I Miss Amy Winehouse: a story about grief and growing up

As part of the Brixton House Housemates Festival, one artist tells a story about how grief can stay with you in her show, I Miss Amy Winehouse.

The power of Amy Winehouse could be felt throughout Suchandrika Chakrabarti’s life.

Back to Black was the soundtrack of her youth, running around Camden with her friends and the music was similar to the vinyls her parents owned, as was Winehouse’s signature beehive to her mother’s hair.

But Winehouse’s influence was present in more than just Chakrabarti’s adolescence, she first discovered her whilst flicking through music channels and then later realised just how close she felt to someone she didn’t know.

Chakrabarti praised the accessibility of Winehouse’s music, the wistfulness of Love Is a Losing Game and the melancholic, yet joyful, tune of Tears Dry On Their Own. 

She said: “That music is just timeless, it just hasn’t aged. For me, what she could do was take pain and heartbreak and make it into art.

“It makes her music so emotional, so accessible, we have all been there in at least one of her songs, we have all been one of those people.”

Although this isn’t Chakrabarti’s first show, her career in comedy and stand up only started at the beginning of the pandemic.

She hopes to turn regular stand up on its head, as well as taking us on a journey through her youth against the soundtrack of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, she will be bringing quizzes and a closeness to her audience.

Although Chakrabarti’s original intention was to turn her story into a novel, she came to a realisation that the medium of a live performance might actually be a part of the story.

She explained: “I wanted to try stand up for years but I worked in journalism and my hours were all over the place. There was never really time to commit to something like stand up, I didn’t really know how to begin.

“For me, it’s definitely important to talk about Amy and reassess how she was treated and the headlines around her.

“But also, there is no my 20s without Amy Winehouse’s music and also without being a fan of her.

“It was being really in awe of her actual genius, wondering how she did it and wishing I could do something like that myself.

“Without giving away my show, if we’re talking about grief, if we’re talking about death, which I kind of have to in my show, I’d say it’s more about the joy you find years afterwards.

“The 10th anniversary of Amy’s death last year, there was a lot of joy and people have a lot of fun talking about her even though her end was way too soon and it was very sad. There’s a bit of unfinished business around her and I think people really wanna talk about that.

“The live format is another way of dealing with grief and loss, there’s nothing more alive than a live performance.”

I Miss Amy Winehouse will be on at the Housemates Festival from 3-4 May at Brixton House. 

Featured image credit: Exhibition identity by Studio Moross

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