“I’ve been told I was gifted with a lovely voice and I guess my dad’s to blame for that,” Amy Winehouse wrote in her application essay to the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School in London. “Although unlike my dad and his background and ancestors, I want to do something with these talents I’ve been ‘blessed’ with.”
Winehouse’s words are pasted around the room at the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s new exhibit Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait. The institute’s Assistant Curator Pierre Francois Galprin plucked sentences from her essay to highlight the artist’s ambition, hunger, and tenacity—traits not always remembered about the troubled musician.
A young Amy outside her Grandma’s flat in Southgate. Photographer unknown © The Winehouse family. Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait. On view July 23–November 1, 2015. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.
Precisely placed around the room are her things: a traditional Jewish cookbook her brother gifted, her favorite grey gingham Arrogant Cat dress, a suitcase full of family photographs, a smattering of humorous refrigerator magnets, a “terrible” guitar she shared with her brother.