Amy Jade Winehouse (born 14 September 1983) is an English singer and songwriter, known for her eclectic mix of various musical genres including R&B, soul, jazz, rock & roll, and ska. Winehouse is best known for her soulful, powerful contralto vocals.
Winehouse's 2003 debut album Frank was commercially and critically successful in her native Britain. It was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Her 2006 follow-up album Back to Black led to six Grammy Award nominations and five wins, tying the record for the most wins by a female artist in a single night, and made Winehouse the first British singer to win five Grammys, including three of the "Big Four": Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. On 14 February 2007, she won a BRIT Award for Best British Female Artist; she had also been nominated for Best British Album. She has won the Ivor Novello Award three times, one in 2004 for Best Contemporary Song (musically and lyrically) for "Stronger Than Me", one in 2007 for Best Contemporary Song for "Rehab", and one in 2008 for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for "Love Is a Losing Game", among other prestigious distinctions.
Winehouse has been credited as being an influence in the rise in popularity of female musicians and soul music.
Winehouse has received media attention apart from her singing. Her distinctive style has been the muse for fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld. The singer's problems with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as self-destructive behaviour, have become regular tabloid news since 2007. She and her former husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, were plagued by legal troubles that left him serving prison time. In 2008, Winehouse faced a series of health complications that threatened both her career and her life.
Amy Winehouse was born in the Southgate area of Enfield, London to a Jewish family who shared her love of jazz music. She was raised in a family of four: her father Mitchell (a taxi driver), her mother Janis (a pharmacist), and her older brother Alex. Mitchell would constantly sing around the house, often singing Frank Sinatra to young Amy, who also took to a constant habit of singing to the point that teachers found it difficult keeping her quiet in class.
At the age of nine, her grandmother, Cynthia, suggested she attend the Susi Earnshaw Theatre School for further training. At age ten, Winehouse founded a short-lived rap group called Sweet 'n' Sour with childhood friend Juliette Ashby. She stayed at the Earnshaw school for four years before seeking full time training at Sylvia Young Theatre School, but was allegedly expelled at fourteen for "not applying herself" and for piercing her nose. With other children from the Sylvia Young School, she appeared in an episode of The Fast Show in 1997. She later attended the BRIT School in Selhurst, Croydon and attended Southgate School and Ashmole School.
After toying with her brother's guitar, Winehouse received her first guitar when she was thirteen, and began writing music a year later. She began working soon after, including as a "showbiz journalist" for the World Entertainment News Network in addition to singing with a jazz band. Her sometimes boyfriend at the time, soul singer Tyler James, sent her demo tape to an A&R person. The tape led to her signing with record label Island/Universal under Simon Fuller's company 19 Management, and to a publishing deal with EMI.
Amy Winehouse's debut album, Frank, was released on 20 October 2003. Produced mainly by Salaam Remi, many songs had jazz-influences and, apart from two covers, every song was co-written by Winehouse. The album received positive reviews with compliments over the "cool, critical gaze" in its lyrics and brought comparisons of her voice to Sarah Vaughan, Macy Gray and others.
The album entered the upper levels of the UK album chart in 2004 when it was nominated for BRIT Awards in the categories of "British Female Solo Artist" and "British Urban Act". It went on to achieve platinum sales. Later in 2004, she won the Ivor Novello songwriting Award for Best Contemporary Song, alongside Salaam Remi, with her contribution to the first single, "Stronger Than Me". The album also made the short list for the 2004 Mercury Music Prize. In the same year, she performed at the Glastonbury festival, on the Jazzworld stage, and at the V Festival.
After the release of the album, Winehouse commented that she was "only 80 percent behind album" because of the inclusion by her record label of certain songs and mixes she disliked. Upon the release of her second album, she stated "I can?t even listen to Frank any more ? in fact, I?ve never been able to. I like playing the tracks live because that?s different, but listening to them is another story." She later clarified this, saying: "I listen to it differently now. I am still really proud of it, I still think it's a great album. But, with hindsight, there are some things I would have done differently... Just because I would do things a bit differently now doesn't mean I don't like what's on that album."
