Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oh NO...another opinion post...sorry, Hoss...

I have recently discovered Amy Winehouse. I know her name's been floating around the music industry as a force to be reckoned with, judging by her recent Grammy wins.

Here's Amy's performance at this year's Grammy ceremony, thanks to the power and mystery of YouTube.

For those of you who are not quite aware of Ms. Winehouse's notoriety, her drug/alcohol use has been all over the news for a while now. She's currently in a British rehab center dealing with her addictions.

She also won five Grammy awards, including "Record of the Year" and Best New Artist.

Now, if you click on the title of today's post, hopefully you'll be whisked away to Natalie Cole's opinion on the whole matter regarding England's latest music commodity.

According to articles posted on many news sites, the message from Ms. Cole is this:

Cole, a multiple Grammy winner who helped announced Winehouse's record of the year victory at Sunday's ceremony in Los Angeles, criticized the award in an interview on People magazine's website.

"I don't think she should have won," Cole said of Winehouse, who is currently receiving treatment at a rehabilitation clinic for drug abuse.

"I think it sends a bad message to our young people who are trying to get into this business, the ones who are trying to do it right and really trying to keep themselves together," added Cole, 58.
NOW...Ms. Cole states that Amy Winehouse shouldn't have been rewarded for bad behavior. Didn't the NARAS committees do the same thing for Ms. Cole?

My favorite resource...Wikipedia...states the following about Natalie Cole...

First, Natalie Cole is also a recovering addict. She wrote a book about it entitled Angel On My Shoulder. According to Wikipedia's report of the issues in said book, the following is stated:

Cole admitted to using LSD, heroin and crack cocaine.

Cole said she began recreational drug use while attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

She also disclosed that she was arrested in Toronto, Canada for possession of heroin in 1975.

Cole continued to spiral out of control - including one incident where she refused to evacuate a burning building, and another where her young son Robert nearly drowned in the family swimming pool while she and her first husband, the late Reverend Marvin Yancy, were on a drug binge. She did eventually enter rehab in 1983.
However, Ms. Cole's Grammy pedigree report states that she won the following awards (note the years she won them, please):

1975 - Best New Artist
1975 - Best Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)"
1976 - Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for "Sophisticated Lady (She's A Different Lady)"
NOW...Ms. Cole states that Amy Winehouse shouldn't have been rewarded for bad behavior. Didn't the NARAS committees do the same thing for Ms. Cole?

To take it further...does that mean Natalie Cole should give her Grammy Awards back? After all, she was playing fast and loose with the drug thing. And she did commit a felony by being arrested for heroin possession in Canada back in 1975.

Last I heard, none of the major awards given to performers (Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tonys) have anti-drug clauses or general regulations regarding social behavior. The way I understand it, these awards ceremonies are based on performance quality. The peers vote for the best in their field. There are theories about who should win, who shouldn't win, etc. Various award winners have had personal struggles with addiction (Richard Dreyfuss, Elizabeth Taylor, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, just to name a few).

Hell, I remember one year when the Dove awards...AWARDING EXCELLENCE IN CHRISTIAN MUSIC...had a scandal when one of the multiple award winners in the early '90s admitted to impregnating one of his backup singers. There was much hoopla, especially when the Dove Awards association stated there was not a morality clause considered when awarding individuals. The scandalized party in question even offered to give back his awards (if memory serves me correctly - I wish I could remember the dude's name, though...if anyone does, note it in the comments, please...)!

But according to Natalie Cole, none of the parties mentioned deserve their awards, because "bad behavior" is rewarded.

I can see what Natalie means in a way.

Part of recovery is taking a hard look at the past and truly seeing what your addiction cost you in all facets of your life. Many times, "bad behavior" is rewarded...when you're on speed, you can crank out much more of a product. Consciousness is expanded with hallucinogens, nerves calmed by anti-anxiety drugs and tranquilizers. Therefore, the quantity of work may increase, but the quality can be compromised, and the performers in question may be incapable of enjoying the fruits of their success. Judy Garland, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin...I could go on but I don't want to make this post a litany of dead celebrities.

Let's be realistic, though...I dare say that every one of us on this planet do not deserve many of the good things in life that we receive. That's where the "there but for the grace of God go I" thing comes in.

But that's what addicts struggle with...and I know that's one thing that hits when my depression is running strong and deep. When one is abysmally low, for whatever reason, that person feels they don't deserve the good things in their life. Not even the things that are provided by the grace of God. They may put on a good show and say, "By cracky, I deserve this!" but deep down, there's always that doubt. I don't care who you are.

My opinion is this: Amy Winehouse is troubled. But she's damn good at what she does. Natalie Cole, even at the height of her addiction demons, was/is damn good at what SHE does.

Taking away an award won based on an artist's performance...and performance alone...should not be contemplated. Life's hard enough. Performers have a fissured life, forever trying to reconcile the attention they crave in the spotlight and life offstage. If they win, they win...maybe that first award can even be a springboard to recovery.