Amy Winehouse sang many types of music, from blues and jazz to soul and reggae. But no matter what she sang, Winehouse's voice was distinctive. Her low, husky sound is made up of several specific vocal techniques -- techniques she, herself learned from listening to other singers, like jazz legend Dinah Washington.
Mostly Use Your Chest Voice
Amy Winehouse is best known for her deep voice. To get a similar sound, you'll need to sing in your "chest voice" -- the notes that, when sung, send vibrations mostly into your chest. This is also the part of the voice range that you speak in. To hit the low notes Winehouse often did, remember that your throat should feel relaxed. Don't try to sing loudly; low notes are best hit softly, with the microphone close to the lips.
Make Higher Notes Breathy
When Winehouse did sing higher notes, they were usually quite breathy. An example of this is "Teach Me Tonight," when she sings the "to" in "tonight" at the end. To imitate this, push a lot of air through your throat as you sing. Like the lowest notes you vocalize, these higher notes must be sung softly. If you have trouble hitting higher notes, raise your soft palate; you can do this by either dropping your jaw low or by smiling as you keep your mouth mostly closed.
Scoop Beginning Notes
Winehouse often scooped notes for emphasis. For example, when she sang "Love Is a Loosing Game," she usually scooped the first use of the word "flame." If you're not used to scooping notes, try singing a whole or half note lower than the note that's written in the song, then slide up to the correct note. Remember that while you're not going to hit the correct note at first, you must eventually reach that note and sing it in tune.
Attack Beginning Notes
Winehouse often attacked notes at the beginning of a phrase in a way that sounded husky -- for instance, the first word in the song "Tears Dry on Their Own." This is called "vocal fry." To learn this technique, sing scales on the word "mum." By doing this, you are bringing the vocal cords together quickly, creating a growly or husky sound.
- Entertainment Weekly: Tony Bennett on Amy Winehouse
- Vocal Skills; What is Head Voice/Chest Voice?
- The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults; James C. McKinney; 2005
Kristina Seleshanko began adult life as a professional singer and actress, working on both the West and East coasts. She regularly sang jazz in nightclubs, performed in musical theatre, and sang opera and pop. Later, Seleshanko became the author of 18 books, and has written for such publications as "Woman's Day," "Today's Christian Woman," and "True West." Seleshanko has also been a writing coach, a research librarian for "Gourmet" magazine, and a voice teacher.