In contrast to her jazz-influenced former album, Winehouse's focus shifted to the girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s. In an interview, Winehouse explained, "After Frank I didn?t write for 18 months but when I met Mark I pretty much wrote the album in six months ? he was so inspiring." Winehouse hired New York singer Sharon Jones's longtime band, the Dap-Kings to back her up in the studio and on tour. In May 2006, Winehouse's demonstration tracks such as "You Know I'm No Good" and "Rehab" appeared on Mark Ronson's New York radio show on East Village Radio. These were some of the first new songs played on the radio after the release of "Pumps" and both were slated to appear on her second album. The 11-track album was produced entirely by Salaam Remi and Ronson, with the production credits being split between them. Promotion of Back to Black soon began, and in early October 2006, Winehouse's official website was re-launched with a new layout and clips of previously unreleased songs.
Back to Black was released in the UK on 30 October 2006. It went to number one on the UK Albums Chart numerous times, and entered at number seven on the Billboard 200 in the United States. By 25 October, the album was approaching 5x platinum in the UK, making it the best-selling album of 2007.
The album spawned a number of singles. The first single released from the album on 23 October 2006 was the Ronson-produced "Rehab". The song was a number-seven single in the UK, "Rehab" peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of 21 June, shortly after a performance of it on the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. Time magazine named "Rehab" one of the 10 Best Songs of 2007, ranking it at number one. Writer Josh Tyrangiel praised Winehouse for her confidence, opining, "What she is mouthy, funny, sultry, and quite possibly crazy" and, "It's impossible not to be seduced by her originality. Combine it with production by Mark Ronson that references four decades worth of soul music without once ripping it off, and you've got the best song of 2007." Also in 2007 Jay Z remixed the song by adding new verses.
The album's second single, "You Know I'm No Good" was released on 8 January 2007 with a remix featuring rap vocals by Ghostface Killah. It ultimately reached number 18 on the UK singles chart. Back to Black was released in the United States in March 2007, with "You Know I'm No Good" as its lead single. The title track, "Back to Black", was released in the UK on 30 April 2007 and peaked at number 25. A deluxe edition of Back to Black was also released on 5 November 2007 in the UK. The bonus disc features B-sides, rare, and live tracks, as well as "Valerie". Winehouse's debut DVD I Told You I Was Trouble: Live in London was released the same day in the U.K. and 13 November in the U.S. It includes a live set recorded at London's Shepherds Bush Empire and a 50-minute documentary charting the singer's career over the previous four years. On 10 December 2007, the final single from Back to Black, "Love Is a Losing Game", was released in the United Kingdom and U.S.
Frank was released in the United States on 20 November 2007 to positive reviews. The album debuted at number 61 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Winehouse's tour, however, did not go as well. In November 2007, the opening night of a 17-date tour was marred by booing and walkouts at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. A music critic for the Birmingham Mail newspaper said it was "one of the saddest nights of my life...I saw a supremely talented artist reduced to tears, stumbling around the stage and, unforgivably, swearing at the audience." Other concerts ended similarly, until she announced on 27 November 2007, that her performances and public appearances were cancelled for the remainder of 2007, citing doctor advice to take a complete rest. A statement issued by concert promoter Live Nation blamed "the rigours involved in touring and the intense emotional strain that Amy has been under in recent weeks" for the decision.
In addition to her own album, she has collaborated with other artists on singles. Winehouse was a vocalist on the song "Valerie" on Ronson's solo album Version. The song peaked at number two in the UK, upon its October single release. The song was nominated for a 2008 Brit Award for "Best British Single". Her work with ex-Sugababe Mutya Buena, "B Boy Baby," was released on 17 December 2007. It served as the fourth single from Buena's solo debut album Real Girl.
By year's end, Winehouse had garnered numerous accolades and awards. The singer won 2008 Grammy Awards in the categories of Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single "Rehab", while her album Back to Black was nominated for Album of the Year and won the Record of the Year award. Producer Mark Ronson's work with her won the award in the Producer of the Year Non-Classical category. The singer also earned a Grammy in the 'Best New Artist' category. This earned Winehouse an entry in the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Grammy Awards won by a British Female Act. She performed "You Know I?m No Good" and "Rehab" at the awards ceremony on 10 February 2008 via satellite, as her visa approval came through too late for her to travel to the U.S. She said "This is for London because Camden town is burning down," in reference to the Camden Market fire. The nominations, announced in early December, led to a 48 percent increase in the sales of Back to Black in the United States. Post Grammy Awards, album sales increased by 368 percent over the prior week, to the number 2 position in the United States.
