Amy Winehouse

Amy WinehouseAmy WinehouseIn 2000, aged sixteen, Amy was referred to NYJO by Sylvia Young, Head of the eponymous Theatre School and attended a number of Saturday morning rehearsals at The Cockpit, under the tutelage of vocal coach Annabel Williams.

Amy’s debut performance was in June of that year, at a Sunday lunchtime session at The Rayners Hotel where NYJO had a monthly residency. She was worried about not knowing the repertoire but learnt four songs on the tube ride to the gig and, as the live recording of the session demonstrates, sang them perfectly without a lead sheet or set of words.

Bill Ashton was suitably impressed: “I can honestly say, she had the best jazz voice of any young singer I had ever heard”

Amy’s dream was to sing standards – her main influences were Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan – so, later that year she joined a trio with some of the then NYJO 2 players, led by drummer Bradley Webb, and did a tour of UK jazz clubs. She also sang with Sir John Dankworth’s Big Band on a memorable radio broadcast from The Stables at Wavendon.

Subsequently Amy joined Simon Fuller’s 19 Management, who had launched the Spice Girls and who were looking for more young female singers to promote – the rest is well-documented history.

When Amy died, almost 11 years to the day from her NYJO debut, Bill Ashton opined that: “…the pop world has lost an icon – the jazz world lost a great jazz singer several years ago”.