The Inevitable Amy Winehouse

Perhaps the most tragic thing about the singer’s sad and untimely death is how unsurprising it was.

FALLEN STAR: Amy Winehouse, dead at 27.

Amy Winehouse emerged on the pop-music scene not so much like a rising star as like a falling one.

In “Rehab,” the hit song from her 2006 breakthrough album, Back to Black, the singer let us know upfront what we were in for if we decided to become her fans—a maddening, chaotic, troubled ride. But her soulful and honest voice, and the potential we heard there, left us no choice but to listen, appreciate, and hope against hope that she would eventually shake her well-publicized demons and rise to the brilliant promise of her talent.

But it was not to be.

The report of the British singer’s death today at 27 was not unexpected, but it still jarred us, like the earthshaking blast of thunder that trails a violent lightning flash. On Twitter and Facebook, update after update expressed a sort of resigned shock. “I knew it was a matter of time,” wrote one commenter. “I’m surprised she lasted this long,” said another.

Another popular Winehouse song found the singer declaring, “You know that I’m no good.” Like “Rehab,” it was a prophetic moment of self-disclosure that felt like both a defiant proclamation and an eerie plea for help. The lyrics — “I cheated myself, like I knew I would” — resonated with many of us who, like the apostle Paul, struggle with the reality of our sinful natures.

“I do not understand what I do,” said Paul. “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

For Amy Winehouse, the struggle was with drugs, alcohol, and bad relationships. For us, the addictions might be different, but we have felt the strain nonetheless.

There’s so much in Ms. Winehouse’s tragic story to explore. In some ways, her brief career was the most convincing anti-drug campaign to hit pop culture. Or, maybe everything that needs to be said was already said during her descent.

The initial reports said Winehouse’s cause of death was unexplained. But no explanation was really necessary.

About the author, Edward Gilbreath

Edward Gilbreath is editor of and the author of Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity.
  1. I was rooting for her to turn her life around. I feel pretty confident that she had many chances to do so from the most secular treatments to the heart-changing power of seeking Christ’s redemptive gift for her. I’m saddened that she very brazenly chose not to. I feel like she kind of robbed us of what God intended for us to enjoy through her. God’s gifts are without repentance and she had a unique gift and was surrounded by very creative people to package that gift. I will not question the lifting of God’s grace that kept her with us as long as it did. I am disappointed in the representatives of God, my spiritual family, who are saying “that’s what you get!” And I’m praying that a generation finds fair warning in what happened to her and turn from their own self-destructive ways.