On 13 January 2008, Back to Black held the number one position on the Billboard Pan European charts for the third straight week. In January 2008, Universal Music International said it believed that there was a correlation between number of albums sold and the extensive media coverage the singer had received.
On 20 February 2008, Winehouse performed at the 2008 BRIT Awards, performing "Valerie" with Mark Ronson, followed by "Love Is a Losing Game". She urged the crowd to "make some noise for my Blake."
A special deluxe edition of "Back to Black" topped the UK album charts on 2 March 2008. The original edition of the album resided at the number 30 position, in its 68th week on the charts, while "Frank" charted at number 35. By 12 March, the album had sold a total of 2,467,575 copies, 318,350 of those in the previous 10 weeks, putting the album on the UK's top 10 best-selling albums of the 21st century for the first time. On 7 April, "Back to Black" was residing at the top position on the pan-European charts for the sixth consecutive and thirteenth aggregate week.
In Paris, she performed what was described as a "well-executed 40 minute" set at the opening of a Fendi boutique.
Back to Black was the world's seventh biggest selling album for 2008. These sales helped keep Universal Music's recorded music division from dropping to levels experienced by the overall music market.
At the 2008 Ivor Novello Awards, Winehouse became the first artist to receive two nominations for the top award, best song, musically and lyrically. She won the award for "Love Is a Losing Game" and was nominated for "You Know I'm No Good". "Rehab", a Novello winner for best contemporary song in 2006, also received a 2008 nomination for bestselling British song. Winehouse was nominated for a MTV Europe Award in the Act of The Year category.
Amy Winehouse - The Girl Done Good: A Documentary Review a 78 minute DVD was released on 14 April 2008. The documentary features interviews with those who knew her at a young age, helped her gain success, jazz music experts, as well as music and pop culture specialists.
Winehouse's "Valerie" is on a three disc 60 song compilation album entitled Now That's What I Call Music 25 Years, released in October 2008.
A clip of Winehouse's music is included in the "Roots and Influences" area that looks at connections between different artists at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC, which opened in December 2008. One thread starts with Billie Holiday continues with Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige and finishes with Winehouse.
In a poll of United States residents conducted for VisitBritain by Harris Interactive that was released in March 2009, one fifth of those polled indicated they had listened to Winehouse's music during the previous year.
According to a newspaper report Universal Music pressed her regarding new material in 2008. According to that same report Winehouse as of 2 September had not been near a recording studio. It was noted that she had touring obligations during the summer and also that if an album was quickly recorded, it would be at least a year before an album could be released. In late October, Winehouse's spokesperson was quoted as saying that Winehouse has not been given a deadline to complete her third album, for which she is learning to play drums.
Winehouse was asked to participate in the forthcoming tribute album for Quincy Jones. but in May 2009 Mark Ronson was quoted in a British tabloid as saying Winehouse was dropped from the project because the track she was to contribute to the album was not finished and Winehouse was "not around".
During her 2009 stay in St. Lucia Winehouse worked on new music with producer Salaam Remi. According to a July 2009 magazine report Winehouse was to showcase the new music to members of her band in the United Kingdom later that month.
British singer Adele has credited the success Winehouse has had in the United States for making her and fellow British singer Duffy's journey to the United States "a bit smoother". American singer Lady GaGa credited Winehouse with paving the way for her rise to the top of the charts. She appeared to be using a metaphorical analogy to explain that Winehouse made it easier for offbeat women to have mainstream pop success.
The "Winehouse phenomenon" has been credited by Sebastian Danchin author of Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Soul of kick starting a revival of soul music that has been ongoing since 2000. Danchin quoting Raphael Saadiq, Anthony Hamilton, and John Legend said "Amy Winehouse was produced by people who wanted to create a marketing coup. The positive side is that it reacquainted an audience with this music and played an introductory role for others. This reinvigorated the genre by overcoming the vintage aspect".
