Learn to Sing from Amy Winehouse 💜

inspiration musicianship singers Nov 24, 2021

It’s Sunday evening, and I’m mentally preparing myself for a big week ahead of studio teaching, rehearsing, and creating content for Fearless Singer and our Amy Winehouse Shows in November. Not to mention, I’m entering Week 2 of Term 4 at school.

I’m not sure whether you have seen on my socials, but Harvey and I are putting on an epic two shows to celebrate the life of Amy Winehouse. You can read more about this here.

We had another great rehearsal today. Our core band is sounding super tight, along with all of our vocals. We have a whole line-up of incredible singers performing on the nights, along with a killer horn section. It is going to be dead set AMAZING!

Anyhow, this is what has been taking up a lot of my bandwidth. I’ve been listening and reading about Amy Winehouse so much that I’m starting to dream about her.

On top of this project, I am also delivering the Fearless Singer Jazz Club – an 8-week course that will teach you a whole set of jazz songs along with online teaching sessions on style, starting on Wednesday, November 10.


So, to merge my two passion projects in this newsletter, I will dedicate this to one of the world’s greatest Jazz Singers of all time – Amy Winehouse.

Amy, Amy, Amy

Many of us only know Amy as a Soul and RnB singer, but she began her career as a jazz singer.

Her grandmother, whom she was particularly close to, encouraged her to sing jazz, and she became obsessed with Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald.

In Amy’s first album, Frank, we hear references to sophisticated jazz language.

October Song is a contrafact of Lullaby of Birdland, and in Take the Box, we can hear bits and pieces of Round Midnight.

Not to mention she does the incredibly challenging vocalese Moody’s Mood for Love and the standard There’s No Greater Love.

Her hybrid style of jazz, soul, RnB, and reggae pioneered a new sound for artists – you can hear the past and the future.

How can we borrow sounds from Amy

One of the most powerful practices we can get into as singers is to borrow sounds from great artists. Appropriating language from singers is how we learn style.

I have had some incredible singing teachers in my life. Still, my greatest lessons were listening and copying the shiz out of Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McCrae, Miles Davis, and Joni Mitchell. And now Amy Winehouse.

Some may ask, but does this mean you are not going to sound like yourself? When we borrow from artists, we mostly copy musical language and phrasing. We will always sound like ourselves, but we will be more competent in the style we are learning.

When listening to Amy Winehouse, you will notice that she still phrases like a jazz singer in her pop songs, weaving between being off the beat or in front. If you want this skill, you can learn it in the Fearless Singer Jazz Club - it’s super fun and satisfying to sing like this!

How do you practice transcribing?

When you transcribe an artist’s work, you do not need to notate it. Although this may help, if you have these skills.

You can follow this simple and rewarding process:

  1. Listen to the song on repeat: If I am transcribing a piece of music or section of it, I will listen to it in the car, while I’m cleaning, pretty much any available time I have throughout the day. I may even listen to it for a whole week before trying to copy the singer.
  2. Segment sections: It may seem counterintuitive to work on small chunks. You may think, how am I ever going to transcribe this whole thing going at a snail pace? But trust me, aim for small and slow practice and watch how rapidly you learn it. It’s a crazy paradox. So in your first practice, only copy one musical phrase (8-bars). Listen to it. Copy it. Then move on to the following section. Rinse and repeat.
  3. Are you sure you’re right? How about you record yourself singing along with the artist and listen back. Were you spot on? If not, go back and relearn the parts that were a bit shaky.
  4. Test yourself with a backing track, record yourself and listen back with a friendly, critical ear.

Anyhow, I will leave you with a playlist of songs that we will be doing in a Celebration of Amy Winehouse.

Perhaps you may feel inspired to transcribe one?

If you are interested in joining us for the Fearless Singer Jazz Club and have any questions, please hit reply.


Mel X

P.S. I have some more exciting announcements coming soon! I’m in workshopping mode, creating more exciting resources to help you on your singing journey and in your business if you have one or would like one.

P.S.S. Join me over on Instagram for singing resources and inspiration - @mellathouras.