.

Tragic stories of her turning up to gigs while drunk or high on drugs damaged her reputation and set her further down a path of self-destruction.

The paparazzi was relentless, documenting her emotional distress and publishing disturbing photos of her drug-affected body in magazines and newspapers.

When 27-year-old Winehouse was found dead at her London home in 2011, the public was shocked and devastated, but perhaps unsurprised.

By then, her notorious substance abuse habits were as widely known as her music.