The release of Back to Black and the emergence of Lily Allen has been credited by The Sunday Times as directly creating the market for the media proclaimed "the year of the women" in 2009 which has seen five female artists nominated for the Mercury Prize. After the album was released record companies sought out female artists with a similar sound and fearless and experimental female musicians in general. Adele and Duffy were the second wave of artists with a similar sound to Winehouse. The third wave consists of VV Brown and Pixie Lott. A fourth wave of female female musicians that has emerged since the album was released are led by Florence and the Machine, La Roux and Little Boots.
Winehouse toured in conjunction with the Back to Black album's release. She performed headlining gigs in September and November 2006, including one of the Little Noise Sessions charity concerts at the Union Chapel, Islington. On 31 December 2006, Winehouse appeared on Jools Holland's Annual Hootenanny and performed a cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" along with Paul Weller and Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. She also performed Toots & the Maytals' "Monkey Man". She began a run of another fourteen gigs beginning in February 2007. At his request Bruce Willis introduced Winehouse before her performance of "Rehab" at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. Winehouse made awards organizers nervous when she went on a Las Vegas jaunt in the hours before the show. During the summer of 2007, Winehouse performed at various festivals, including UK's Glastonbury Festival, Chicago's Lollapalooza festival, Rock Werchter and Baltimore's Virgin Music Festival. Amid controversy surrounding her health, drug use, and her then husband, in October 2007, she cancelled her tour dates for the remainder of the year.
Although her father, manager and various members of her touring team reportedly tried to dissuade her, Winehouse performed at the Rock in Rio Lisboa festival in Lisbon, Portugal in May 2008. Although the set was plagued by a late arrival and problems with her voice, the crowd warmed to her. In addition to her own material she performed two Specials covers.
Winehouse performed at Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday Party concert at London's Hyde Park on the 27 June, and the next day at the Glastonbury Festival. On 12 July at the Oxegen Festival she performed a well received 50 minute set which was followed the next day by a 14 song set a T in the Park. On 16 August she played at the Staffordshire leg of the V Festival the following day played the Chelmsford leg of the festival. Organizers said that Winehouse attracted the biggest crowds of the festival. Audience reaction was reported as mixed. On 6 September she was the headliner at the Bestival festival. She performed what was described as a polished set which ended with her storming off the stage. Her hour late arrival caused her set to be cut off at the halfway point due to a curfew.
In May 2009 Winehouse returned to performing at a Jazz festival in St. Lucia amid torrential downpours and technical difficulties. During her hour long set it was reported she was unsteady on her feet and had trouble remembering lyrics. She apologized to the crowd for being "bored" and ended her set by walking off the stage in the middle of a song.
To a cheering crowd on 23 August at the V festival Winehouse sang with the The Specials on their songs You're Wondering Now and Ghost Town.
On 10 July 2008, Winehouse launched her own club night, Snakehips at the Monarch, in the Camden Monarch venue in London. Although billed as a DJ battle between her and another DJ, she stayed behind the decks swaying as another person actually played 1960s music. She appeared at another Snakeships event at the Monarch on the night of 11 September. After reportedly arriving two hours late she spun music and played a short acoustic set.
Winehouse married on-off boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil, born August 1978, a former video production assistant. on 18 May 2007, in Miami, Florida . Fielder-Civil was a "grammar school dropout" who moved to London at aged 16 from his native Lincolnshire. In a June 2007 interview, Winehouse admitted she could be violent towards Fielder-Civil when she had been drinking.
In August 2007 Winehouse and her then husband were photographed, bloodied and bruised, in the streets of London after an alleged fight, although she contended her injuries were self-inflicted. Winehouse's parents and in-laws publicly reported their numerous concerns, citing fears that the two might commit suicide, with Fielder-Civil's father encouraging fans to boycott her music.
Blake Fielder-Civil was quoted in a British tabloid as saying he introduced crack cocaine and heroin to Winehouse." During a visit with Mitch Winehouse at the prison in July 2008, Fielder-Civil reportedly said that he and Winehouse would cut themselves to ease the pain of withdrawal.
