This Grrrl Can Saang! It's happened. There's a white gal who really can belt soul with the best of them. In truth, it's not doing her justice, and it's small-minded to describe Amy Whitehouse as a white girl who sings bigger than that -- she's not just the next great white hype. She's got a terrifically soulful delivery, and seems comfortable with commercial R&B as well as smoky jazz. Perhaps best of all, she's a wonderfully witty, quirky and original songwriter.
Apparently, she's been quite the sensation in England for several years, but is only just about to hit here in the United States. Her albums have not been available domestically, but that's about to change, At least, her second album, Back to Black, will be released here, and she's doing a few early gigs here to catch the buzz. I suppose that comparisons to fellow Englishwoman, and white soul sensation, Joss Stone are as inevitable as they are unfortunate. This no Joss Stone, who was all hype and not much substance. Winehouse is a genuinely gifted singer, with eclectic taste and range, and she really does offer funny, very contemporary, original songs, to boot. She's not a commercial studio product -- she's the genuine article.
Today's Washington Post has a great feature on Winehouse -- focusing on her legendary drinking problem and the drastic change in her appearance during her short career. There is a photograph of this pure, clean as a whistle, healthy, beaming, incredibly beautiful, young star-in-the-making, about 3 years ago. This photo is contrasted with the a more recent photo showing a dour, underweight, heavily tattooed, burnt-out rock star, with overdone gothic makeup. Winehouse is portrayed as indulging her bad girl, crooning drunk image. The first single on her newest album is called "Rehab." In the song she proudly declares that "They're tryin' to make me to go to Rehab...I said: No, no, no!"
I won't speculate on the causes for this radical transformation, nor on the tabloid stories of her alleged bulimia and anorexia. I just hope she pulls out of whatever's going on. She's phenomenally talented. Her generation needs an original voice -- one that with a voice that can recall Aretha and Diana Ross, and Lady Day. all at once, and who performs her own material in the tradition of the great singer-songwriters of earlier days. Mostly, I'm blogging about this because I am really impressed, and discovering her has brightened up the day for me as I sit here suffering from the flu. I can't wait to hear her live.
The Post story can be found here: 100-Proof Voice. A video of "Rehab" can be seen and heard here: Rehab clip.
Tonight: Look for my report on the U.S.-Mexico Super-Classico.