Monday will mark the one-year anniversary of Amy Winehouse's death. The coroner determined her untimely passing was caused by an accidental alcohol overdose and ruled her passing a "death by misadventure." Winehouse had more than five times the legal driving limit of alcohol (416 mg per deciliter of blood) in her body at the time of her death — enough to stop her respiratory system from functioning properly. The inquest found no illegal drugs in her system.
Winehouse's influence came sharply into focus in the months following her death. Some of the biggest artists in music expressed their sadness and disbelief at her passing and honored the impact her talent had on their industry. "Amy changed pop music forever. I remember knowing there was hope, and feeling not alone because of her," Lady Gaga tweeted. "She lived jazz, she lived the blues."
Adele, an artist clearly influenced by Winehouse's musical style, wrote with great love on her website about what made Winehouse such an impactful performer, saying, "Not many people have it in them to do something they love, simply because they love it. We believed every word she wrote, and it would sink in deep when she sang them. Amy paved the way for artists like me and made people excited about British music again whilst being fearlessly hilarious and blasé about the whole thing."
As with many other artists, most notably Michael Jackson, sales of Winehouse's albums and individual tracks surged following her death. With just two days of tracking by Nielsen SoundScan, her breakthrough album, Back to Black, resurfaced in the top 10 of the Billboard albums chart and her debut, Frank, also saw a sales surge. A week later, Back to Black climbed to #4.
A little over a month after her death, Winehouse was remembered by Bruno Mars at the MTV Video Music Awards with a rousing performance of one of her signature hits with Mark Ronson, "Valerie." Mars' tribute was introduced by Russell Brand, who gave an emotional remembrance of his friend, and Tony Bennett, who recorded a duet ("Body and Soul") with Winehouse just a few months before she died.
Bennett and Winehouse's "Body and Soul" was released on September 14, 2011, which would have been her 28th birthday. For fans, the clip was a bittersweet reminder that Winehouse had come a long way since the depths of her struggle with addiction in the years immediately following the success of her breakthrough album. In the video, she looked healthier and happier than she had in years as she nervously recorded the song with Bennett while sporting a short black skirt and plaid sweaters from her Fred Perry Collection fashion line.
Before her death, Winehouse designed a fall 2011/spring 2012 line for Fred Perry, and with the blessing of her family, the fashion house decided to move forward with the collection, agreeing to make a donation to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which supports charitable activities in both the U.K. and abroad that provide help, support or care for individuals in need because of ill health, disability, ﬁnancial disadvantage or addiction. Earlier this year, the foundation announced it would establish a scholarship at the performing arts high school Winehouse attended.
"As most people would know, Amy was a pupil at the Sylvia Young Theatre School. This is where her talent was recognized and nurtured," the singer's father, Mitch Winehouse, said in a statement. "The Amy Winehouse Foundation would like to give a child, who otherwise couldn't afford the same opportunity, the chance to realize their talents."
In December, the first posthumous album from Winehouse, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, debuted at #5 on the Billboard albums chart with sales of more than 114,000 copies. The album included "Like Smoke," the first of two duets with Nas. The second duet, "Cherry Wine," is included on Nas' acclaimed, recently released Life is Good. "Wine" was produced by Salaam Remi, a frequent Winehouse collaborator.
Just as "Cherry Wine" found its way online, Mitch Winehouse revealed in an interview with BBC 6 Music that fans can expect one or perhaps two more albums of never-before-released material from Winehouse. "I'm not sure that there is much more, but I'm sure that we will get at least one other album out, if not two. There are loads of covers — loads of them — but the problem is, we don't want to rip anybody off," he said. "When her fans are so precious to us, we don't want to put out dross."
Even though a year has passed since one of music's brightest talents was silenced, the thought of hearing that unmistakable, heartbreaking voice on the radio should offer some comfort to fans still missing the late Grammy winner. Amy Winehouse was a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and even though she is no longer around to thrill audiences, her music and the depths she would mine to get to the emotional core of what she was singing about will surely haunt listeners for years to come.
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