From 21 July 2008, to 25 February 2009 Fielder-Civil was imprisoned following his guilty plea on charges of trying to pervert the course of justice as well as a charge of grievous bodily harm with intent. The incident involved a July 2007 to an assault on a pub landlord that resulted in a broken cheek. According to the prosecution the landlord accepted ?200,000 as part of a deal to "effectively throw the case and not turn up". The prosecution testified that the money used to pay off the landlord belonged to Winehouse,.? but that Winehouse pulled out of a meeting with the men involved in the plot, because Winehouse had to attend an awards ceremony. Winehouse was rebuked for her behaviour several times by court officials during the legal proceedings in the matter.
Winehouse was spotted with aspiring actor Josh Bowman on holiday in St. Lucia in early January 2009, saying she was "in love again, and I don't need drugs." She commented that the "whole marriage was based on doing drugs" and that "for the time being I've just forgotten I'm even married." On 12 January, Winehouse's spokesperson confirmed that "papers have been received" for what Fielder-Civil's solicitor has said is divorce proceedings based on a claim of adultery. On 25 February Blake Fielder-Civil was quoted as saying that he plans to continue divorce proceedings in order to give himself a drug-free fresh start. In March Winehouse was quoted in a magazine as saying "I still love Blake and I want him to move into my new house with me ? that was my plan all along ... I won't let him divorce me. He's the male version of me and we're perfect for each other."
Winehouse and Fielder-Civil were granted a divorce on 16 July 2009, which became final on 28 August 2009. Neither party attended the hearing or were in court to witness the event. Fielder-Civil filed for divorce earlier in 2009 on the grounds of infidelity; Winehouse did not contest the divorce.
Winehouse's battles with substance abuse have been the subject of much media attention. In various interviews, she has admitted to having problems with self-harm, depression and eating disorders. In 2005, she went through a period of drinking, heavy drug use, violent mood swings and weight loss. People who saw her during that fall and early 2006 reported a rebound that coincided with the writing of Back to Black. Her family believes that the summer 2006 death of her grandmother, who was a stabilizing influence, set off a free fall into addiction.
In August 2007, Winehouse cancelled a number of shows in the UK and Europe, citing exhaustion and ill health. She was hospitalized during this period for what was reported as an overdose of heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine and alcohol. Winehouse told a magazine that the drugs were to blame for her hospitalization and that "I really thought that it was over for me then." Soon after, Winehouse's father commented that when he had made public statements regarding her problems, he was using the media because it seemed the only way to get through to her.
On 2 December 2007, images of the singer outside her home in the early morning hours, barefoot and wearing only a bra and jeans, appeared on the internet and in tabloid newspapers. In a statement, her spokesperson blamed paparazzi harassment for the incident. The spokesperson reported that the singer was in a physician-supervised program and was channelling her difficulties by writing a lot of music.
The British tabloid The Sun posted a video of a woman, alleged to be Winehouse, apparently smoking crack cocaine and speaking of having taken ecstasy and valium. Winehouse's father moved in with her, and Island Records, her record label, announced the abandonment of plans for an American promotion campaign on her behalf. In late January 2008, Winehouse reportedly entered a rehabilitation facility for a two week treatment program.
On 23 January 2008, the video was passed on to Scotland Yard, Metropolitan Police, who questioned her on 5 February. To date no charges have been brought.
On 26 March 2008, Winehouse's spokesperson said she was "doing well" and denied a published report in a British tabloid that consideration was being given to having her return to rehab. Her record company reportedly believed that her recovery remained fragile.
By late April 2008, her erratic behaviour, including an allegation of assault, caused fear that her drug rehabilitation efforts have been unsuccessful, leading to efforts by Winehouse's father and manager to seek assistance in having her sectioned.
Her disheveled appearance during and after a scheduled club night in September sparked new fears. Photographers were quoted as saying she appeared to have cuts on her legs and arms.
In a interview released in June 2009 Winehouse's father said the singer was in a drug replacement programme. He said she was gradually recovering but that heavy alcohol use was causing "slight backward steps". A documentary shot early in 2009 shows Winehouse apparently intoxicated according to a newspaper report.
