Five years after her death the famous soul singer Amy Winehouse has been nominated for a Brit Award, in the category of Best Solo Female. Up against Adele, many wonder whether this is a publicity stunt designed to spur headlines and boost viewer ratings. The lack of diversity in art awards has been a contentious issue, especially with the recent 2016 all-white Oscar nominations receiving widespread condemnation. With this in mind, it leads many to question the validity of posthumous awards especially when there is so few spaces for living artists, not to mention opportunities for racial minorities in the art world.
The Brit Awards is the British equivalent of the Grammy’s and yearly celebrates new pop music. It is the perfect career boost for the winners and nominees. Consequently, it is arguably unnecessarily to nominate a deceased artist as they would not gain the same career benefits as a living artist might.
Amy Winehouse jumped to fame back in 2006 with her album Back to Black and was a notable figure in her home town of Camden. Her legacy is everywhere with murals and graffiti notable throughout London. However, many fans will remember her penultimate years, with her image tainted by the paparazzi eagerly monitoring her daily struggle with drug addiction, to the tabloids delight.
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There has however, been a recent surge in revitalising Amy’s image since her death. Last year saw the release of Asif Kapadia’s documentary, Amy, which was nominated for an Oscar and provided audience never before seen footage to the singer’s life, through a compilation of her own home-made videos. It is the soundtrack from Amy, which features 23 of her most famous songs which has been nominated by the Brit Awards committee. Furthermore, this rejuvenation of the singer’s image perhaps sheds light into why she might have been nominated, acting as a reminder to fans of her legacy and lost artistic talent.
People with even slightly attuned music taste will appreciate that Amy Winehouse was and still is brilliant to listen to and a real gift and refreshment to the music industry. Perhaps, if the Brit Awards were to provide a different award in recognising posthumous artists, there would be less tension when it comes to award night and greater opportunity for undiscovered living artists to emerge.