Love Letter To A Record: Thandi Phoenix On Amy Winehouse’s ‘Frank’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

Thandi Phoenix: Amy Winehouse – ‘Frank’

Dear Frank,

Time’s served you well. You’re still as charming as the first time I heard you.

‘Fuck Me Pumps’ was my introduction to you and to Amy Winehouse. She was like no other. Amy wasn’t a cookie cutter pop star singing cheesy love songs. She was badass, soulful, raspy and raw, more reminiscent of the jazz greats like Sarah Vaughn or Ella Fitzgerald. You could tell this chick didn’t give a shit and was ready to serve the truth up on a cold platter. That’s what I fell in love with. The honesty, the vulnerability, her sense of humour and her KILLER vocals and musicality.

I discovered you at a time where I’d just given up the clarinet. I was sick of being taught classical music, all I wanted to do was play jazz and upgrade to a saxophone. They were too expensive at the time and my dreams of being Lisa Simpson quickly dissolved. I decided I’d move onto guitar as they were more accessible and would be a good instrument to accompany me singing. There you were like a shining light, combining my love of jazz and hip hop, via a girl and her guitar. I learnt you back to front. Sitting on my bed listening over and over again, shaping my fingers just right around the fretboard, trying to emulate your sound. I even bought your sheet music. That’s right, not just some shitty tabs I printed off the internet and shoved into a binder folder. You were special Frank.

I sang ‘You Sent Me Flying’ for my final HSC performance. Back then I used to deal with THE WORST stage fright. Butterflies beating out my chest, a voice that quivered like a leaf in a hurricane. Although I was incredibly nervous, the attitude and character that oozed out of you, gave me strength and maybe the quiver passed as an OTT vibrato (wishful thinking lol). Your songs continued to help me, I got my first bar gig with a demo I sent in of ‘Stronger Than Me’ and continued playing your songs.

When it came to songwriting you inspired me to be bold, honest and raw. There’s strength that can be found in your vulnerability and just as I connected with your lyrics you showed me the power music has, connecting people through song.

When Amy Winehouse passed I felt like I’d lost a friend. I took my guitar to Hyde park and sung through all of your songs as a goodbye as a thank you and reminder of all the times you’d been there for me. I was very sad to see an artist I admired and respected leave this world, but grateful for the gift that she left behind.

Frank, you’re timeless. The magic laced between your lyrics and melodies are undeniable and I’m sure for years to come people will embrace and enjoy you like I have.

Thank you x

Thandi Phoenix

Thandi Phoenix’s brand new single My Way, produced by Rudimental, is out now.

RELATED: Love Letter To A Record: Winston Surfshirt On Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’

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