Pictures published by a magazine in July 2009 upon her return to the United Kingdom from her extended stay in St. Lucia appeared to show that Winehouse had gained weight and that her complexion was improved.
On 23 June 2008, Winehouse's publicist corrected earlier misstatements by Mitch Winehouse that his daughter has a small amount of emphysema, instead claiming she has signs of what could lead to early-stage emphysema. Mitch Winehouse had also stated that his daughter's lungs are operating at 70 percent capacity and that she had an irregular heartbeat. Mr. Winehouse said these problems were caused by her chain cigarette smoking and crack cocaine use. The singer?s father also reported that doctors have warned Winehouse that continued smoking of crack cocaine will result in her having to wear an oxygen mask and will be fatal. In a radio interview, Mitch Winehouse said the singer is responding "fabulously" to treatment which includes being covered with nicotine patches. British Lung Foundation spokesperson Dr. Keith Prowse noted this type of condition can be managed with treatment. Prowse also said the condition is not normal for a person her age but "heavy smoking and inhaling other substances like drugs can age the lungs prematurely". Dr. Norman H. Edelman, Chief Medical Officer for the American Lung Association explained that if she stopped smoking her lung functions would decline at the rate of a normal person but continued smoking would lead to a more rapid decline in lung function. Photographs of the singer with a cigarette in her mouth, taken 23 June 2008, were widely published. Winehouse was released from The London Clinic 24 hours after returning from a temporary leave in order to perform at the Mandela 90th birthday and Glastonbury concerts, and is now being treated as an outpatient. On 23 July Winehouse stated that she had been diagnosed with "some areas of emphysema" and said she is getting herself together by "eating loads of healthy food, sleeping loads, playing my guitar, making music and writing letters to my husband every day".
Winehouse began precautionary testing on her lungs and chest on 25 October 2008, at The London Clinic for what has been reported as a chest infection. Winehouse who has been in and out of the facility has been granted permission to set her own schedule regarding home leave. She returned to the hospital on 23 November 2008 for a reported reaction to her medication.
Winehouse settled a claim for copyright infringement over the song "He Can Only Hold Her", brought against her by songwriter and producer P-Nut in September 2007. His lawyer stated that the songwriter would receive a share of the royalties from the song and payment of costs. Previously he had received a "thank you" for his contribution but no songwriter credit on the album.
In October 2007, Winehouse and her ex husband were arrested in Bergen, Norway for possession of seven grams of marijuana. The couple were later released and fined 3850 kroner (around ?350). Winehouse first appealed the fines claiming she was "duped" into confessing, but later dropped the appeal.
On 26 April 2008, Winehouse was cautioned after she admitted to police she slapped a man in the face: a "common assault" offense. The incident, for which she has apologised, will stay on her record and could be used against her if she is charged with a similar offence at a future time. She voluntarily turned herself in and was held overnight. Police said, at her arrival she was "in no fit state" to be interviewed.
Winehouse was arrested on 7 May 2008 on suspicion of possessing drugs after a video of her apparently smoking crack cocaine was passed to Scotland Yard in January, but was released on bail a few hours later because they could not confirm, from the video, what she was smoking. The Crown Prosecution Service considered charging her with possessing a controlled drug and allowing her premises to be used for the supply by others of a controlled drug, but she was cleared when the service could not establish that the substance in the video was a controlled drug. In reaction to the decision, former Scotland Yard commander John O?Connor said it is an "absolute scandal that nothing could be done" about Winehouse "cooking a snook at the law". Some Members of Parliament also reacted negatively. Two London residents were subsequently charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and ecstasy to Winehouse. One of the pair was sentenced to two years in prison on 13 December 2008, while the other received a two year community order.
On 29 January 2009, Winehouse's home was burgled while she was away on holiday resulting in the loss of several guitars, recording equipment and a flat screen television according to her spokesperson. Metropolitan Police said some of the electronic equipment taken has been recovered.
