Nearly two months after her shocking death, the final video and song recorded by late British soul star Amy Winehouse dropped on Wednesday (September 14), her birthday, and it shows the "Rehab" singer in fine form. The duet with jazz icon Tony Bennett on the standard "Body and Soul" premiered at 6 a.m. on MTV, VH1, MTV Hits and mtvU and will be repeated on an hourly basis throughout the morning, after which it will be available online on MTV.com.
The clip opens with Bennett taking the lead as Winehouse looks on coquettishly, often seen in soft focus as the elder statesman sings, "My heart is sad and lonely/ For you I sigh, for you dear only/ Why haven't you seen it/ I'm all for you body and soul."
And then it's Winehouse's turn, as the singer known for her often shambolic live performances is seen on her best behavior, focusing in on the lines: "I spend my days in longing/ And wondering why it's me you're wronging/ I tell you I mean it/ I'm all for you body and soul."
The video footage of the two singing together is bittersweet, with Winehouse looking healthy and alert, twirling her hair flirtatiously as she matches Bennett note for note on the standard. Wearing a short black skirt and one of the plaid sweaters from her Fred Perry fashion collection, her hair in a signature bouffant and her lids smeared with Cleopatra-style cat-eye mascara, a smiling Winehouse holds her own with Bennett and seems to enjoy the challenge of working with the icon.
After moving her arms around nervously while singing, at one point Winehouse kisses her golden necklace, then looks up and points to the ceiling.
In an interview with MTV's Buzzworthy, Bennett praised Winehouse, saying she was "someone who knows how to intuitively improvise and make it believable and sing with humanity and soul and honesty, no compromising. ... Amy had that gift. She was the only one of all of the contemporary artists that I've met through the years. ... She's the only one that was able to do it."
The song will appear on Bennett's Duets II project, which is due out on Tuesday and also features songs with Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood, Queen Latifah, Willie Nelson, John Mayer, Norah Jones, Faith Hill, Josh Groban, Aretha Franklin and Michael Bublé.
Throughout the clip, Winehouse flashes bedroom eyes at the 85-year-old crooner and patiently awaits her verses, with both singers reading their lines expertly off the sheet music. Bennett is often caught looking longingly at Winehouse, with cut-away shots finding them locking eyes and laughing between takes and sitting in the control room and listening back to the track. At the end, Bennett, stylish in a black tuxedo, holds the final note alongside Winehouse, who does a girlish curtsy before giving him a big hug.
The song and video were released on what would have been Winehouse's 28th birthday, and they coincide with the launch of the Amy Winehouse Foundation UK, which was set up following her death to benefit those struggling with drug and alcohol abuse and poverty. The mission statement of the organization is to "support charities and organisations undertaking charitable activities in both the United Kingdom and abroad who help, support, or care for young people — especially but not exclusively those who are in need by reason of ill health, disability, ﬁ financial disadvantage or addiction."
"I was in New York when I received the terrible news about Amy," said her father, Mitch, in a statement announcing the launch of the charity. "It was almost instantaneous, this feeling that we need to help people she cared about. Amy was very generous and we kept coming back to the thought of how much she loved children. It seemed appropriate that the focus of our work should be with young people, those who are vulnerable either through ill health or circumstance. Amy touched millions throughout the world and I know she will continue to, through the Foundation."
Her mother, Janis, added, "We want to give money to projects that make a direct difference. It is a source of great comfort to know that Amy would be proud of this and right behind it."
The first major donations to the Foundation will come from sales of the "Body and Soul" track.