Three days earlier than Amy Winehouse’s demise from alcohol poisoning in July 2011, her goddaughter Dionne Bromfield, a 15-year-old singer, completed college for the summer season and rushed to the Camden Roundhouse to carry out.
It was her largest gig but, her pals had been coming to look at and she or he was full of pleasure. For a younger singer dreaming of a profession in music, similar to her “Aunty Amy”, it was an enormous day.
Amy Winehouse turned up unexpectedly to assist her, their moments collectively onstage captured by somebody within the crowd, filming on a cell phone.
This is able to be the celebrity’s final public efficiency.
As I watched the grainy cell phone footage later, for me this was the stand-out second of all of the information protection round Winehouse’s demise – she’s so evidently falling aside however making an attempt so desperately to be there for her goddaughter.
Dionne Bromfield has shared her story from that night time in On Stage With Amy Winehouse, the newest episode of StoryCast ’21 – a Sky Information podcast collection telling 21 tales from the yr 2000 to 2021.
It was 10 years in the past, 23 July 2011, once I received the decision from a music PR.
It was a sunny day however I used to be sitting in a windowless newsroom, working a 12-hour shift, and the world was additionally reacting to the tragedy of the horrific terror assault in Norway the day past. It was a name I will not neglect.
Winehouse had been present in mattress at residence by a bodyguard with two empty vodka bottles by her facet, bringing to a tragic finish her very public battle with drug and alcohol dependancy. She was simply 27.
Breaking the information and witnessing the outpouring of grief that adopted felt unprecedented on the time, I keep in mind a little bit woman with beehive hair laying flowers outdoors her home in Camden Sq., alongside crowds in tears, Winehouse’s dad Mitch, and tributes from Mark Ronson and Kelly Osbourne; visibly surprised.
Overlaying superstar deaths is a part of the job as an leisure journalist, however this was no bizarre pop star; when Winehouse died, everybody had an opinion.
Folks had been devastated, her fragility so profound, and tears turned to anger and blame; tragedies resembling this could typically flip poisonous as grief combined with the highlight takes its toll.
We wished to seek out out about the actual Amy Winehouse.
We spoke to individuals who knew her, Joe Mott, Kim Dawson, Piers Hernu, her instructor Sylvia Younger, former file label bosses, her biographer Chas Newkey-Burden, and numerous critics resembling Paul Gambaccini.
However I did not name the one younger girl who knew the singer like nobody else. The Amy behind the icon. Behind the headlines. Behind the immediately recognisable beehive, eyeliner and tattoos. The “Aunty Amy”.
Dionne Bromfield, now 25, was Amy’s goddaughter and musical protégé. The one who “Amy at all times put her greatest self ahead to”.
“I sort of checked out her as a mom and an enormous sister… Aunty Amy, I imply, she beloved it once I referred to as her that.”
When Winehouse arrange her personal file label Lioness, Bromfield was her first signing. She helped her launch her first album, even becoming a member of her on Strictly Come Dancing as a backing singer to assist her launch.
“She simply had a very, actually shut bond with me from a younger age. My mum observed that, and Amy actually wished to sort of take me below her wing musically and simply on a private degree,” she tells me throughout Onstage With Amy Winehouse.
“Amy was, like, made to be an incredible mum and an incredible spouse. That was like her factor and her function for all times… She beloved to prepare dinner. She cooked meatballs on a regular basis,” Dionne laughs. “They weren’t the most effective…
“She was a very easy woman. And it is simply the whole lot round her was amplified and large and massive. So, yeah, the Amy I do know is a loving, caring, humorous and a particularly proficient particular person. All the opposite stuff is simply noise.”
On the time of Winehouse’s demise, it did not really feel proper to strategy a 15-year-old to pay tribute. However it appears a decade on, Bromfield is able to discuss her Aunty Amy. I meet her on the Jazz After Darkish membership in Soho, a favorite bolthole of Winehouse and now one thing of a shrine to her, the partitions coated in her portraits.
Bromfield notices one portray of the icon, by which she is sporting a pair of earrings she lent her throughout a purchasing journey.
“She was like ‘oh, I haven’t got any earrings and I actually like your earrings. Can I put on yours… please?’ I by no means noticed them once more. God is aware of the place they’re now.”
Strolling into the darkish membership from the intense sunshine, Bromfield is incandescent. Like many younger ladies within the music trade now, she appears switched on however refreshingly clear. In some ways the antithesis of the Amy Winehouse as painted by the paparazzi, however concurrently one way or the other strikingly comparable.
Forged your thoughts again to the Amy Winehouse who burst on to the scene in 2003, the one I keep in mind first seeing in her music video for Stronger Than Me: fantastically unpolished, sassy and mischievous. The similarities together with her goddaughter are apparent.
Bromfield says she remembers the final time she noticed her godmother, the time they shared collectively on stage, “so vividly”.
“She got here out for Mama Mentioned, which was certainly one of her favorite songs of mine, and she or he had a little bit dance, a little bit little bit of backing vocals after which walked off.”
Bromfield says it has taken a very long time to course of Winehouse’s demise. She was acting at a pageant in Wales a number of days later when the information broke.
“I keep in mind going, okay, and carried on doing what I used to be doing, it did not actually make sense in my head. It did not register. And I simply saved on getting dressed to go and do my gig. It was extra like, I actually noticed her three days earlier and she or he was so optimistic she was glowing and the whole lot. How are we going from this, to this?”
Winehouse had launched her first album, Frank, in 2003. In 2005, she met Blake Fielder-Civil, whom she married in 2007. It was a wedding, she would later admit, based mostly on taking medicine.
But in 2006 she launched her critically acclaimed second album Again To Black, which might go on to change into one of many UK’s largest promoting albums ever. It was the heartbreak of the file, lots of the songs about Fielder-Civil, which resonated.
Her a number of Grammy award wins broke information and introduced big worldwide success.
The distinction between her sultry and hanging expertise as a singing sensation and the depths of her darkness is probably what has come to outline her legacy.
On the time I keep in mind individuals described a way of inevitability in regards to the demise of Winehouse. In interviews, her father Mitch had mentioned he had feared the worst would possibly occur.
However Bromfield says there was nothing inevitable about it.
“To me, it did not really feel like one thing that was on the playing cards,” she says. “She was actually vigorous that night time. So, yeah, it was not an individual who had given up on life.”
The very fact she hadn’t given up, and nonetheless had a lot extra to offer, is probably why Amy Winehouse will proceed to be remembered.
And for Bromfield, her godmother, her musical mentor and “Aunty Amy”, will at all times be part of her future, in addition to her previous.
You possibly can take heed to On Stage With Amy Winehouse and the remainder of StoryCast ’21 by clicking right here.