On 5 March 2009, Winehouse was arrested and charged with common assault following a claim by a woman that Winehouse hit her in the eye at a September 2008 Prince's Trust charity ball. Winehouse's spokesperson announced the singer has cancelled a scheduled United States Coachella Festival appearance in "light of current legal issues". Swearing in under her legal name of Amy Jade Civil, Winehouse appeared in court on 17 March to enter her plea of not guilty . On 23 July her assault trail began with prosecutor Lyall Thompson charging that Winehouse acted with "deliberate and unjustifiable violence" while appearing to be under the influence of alcohol or another substance. The women Sharene Flash testified that Winehouse "punched me forcefully in my right eye. She used a fist, her right one. I started crying with shock. I couldn?t open my eye for a while.? Winehouse testified that she did not punch Flash, but tried to push Flash away from her because she was scared of Flash. Winehouse cited her worry that Flash would sell her story to a tabloid, Flash's height advantage, and Flash's "rude" behavior as reasons for her fear of Flash. On the 24 July District Judge Timothy Workman ruled that Winehouse was not guilty of the charge. Workman cited the facts that all but two of the witnesses were intoxicated at the time of the incident and that medical evidence did not show "the sort of injury that often occurs when there is a forceful punch to the eye".
Over the last several years there have been almost daily paparazzi published photographs of Winehouse. The singer has obtained an injunction against them under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The court order bans a leading paparazzi agency from following her. Photographers are also banned from following her within 100 meters of her home and photographing Winehouse in her home or the home of her friends and family. According to a newspaper report sources close to the singer said legal action was taken out of concern for the safety of Winehouse and those close to her.
Winehouse joined a campaign to stop a block of flats being built beside the George Tavern, a famous London East End music venue. Campaign supporters feared the residential development would end the spot's lucrative sideline as a film and photo location, on which it relies to survive.
As part of a breast cancer awareness campaign Winehouse appeared in a revealing photograph for the April 2008 issue of Easy Living magazine.
Winehouse had an estimated ?10m fortune, tying her for tenth place in the 2008 Sunday Times listing of the wealth of musicians under age thirty. The following year her fortune had dropped to an estimated ?5m. It was reported she earned about ?1m singing at two private parties during Paris Fashion Week. as well as another ?1m to perform at a Moscow Art Gallery for Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
Winehouse has loaned a vintage dress used in her video for Tears Dry on My Own as well as a DVD to the British Music Experience, a new museum dedicated to the history of British Pop. The museum, located in the O2 Centre opened on 9 March 2009.
In January 2009 Winehouse announced that she is launching her own record label. The first act on the label entitled Lioness Records is Winehouse's 13 year old goddaughter Dionne Bromfield. Bromfield is schedualed to release her first album which features covers of classic soul records on 12 October.
In a May 2009 interview the minister for tourism for the Caribbean island nation of St.Lucia said Winehouse had "been reaching out to the kids, the communities" while she was living there earlier in 2009.
Winehouse and her family are the subject of a documentary shot by Daphne Barak tentatively entitled Saving Amy that will be released later in 2009.
Winehouse plans to work with a number of music-based projects for youth in St. Lucia.
It was announced in June 2009 that Winehouse in a joint venture with EMI is launching a range of wrapping paper and gift cards containing song lyrics from her album Back to Black.
Winehouse performed with Rhythms del Mundo on their song Cupid for an "Artists Project Earth" benefit album that was released on 13 July, 2009
Winehouse's dichotomous public image of critical and commercial success versus personal turmoil has proven to be controversial. The New Statesman magazine called Winehouse "a filthy-mouthed, down-to-earth diva," while Newsweek magazine called her "a perfect storm of sex kitten, raw talent and poor impulse control." Karen Heller with The Philadelphia Inquirer summarized the maelstrom this way:
She's only 24 with six Grammy nods, crashing headfirst into success and despair, with a codependent husband in jail, exhibitionist parents with questionable judgement, and the paparazzi documenting her emotional and physical distress. Meanwhile, a haute designer (Karl Lagerfeld) appropriates her dishevelled style and eating issues to market to the elite while proclaiming her the new Bardot.
