I just felt very sad when I saw the latest calamity from our above-mentioned singer.

I know many people will be having a laugh at her expense but it’s really not funny, it’s tragic.

Amy Winehouse is without a doubt a very talented singer and composer who has had a musical upbringing that I, and many of my students, would envy.

She was surrounded by music as a child, attending a theatrical school at the age of nine and forming her own wedding band in Melbourne at the age of ten.

At 13 she received a guitar and began to write music a year later and sing with a jazz band.

It seems that Amy was born for her career and landed in just the right place at the right time.

So why is Amy Winehouse destroying herself, her music and her career?

My guess is, besides many other issues, that she doesn’t really feel she owns what she has achieved.  It may have been a bit too easy (and I stress, this is only in reference to her career) to achieve her musical status.

Many singers I teach long for a story like Amy’s;

  1. Parents who support and encourage her talent;
  2. A friend gives a tape of her singing to an A&R person;
  3. Tape leads to her being signed to a record company and a publishing deal with EMI;
  4. Amy is allowed to co-write her songs and work with top producer Salaam Remi;
  5. Album enters the upper levels of UK charts and is nominated for BRIT award; and
  6. All before her 22nd birthday.

Amy has been offered coveted opportunities on a plate, opportunities which many of us either never get to realise or have to work very hard to get.

However, she has also had to go through her twenties in the limelight.

For me, my twenties were a very difficult time and a time when I was easily influenced.

I was introduced to alcohol and other drugs by people who I looked up to in the musical field and I too, have experienced some embarrassing moments that led to loss of opportunities in my music.

Looking back at my career, I also realise I could have done better if I had not been sidetracked by a certain amount of partying and people who did not have my best intentions at heart.

However, unlike Amy I had very limited funds and a limited lifestyle.  I had to work in the ‘everyday’ world to support myself and I had to solve problems, feel lonely at times (not surrounded by ‘yes’ people as Amy would be) and have space to work things out.

At the time, these things did not make me happy, but given the choice between my life and what Amy is suffering now, I choose my life over and over again.

Why?

Because everything I have in music, my career and my family I have worked really hard to get.

I treasure every moment at the piano singing, every gig I play (there’s nothing better than earning money from doing what you love), every student I teach and every moment I get to spend with my family.

It’s a very difficult concept to get across to young people who dream of instant fame and fortune, that this is not the key to a happy life nor success in music.  (I don’t think we need any more proof than the above video).

When it comes to your music and your career;

  • You have to make your own opportunities. ( Eg, go to auditions, start bands, look for gigs, play at parties, join a theatre group etc);
  • You need to make good choices.  (Eg, you may miss out on some opportunities by choosing not to attend some function or musical event because you don’t feel like it or want to stay home or go out with friends.)
  • Make positive connections with other musicians.  (The ones who are partying and taking drugs do not offer those connections.)
  • Don’t worry if things don’t happen straight away.  With hindsight you will understand why.  You just need to trust that if you put in the work and stick at what you love for the right reason, life will take you where you need to be in the end.

Sometimes it’s good to have limited choices and to work hard to achieve our goals because then we will feel a certain amount of ownership of our lives and we will protect what we have.

Amy Winehouse is obviously destroying her career for a number of reasons, but one of them could be because she hasn’t had to work very hard for the opportunities which have brought her success (e.g. major backing from record companies).  Yes, I think her talent is deserving of this backing, but is it a case of too much, too soon?