I have always loved soul music. My father is from Detroit, and I was raised on Motown and Stax records.
So when Amy Winehouse released “Back to Black,” and I heard her voice, it was like connecting with an old friend. She had a depth and emotion in her vocal range that seemed impossible for someone so young. Someone who wasn’t cutting one-take records in Memphis in the ‘60s.
That range – and the sense of a young, raw girl wrestling with fame – is on clear display in Asif Kapadia’s new documentary, “Amy.” As is how quickly the music business, and her fame, starts to wear on her.
Talking to Kapadia this week, I was struck by his determination to make Winehouse’s legacy in this film something intimate and human. Much has been written about her addictions, and in the movie it’s hard not to want to reach through the screen and save her, but Kapadia focuses just as much on her sweetness, humor and talent.
Indeed, as you’ll hear in the interview, he disagreed pretty strongly with me when I brought up other musicians who’ve died at the age of 27. But he didn’t shy away from a harsh critique of the music business and the what it can do to young people.
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