By 2008, her continued drug problems threatened her career. Even as Nick Gatfield, the president of Island Records, toyed with the idea of releasing Winehouse "to deal with her problems", he remarked on her talent, saying, "It?s a reflection of her status that when you flick through the TV coverage it?s her image they use." Post-Grammys, some questioned whether Winehouse should have been honored with the awards given her recent personal and drug problems, including Natalie Cole, who introduced Winehouse at the ceremony. Cole (who battled her own substance-abuse problems while winning a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1975) remarked, "I think the girl is talented, gifted, but it's not right for her to be able to have her cake and eat it too. She needs to get herself together."
In an opinion newspaper commentary, Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said that the alleged drug habits of Winehouse and other celebrities sends a bad message "to others who are vulnerable to addiction" and undermines the efforts of other celebrities trying to raise awareness of problems in Africa, now that more cocaine used in Europe passes through Africa. Winehouse's spokesperson called Costa a "ludicrous man" and noted that "Amy has never given a quote about drugs or flaunted it in any way. She's had some problems and is trying to get better. The U.N. should get its own house in order." Graeme Pearson, the former head of Scotland's drug enforcement agency, criticised Winehouse and Kate Moss for making going to rehab a badge of honour, thus giving the false impression that quitting drugs is easy, because many can not afford to go to clinics.
Winehouse has become a staple in popularity polls. The 2008 NME Awards nominated Winehouse in the categories of "Villain of the Year", "Best Solo Artist", and "Best Music DVD"; Winehouse won for "Worst Dressed Performer". In its third annual list, Glamour magazine named Winehouse the third worst dressed British Woman. Winehouse was ranked number two on Richard Blackwell's 48th annual "Ten Worst Dressed Women" list, behind Victoria Beckham. In an April 2008 poll conducted by Sky News, Winehouse was named the second greatest "ultimate heroine" by the UK population at large, topping the voting for that category of those polled under 25 years old. Psychologist Donna Dawson commented that the results demonstrate women like Winehouse who have "a certain sense of vulnerability or have had to fight against some adversity in their lives? receive recognition. Winehouse was voted the second most hated personality in the United Kingdom in a poll conducted one month later by Marketing magazine.
June 2008 brought a report that Winehouse, singing a disparaging chant about blacks, the disabled, and homosexuals, and containing racial epithets about Pakistanis and Indians, was taped by her former husband Fielder-Civil, despite assurances to her that he was not filming. Winehouse denied allegations that she was a racist, saying "I don't want to play anything down, but I'm the least racist person going." Winehouse added that the film was taken during "really, really happy times."
Speaking at a discussion entitled Winehouse or White House?: Do we go too big on showbiz news? Jeff Zycinski, head of BBC Radio Scotland, said the BBC and media in general were complicit in the destruction of celebrities like Winehouse. He said that public interest in the singer's lifestyle does not make her lifestyle newsworthy. Rod McKenzie editor of the BBC Radio One program Newsbeat replied that "If you play music to a certain demographic, those same people want to know what's happening in her private life. If you don't cover it, you're insulting young licence fee payers."
British singer and songwriter Lily Allen was quoted in a Scottish newspaper as saying "I know Amy Winehouse very well. And she is very different to what people portray her as being. Yes, she does get out of her mind on drugs sometimes, but she is also a very clever, intelligent, witty, funny person who can hold it together. You just don't see that side".
London's Mall Galleries opened an exhibit in May 2008 that includes a sculpture of Winehouse, entitled Excess. The piece has the singer sitting on top of a smashed champagne bottle, a pool of liquid beneath her feet. The body is covered with what appeared to be tiny pills, while one outstretched hand holds a wine glass.
A wax sculpture of Winehouse went on display at the London Madame Tussauds on 23 July 2008. The singer did not attend the unveiling, although her parents did.
A sculpture by Marco Perego, entitled "The Only Good Rock Star Is a Dead Rock Star", that depicts Winehouse lying in a pool of blood with a bullet hole in her head after being shot by American novelist and beat poet William S. Burroughs, was scheduled to go on display in New York?s Half Gallery on 14 November 2008. The sale price for the sculpture is listed at USD$100,000. Perego said of the sculpture "Rock stars are the sacrificial animals of society." Winehouse?s spokesperson said "It?s a funny kind of tribute. The artist seems in thrall to a tabloid persona that is not the real Amy. People often use her image to sell their work".