Singer Natalie Cole has felt it necessary to tell People magazine that Amy Winehouse didn’t deserve any of her five Grammy awards. Cole says that because Amy is battling a drug addiction, her awards send a bad message. She even said Amy was “having her cake and eating it too,” which I found an odd choice of words, as it implies that Amy’s getting everything she wants: drugs and Grammys. I doubt that Amy logically wants drugs or to be a drug addict as much as she wants to be a successful, award winning singer. She’s an addict, and drugs have a hold on her. That’s different. The comments are especially ironic considering that Natalie Cole has admitted to having some pretty serious drug problems herself, and used LSD, heroin, and cocaine. She went into rehab in the eighties and straightened herself out.
“I don’t think she should have won. 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,” said Cole, 58. “We have to stop rewarding bad behavior.”
Of Winehouse, 24, who is currently in rehab in England, Cole says: “I’m sorry. I think the girl is talented, gifted, but it’s not right for her to be able to have her cake and eat it too. She needs to get herself together.”
On the seriousness of Winehouse’s troubles, Cole – who over the years has battled her own substance-abuse problems, successfully – observes, “I mean, she could die. This isn’t something that’s cute and fun just to throw around in the press. The girl really has a problem, and I think for those of us who have been in the business long enough, we know the sacrifice it takes. This is about discipline and hard work, and you don’t get to just do your drugs and go onstage and get rewarded.”
We don’t yet know how Amy’s story will end up, but we do know that she’s been in rehab and seems to be making improvements in her life. Cole’s comments might make a little more sense if Amy weren’t in rehab and were still parading around the streets of London high as a kite. But to say she doesn’t deserve her success just because she has a problem seems pretty hypocritical, or like Natalie Cole is assuming Amy won’t be able to beat her addiction. The whole “she needs to get herself together” comment really rubs me the wrong way, because that is exactly what Amy Winehouse is trying to do. It’s not an overnight process, and as Natale Cole should know, getting your life back together takes time, and battling an addiction is a lifelong struggle.
Cole also noted, “Her performance was fine… I don’t take anything away from her talent, but I just feel like she’s stepping into a place that she hasn’t earned yet.” Amy didn’t “step into a place she hasn’t earned yet.” She was nominated for awards and she won them, because other people felt she had talent. It’s not like she’s out there telling everyone that she’s the best and the greatest – people are saying that about her. Not to get too nit picky, but the Grammys are awards for singing. Obviously there’s politics behind them and someone living a certain way could taint their image and not be rewarded for their talent. But technically the award is just for a song or a record, not for a lifestyle. People thought Amy had the best song, so she won. I think it’s only fair to wish her the best and hope she gets her life together, and not to say she doesn’t deserve good things just because she’s still in the middle of that process.
Here’s Natalie Cole with Seal at the Grammys. Images thanks to PR Photos.