In memory of a life that tragically ended far too soon, the Grammy Museum is paying homage to the extraordinary career of iconic vocalist, songwriter and fashion trendsetter Amy Winehouse. Beyond Black—The Style Of Amy Winehouse is the first-ever Winehouse exhibit in the United States. Featuring many of her favorite stage dresses, shoes, belts and accessories, the exhibit includes her halter dress worn at her final 2011 stage performance in Belgrade. Other items include—custom-made dresses by stylist Naomi Parry for Winehouse’s canceled 2011 summer festival concert tour, Winehouse's yellow preen ‘Power Dress’ and bold red leather heart-shaped Moschino purse with velvet lining used at the 2007 Brit Awards and Winehouse's 2008 Grammy Awards outfit signed by Dolce & Gabbana. The exhibit also includes handwritten lyrics, journal entries and drawings that are being publicly displayed for the first time, and never before seen home movies, as well as her Grammy Awards. Also on display are items that reflect her musical and fashion inspirations—Frank Sinatra, Shangri-Las, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Salt-N-Pepa, Nas, Beastie Boys, Lauryn Hill, En Vogue and more.
"Amy had a rebellious rock & roll style and attitude, which she made all her own with her signature beehive updo, winged eyeliner, tattoos and bold red lipstick," says Winehouse's stylist, Naomi Parry. "She had a clear vision of who she was and what she wanted the world to see. Working with Amy was one of the most satisfying and creative times in my career. I'm excited for the world to finally see the looks we created for what would have been her 2011 summer festival tour.”
The exhibition's official opening event featured a Q&A in the museum's Clive Davis Theater with Winehouse's stylist Naomi Parry and her former roommate, Catriona Gourlay. Both shared heartfelt personal reflections of their time with Winehouse on the road and at home. Moderated by LA-based journalist Eve Barlow, audience members were permitted to ask questions following the formal presentation.
Rising from obscurity to stardom by the tender age of 20, Winehouse left an indelible musical impression with her debut album release Frank (2003). Her deep reflective lyrics and her provocative voice laden with a touch of soul, jazz and rhythm and blues made her a hit in the UK. It was her follow album release, and her last, Back to Black (2006) that catapulted her to international stardom. The album, which featured her signature song “Rehab,” won five Grammy Awards, earning Winehouse the distinction of the first British woman to do so, including Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Winehouse was also the recipient of three Ivor Novello Wards from the Brittish Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors winning Best Contemporary Song for “Stronger Than Me” (2004), Best Contemporary Song for “Rehab” (2007) and Best Song Musically and Lyrically for “Love Is a Losing Game” (2008). She won the 2007 Brit Award for Best British Female Artist.
Rebellious by nature and plagued by depression, and drug and alcohol addiction, Winehouse succumbed to alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, at the age of 27. Following her passing, Back to Black went to number one for a time, and remains one of the UK’s all-time best-selling albums.
"Amy Winehouse is undoubtedly one of the most gifted singers, songwriters, and performers of the early 21st century," says the Museum's President Michael Sticka. "Amy's music and influence reached across genres and generations. It's an honor for the GRAMMY Museum to host her very first exhibit in the United States and celebrate her talents, creative process and musical legacy.”
To honor the legacy of their daughter, the Winehouse family created the Amy Winehouse Foundation whose mission is to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people, and to build their self-esteem and resilience, so that they can flourish.
Many of the items on display will be auctioned off in the fall of 2021 by Julien’s Auctions. Proceeds will benefit the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
The exhibition will run through April 13. Tickets are available at grammymuseum.org.
Photos by Rob Nagy 2020