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Amy Jade Winehouse was born on 14 September 1983 and she is an English singer-songwriter, known for her eclectic mix of various musical genres including R&B, soul, jazz, rock & roll, and ska. Winehouse is best known for her soulful, powerful contralto vocals.
Winehouse's 2003 debut album Frank was commercially and critically successful in her native Britain, and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Her 2006 follow-up album Back to Black led to six Grammy Award nominations and five wins, tying the record for the most wins by a female artist in a single night, and made Winehouse the first British singer to win five Grammys, including three of the "Big Four": Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. On 14 February 2007, she won a BRIT Award for Best British Female Artist; she had also been nominated for Best British Album. She has won the Ivor Novello Award three times, one in 2004 for Best Contemporary Song (musically and lyrically) for "Stronger Than Me", one in 2007 for Best Contemporary Song for "Rehab", and one in 2008 for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for "Love Is a Losing Game", among other prestigious distinctions. The album was the third biggest seller of the 2000s in the United Kingdom.
Winehouse has been credited as being an influence in the rise in popularity of female musicians and soul music and revitalising British music.
Winehouse's distinctive style has been the muse for fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld. The singer's problems with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as self-destructive behaviour, have become regular tabloid news since 2007. She and her former husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, were plagued by legal troubles that left him serving prison time. In 2008, Winehouse faced a series of health complications that threatened both her career and her life.
Winehouse was born in the Southgate area of London to a Jewish family of Russian extraction on her father's side, who shared her love of jazz. She was raised in a family of four: her father Mitchell (a taxi driver), her mother Janis (a pharmacist), and her older brother Alex. Mitchell would constantly sing around the house, often singing Frank Sinatra to young Amy, who also took to a constant habit of singing to the point that teachers found it difficult keeping her quiet in class.
When Winehouse was nine years old, her grandmother, Cynthia, suggested she attend the Susi Earnshaw Theatre School for further training. At age ten, Winehouse founded a short-lived rap group called Sweet 'n' Sour with childhood friend Juliette Ashby. She stayed at the Earnshaw school for four years before seeking full time training at Sylvia Young Theatre School, but was allegedly expelled at 14 for "not applying herself" and for piercing her nose. With other children from the Sylvia Young School, she appeared in an episode of The Fast Show in 1997. She later attended the BRIT School in Selhurst, Croydon and attended Southgate School and Ashmole School.
Winehouse married on-off boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil (born August 1978), a former video production assistant. on 18 May 2007, in Miami, Florida. Fielder-Civil was a "dropout" of Bourne Grammar School, who moved to London at aged 16 from his native Lincolnshire. In a June 2007 interview, Winehouse admitted she could be violent towards him when she had been drinking.
In August 2007 Winehouse and her then husband were photographed, bloodied and bruised, in the streets of London after an alleged fight, although she contended her injuries were self-inflicted. Winehouse's parents and in-laws publicly reported their numerous concerns, citing fears that the two might commit suicide, with Fielder-Civil's father encouraging fans to boycott her music.
Blake Fielder-Civil was quoted in a British tabloid as saying he introduced Winehouse to crack cocaine and heroin. During a visit with Mitch Winehouse at the prison in July 2008, Fielder-Civil reportedly said that he and Winehouse would cut themselves to ease the pain of withdrawal.
From 21 July 2008 to 25 February 2009, Fielder-Civil was imprisoned following his guilty plea on charges of trying to pervert the course of justice as well as a charge of grievous bodily harm with intent. The incident involved a July 2007 to an assault on a pub landlord that resulted in a broken cheek. According to the prosecution the landlord accepted £200,000 as part of a deal to "effectively throw the case and not turn up". The prosecution testified that the money used to pay off the landlord belonged to Winehouse,.” but that Winehouse pulled out of a meeting with the men involved in the plot, because Winehouse had to attend an awards ceremony. Winehouse was rebuked for her behaviour several times by court officials during the legal proceedings in the matter.
Winehouse was spotted with aspiring actor Josh Bowman on holiday in St. Lucia in early January 2009, saying she was "in love again, and I don't need drugs." She commented that the "whole marriage was based on doing drugs" and that "for the time being I've just forgotten I'm even married." On 12 January, Winehouse's spokesperson confirmed that "papers have been received" for what Fielder-Civil's solicitor has said is divorce proceedings based on a claim of adultery. On 25 February, Blake Fielder-Civil was quoted as saying that he planned to continue divorce proceedings to give himself a drug-free fresh start. In March Winehouse was quoted in a magazine as saying, "I still love Blake and I want him to move into my new house with me — that was my plan all along ... I won't let him divorce me. He's the male version of me and we're perfect for each other."
Winehouse and Fielder-Civil were granted a divorce on 16 July 2009, which became final on 28 August 2009. Neither party attended the hearing or were in court to witness the event. Fielder-Civil filed for divorce earlier in 2009 on the grounds of infidelity; Winehouse did not contest the divorce. In April 2010 Winehouse was photographed holding Fielder-Civil's hands as they entered a London bar.
Winehouse's battles with substance abuse have been the subject of much media attention. In various interviews, she has admitted to having problems with self-harm, depression and eating disorders. In 2005, she went through a period of drinking, heavy drug use, violent mood swings and weight loss. People who saw her during that fall and early 2006 reported a rebound that coincided with the writing of Back to Black. Her family believes that the summer 2006 death of her grandmother, who was a stabilising influence, set off into addiction.
In August 2007, Winehouse cancelled a number of shows in the UK and Europe, citing exhaustion and ill health. She was hospitalised during this period for what was reported as an overdose of heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine and alcohol. Winehouse told a magazine that the drugs were to blame for her hospitalisation and that "I really thought that it was over for me then." Soon after, Winehouse's father commented that when he had made public statements regarding her problems, he was using the media because it seemed the only way to get through to her.
On 2 December 2007, images of the singer outside her home in the early morning hours, barefoot and wearing only a bra and jeans, appeared on the internet and in tabloid newspapers. In a statement, her spokesperson blamed paparazzi harassment for the incident. The spokesperson reported that the singer was in a physician-supervised program and was channelling her difficulties by writing a lot of music.
The British tabloid The Sun posted a video of a woman, alleged to be Winehouse, apparently smoking crack cocaine and speaking of having taken ecstasy and valium. Winehouse's father moved in with her, and Island Records, her record label, announced the abandonment of plans for an American promotion campaign on her behalf. In late January 2008, Winehouse reportedly entered a rehabilitation facility for a two week treatment program.
On 23 January 2008, the video was passed on to the Metropolitan Police, who questioned her on 5 February. To date no charges have been brought.
On 26 March 2008, Winehouse's spokesperson said she was "doing well" and denied a published report in a British tabloid that consideration was being given to having her return to rehab. Her record company reportedly believed that her recovery remained fragile.
By late April 2008, her erratic behaviour, including an allegation of assault, caused fear that her drug rehabilitation efforts have been unsuccessful, leading to efforts by Winehouse's father and manager to seek assistance in having her sectioned.
Her dishevelled appearance during and after a scheduled club night in September sparked new rumors of a relapse. Photographers were quoted as saying she appeared to have cuts on her legs and arms.
In a interview released in June 2009 Winehouse's father said the singer was in a drug replacement programme. He said she was gradually recovering but that heavy drinking was causing "slight backward steps". A documentary shot early in 2009 shows Winehouse apparently intoxicated according to a newspaper report.
Pictures published by a magazine in July 2009 upon her return to the United Kingdom from her extended stay in St. Lucia appeared to show that Winehouse had gained weight and that her complexion was improved.