Amy's dad has a fare swing at the lounge act
PUBLISHED: 17:37 20 October 2010
It's easy to be puzzled over the reason why Mitch Winehouse is attempting to follow in his daughter Amy's footsteps, writes Jules Cooper.
But that is exactly what Winehouse who has lived in Greenhithe for the last seven years, is doing.
Having spent his life providing fatherly, loving and often strangely public support for his daughter Amy ever since her 2006 album Back to Black brought her unlimited fame and misfortune, he is now literally taking his turn in the limelight.
This week he released a second single, Please Be Kind, from his album Rush of Love, a combination of swing and soul covers and originals. The stocky, straight-talking dad is no professional singer, so why is he starting to sing professionally now?
“The first time I sang in front of an audience was at the jazz club under Pizza Express in Dean Street,” he said. “She was singing there – I got up on stage with her and we did a number. Afterwards she said ‘you should make your own record’.
“When she was ill I just couldn’t contemplate doing anything musically. But now she has recovered I thought I would give it a go.”
Winehouse’s album has been well received for its accomplished arrangement and relaxed singing style. His version of Please Be Kind is more assertive than Sinatra’s and far faster than Ella Fitzgerald’s sultry, piano accompanied number.
Yet the 61-year-old, who has traded life behind the wheel for one behind a desk managing his daughter’s lawyers and accountants, has not let the praise go to his head.
When asked how he’d describe his style, he admitted he’s never heard Ella Fitzgerald’s version and says he doesn’t know how he’d catergorise himself.
He’s a shower-singer who has had the luck in later life to dip his toe into the late-night hot tub of lounge singing.
The charming cabbie-cum-crooner must have a lot to joke about with his old Hackney cab fraternity. He admitted: “Most of them, in their own way, – which usually means taking the pee out of me – are extremely supportive and come to watch me.”
So it’s clear that he lets this banter-friendly side of his personality shine when he performs, as he is doing in and around London, including a burlesque club that recently opened in Farringdon.
“It’s not just about the singing, I like to put on a show,” he said. “I try to connect with the audience. All of the great entertainers like Sinatra – not that I compare myself to him – had a fantastic connection with his audiences.
“They would take the time to speak with the audience, to get the mood of the crowd, and great performers are grateful that people have come to see them - they make the audience feel special.”
It’s an attractive quality, humbleness, and Winehouse has a whole boot load of it.
He added: “I’m no pro, I just grew up in a family where it was common for us to sing and dance a lot – and I don’t think that’s different to a lot of families in the 40s and 50s.
“Television was in its infancy and if you didn’t have one, you had to music to entertain you.”
Furthermore, all proceeds from the latest single go to Macmillan Nurses.It’s not the sexiest charity,” he said. “I can understand that most money gets given to Cancer Research and they do a great job. But Macmillan are on the front line and are there helping people who are suffering, as well as their families.
“My mother died four years ago from cancer, my father was killed by cancer when I was 16, and numerous family members who had it have been cared for by Macmillan in their final days. This is a way of giving something back.
“People don’t sell many singles these days, so it’s not really about the money that raises. It’s more about raising awareness of Macmillan.”
● Please Be Kind by Mitch Winehouse is now available at all major music outlets.
His album Rush of Love is available for around £7. See from his website www.mitchwinehouse.co.uk for more information, or www.macmillan.org.uk for information about Macmillan Nurses.