British singer Amy Winehouse was a household name for her incredible voice. She rose to fame at only 16, spending most of her youth in the limelight.
Before becoming famous, Amy Winehouse was an ordinary London teenager. She attended both an academic and a Jewish Sunday school. Winehouse also attended a theater school and worked as a journalist. She played the guitar and sang in various groups, before releasing music that the industry purposely hid until Island records signed her and she rose to fame.
Find out more below about Amy Winehouse’s early life, and her rise to success.
Amy Winehouse was born in a north London hospital in 1983, to window panel installer and taxi driver Mitchell “Mitch” Winehouse, and pharmacist Janis Winehouse.
She was the younger of two siblings, with an older brother Alex who was 4 years her senior.
The singer grew up in Southgate, north London. She attended Osidge Primary School, along with a Hebrew Sunday school, which she reportedly did not enjoy.
Winehouse told totallyJewish.com she would “beg her father” to let her skip Sunday school, as she felt it was not beneficial to her.
Although her family was Jewish, Winehouse recalled only attending the synagogue once a year “out of respect”.
She said, “Being Jewish to me is about being together as a real family. It’s not about lighting candles and saying a Bracha.”
Winehouse’s was surrounded by jazz music, with many of her relatives, particularly maternal uncles, being professional jazz musicians.
Her grandmother from her father’s side also dated jazz legend Ronnie Scott.
Her father, Mitch, would sing jazz music to her as a child.
Mitch recalled, “When she was around two years old, and was first beginning to talk, I’d sing ‘Fly me to the…’, and I’d leave the word ‘moon’ out, and then she’d sing ‘MOON’ in the gap. She loved that song.”
On Saturdays, Amy began to attend Susi Earnshaw Theatre School in London, upon her grandmother’s request.
As a teenager, she formed the girl group Sweet ‘n Sour with her friends, but the group was short-lived.
She transferred to Sylvia Young Theatre School to pursue music full-time, after which she changed schools twice.
Winehouse would play the guitar at home while working as a show reporter for World Entertainment News Network.
After her friend sent a demo tape out in 2002, Winehouse was signed by 19 Management.
Rise To Fame
In 2002, Darcus Beese heard one of Winehouse’s tracks, and scouted around to discover her identity.
She was signed to Beese’s record company Island, but her “atypical” sound also caught the attention of rival companies.
In 2003, Winehouse released her debut album Frank with Island Records. It received generally positive reviews, and has since sold over a million copies and been certified triple platinum.
Wine later expressed unhappiness with the handling of her first album. She said, “I’ve never heard the album from start to finish. I don’t have it in my house. Well, the marketing was f*****, the promotion was terrible. Everything was in shambles.”
Winehouse tragically died of alcohol poisoning in 2011, cutting her legacy short, but she left a lasting impression in UK jazz.