ABC News Radio’s Andrea Dresdale reports: She may not be with us any longer, but Amy Winehouse has one last gift for her fans: her posthumous album, “Lioness: Hidden Treasures” is in stores now. Overseen by the two producers with whom she worked most often, Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson, the disc is a mix of new tracks, outtakes, alternate versions of existing hits and interesting cover versions that Winehouse recorded during her all-too-brief career.
Remi told ABC News Radio that he really worked to make “Lioness” a cohesive project, and not some quickie cash-in, explaining, “At the end of the day, I want to continue her musical legacy, so that they have this to balance out with whatever the other conversations would be.” Those “conversations” Remi referred to — about the singer’s struggles with addiction — shouldn’t have an impact on the music she left behind, he said. “She was a genius musician. She was a total musician. People would think that she’s just a singer, a bystander in her creative career. She was the driving force.”
Winehouse’s family is 100 percent behind the album, which according to a tweet from her father Mitch Winehouse has already topped the charts in her native UK. “My heart is sad but bursting with pride,” Mitch Winehouse added, and revealed that the disc has raised more than 140 thousand pounds for the Amy Winehouse Foundation, the recently-established charity which will help troubled youth.
Remi told ABC News Radio that Winehouse’s father was truly surprised when he heard ”Lioness:” ”When I played it for him, he…sat back and he said,’You know what? I was so busy chasing [her with] ‘Amy, don’t do this…,’ “Amy, don’t do that….,’ I didn’t realize that she was that good at that young age.” Remi noted that Mitch Winehouse also said, “I didn’t realize how talented she was.”
Remi said that in addition to making her family feel better about the loss of their daughter, the album was also part of his own personal healing process — after all, he’d known Winehouse since she was 18 years old, so her death hit him particularly hard.
“As Bob Marley said, ‘When music hits you, you feel no pain,’” Remi said. “Amy had something that was so special that’s still healing me, and to this day will continue to heal me through time.” Remi also said he agrees with Adele, who has said that Winehouse paved the way for her current success. “Totally,” he agreed. “I can’t say that…Adele wouldn’t have existed, but I think that definitely…what Adele’s able to push out now, Amy’s records and her success helped open the door for that.”
Explaining what he feels was Amy’s true talent, Remi said that it was her ability to put a new, original twist on the classic standards and sixties pop sounds she loved. “You sing the standards and then you start writing your own,” he said. “You are what you eat, and she ate a lot of good music and she spit it back out that way.”
Remi said that unlike the posthumous catalogs of some late musicians, ”Lioness: Hidden Treasures” won’t be the first in an endless series of shoddy releases of sub-par Winehouse music. First, there’s simply not enough of it, since Winehouse never completed what would have been the follow-up to the Grammy-winning “Back to Black.” But there’s also the matter of quality. Remi said, “I’m concerned anything that I’m involved in is just about totally about keeping her legacy alive and keeping the quality of it above and beyond what she would have done herself.”