Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Bet you didn't know Amy Winehouse made some mean meatballs. Chicken soup? Not so much. This, according to her big brother Alex, who lends his voice, memories and Amy's things to the exhibition Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait. It makes its US debut tomorrow at the Contemporary Jewish Museum.
Unlike the documentary film Amy that traces the British singer-slash-songwriter's rise to super-duper stardom and heartbreaking fall and death, A Family Portrait provides an intimate look at the life of this "little Jewish kid from north London with a big a talent, who, more than anything, just wanted to be true to her heritage," as her brother puts it.
Thanks to the cooperation of the Jewish Museum London and the Winehouse family, visitors get to discover her family roots, childhood, passion for music and love of all things vintage through photographs, video and personal belongings, (clothing, books, fridge magnets, LP records, her favorite guitar, etc.). You can also get up close to Amy's (sixth) Grammy, the one she was awarded posthumously in 2012 for her duet with Tony Bennett. Wowza!
While all of Amy's things are fascinating, it's through Alex's commentary about said stuff that much is revealed. For example, in the text next to her copy of "The Book of Jewish Food," we learn that the tome was a gift from Alex himself; his sister wanted to learn how to make chicken soup. Also quelle surprise is the fact that Ms. Winehouse was supposed to be a New Yorker. In the display copy underneath the grand family tree, Alex shares this: Harris Winehouse left Minsk, Belarus in 1890 with the Big Apple in his sights—somehow he landed in London. "120 years later, we're still here, and still proud of our roots," says Alex.
Certainly, though, the most poignant words come from Amy herself via a copy of an essay she wrote at age 13 in order to get in to the Sylvia Young Theatre School. Quotes from the essay are blown up and featured around the exhibition.
Also worthy of note: In a nook around the corner from the main show is a smaller companion exhibit: You Know I'm No Good (the name of a track from Amy's lauded Back to Black album). Here, you'll find contemporary artworks by Bay Area artists Jason Jägel and Jennie Ottinger, and New York artist Rachel Harrison—all of which reflect the public/celebrity side of the singer.
Final thoughts: Getting to know the softer side of Amy is well worth the price of admission.
The exhibit runs through November 1, 2015. Various talks, performances and events related to the exhibit will be held throughout its run. Check here for schedule.