Remembering Amy Winehouse

Singer-Songwriter Amy Winehouse – as famous for her battles with drugs and alcohol as she was for her stunning voice and her trademark blend of pop, jazz, r&b and soul – was found dead Saturday in London. She was 27.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host: Fans of singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse are mourning the loss of a singular but troubled talent today. The R and B sensation whose career was derailed by drug problems was found dead yesterday in London. She was just 27 years old. NPR's Allison Keyes reports.

ALLISON KEYES: The thing about Amy Winehouse that made people sit up and take notice wasn't just the thick black cat-eye makeup, her figure hugging outfits or the towering black beehive on her head. It was this:

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU KNOW I'M NO GOOD")

AMY WINEHOUSE: (Singing) Meet you downstairs in the bar and heard, your rolled-up sleeves and your skull t-shirt. You say what did you do with him today, and sniff me out like I was Tanqueray.

KEYES: This tiny, slender, tattooed woman opened her mouth and the giant voice of a seasoned R and B singer rolled out. The voice and music of the daughter of jazz lovers oozed with that vibe and was rooted in the sounds of '60s R and B.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TEARS DRY ON THEIR OWN")

WINEHOUSE: He walks away, the sun goes down, he takes the day but I'm grown. And in your way, in this blue shade, my tears dry on their own

ANDREW FLANAGAN: She wasn't a pop star in the strictest sense. She was writing these songs.

KEYES: Andrew Flanagan edits the music website thedailyswarm.com and writes for MTV, and says Winehouse wasn't the typical pop star with teams of producers and writers. She was a distinctive talent who wrote her own lyrics.

FLANAGAN: The reason she became so massively popular was that her, it was a modern take on soul and R and B with this fantastic voice from a pretty interesting-looking and -acting lady.

KEYES: In a 2003 BBC interview, done the year she released her first album, "Frank," Winehouse spoke her how her writing style evolved from influences ranging from James Taylor and Frank Sinatra to Sarah Vaughan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

WINEHOUSE: It's very jazz-influenced but it's got very much the new as well. It's very hip-hop, it's very beat-driven. Just everything I've kind of listened to over the past, you know, 20 years. I'm only 19.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE IS A LOSING GAME")

WINEHOUSE: (Singing) For you I was a flame. Love is a losing game...

KEYES: Amy Winehouse did try to solve her substance abuse issues and did several stints in rehab. But last month she canceled a European tour after a wobbly and incoherent performance in Serbia and her spokesman said she would be given as long as it takes to recover. Yesterday, Amy Winehouse was found dead at her home in London. Allison Keyes, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE IS A LOSING GAME")

WINEHOUSE: (Singing) And now the final frame...

WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.

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