Late diva's music lives on

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 January, 2012, 12:00am


This summer, the world lost a musical talent like no other. As tragic as it was, no one can truly say it was a surprise: let's be honest, Amy Winehouse's long battle with substance abuse was no secret. Addiction ultimately ended her career (many would argue well before her death) and life.

Often when a talented artist who, for one reason or other, dies young, a posthumous album containing previously unreleased songs follows. For the sultry-voiced Winehouse, who was 27 when she died, hers comes roughly five months after her death in the form of the 12-track Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, a collection of covers, reworked originals and unreleased songs.

In general, many barriers prevent or stall the release of posthumous albums. A conflict, either with the family or the label, is perhaps one of the more common problems. Fortunately Hidden Treasures faced no such obstacles: Amy's father gave his full approval for the album's release, both as a tribute to his daughter and as something worthy of bearing her name.

'It wasn't until I sat down with the rest of the family and listened to this album that I fully appreciated the breadth of Amy's talent, from jazz standards to hip hop songs, it really took my breath away,' says Mitch Winehouse.

'I'd never heard Halftime before, it is just incredibly beautiful. If the family felt this album wasn't up to the standard of Frank and Back To Black we would never have agreed to release it and we believe it will stand as a fitting tribute to Amy's musical legacy.'

Over the years, Winehouse worked with a long list of musicians and producers, among them Jay-Z, Tony Bennett, Nas, Outkast, Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson. After her untimely death, Ronson and Remi, who co-produced Back To Black, began listening to her recordings, including the unreleased ones.

They had always known the extent of Winehouse's genius, but re-listening to these tracks led them to the conclusion that these songs were special and should be heard by her many fans.

In addition, the album would serve as a tribute to the fallen songstress and their close friend. Ronson and Remi selected and compiled the tracks to form Hidden Treasures.

Some of the proceeds from the album will go towards the Amy Winehouse Foundation (which helps young people in need), launched by her father on September 14, what would have been her 28th birthday. On the same day, the Tony Bennett collaboration Body and Soul was released digitally to support the foundation's launch.

'It was a thrill to record with Amy Winehouse and when you listen to the recording of Body And Soul, it is a testament to her artistic genius and her brilliance as one of the most honest musicians I have ever known,' Bennett said at the MTV Video Music Awards this year.

As with many artists blessed with fame, temptation reared its ugly head. The singer is no longer here, but her music and legacy live on.