Amy forgets her troubles on night of Grammy glory

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The Independent Culture

It was 4am, and while most of west London slept, at the Riverside Studios a small audience was seated and a microphone set up.

A teary mother took her place in the front row for a private performance that the world would look in on.

Only Amy Winehouse could have done the Grammys like this.

The crowning glory of her short career was every bit as strange as the disturbing life she leads alongside it. Thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, they toasted her remarkable talent, and awarded her a total of five Grammy awards.

Winehouse, back in London, sang to her friends.

Her wonderful voice was, of course, beamed live to proceedings in California with accompanying moving images of the woman we have come to know as much for her chaotic private life as her vocal brilliance. It is hard to find an article these days that doesn't add the epithet "troubled" to any description of the singer, yet in the small hours of yesterday morning, she seemed anything but. Joking with the backing singers, the low-key evening could symbolise the dichotomy of her increasingly bizarre life.

Even when it emerged that she had scooped the five Grammys, Winehouse kept things simple.

Instead of quaffing the ever-flowing champagne, she engaged with those across the Atlantic by video link before retiring upstairs for a game of pool.

Despite a fraught personal life that has threatened to overshadow her career, Winehouse was given the sought-after best new artist award, as well as best female pop vocal at the 50th annual Grammy music awards. The single "Rehab" also got both record of the year and song of the year, while her album Back to Black took the best pop vocal album.

Her west London set included "Rehab", a song in which she says she won't succumb to demands to check into a clinic.

The performance initiated a wry smile from Winehouse, who only emerged from the Capio Nightingale clinic in north London at the end of last week.

She had been in the rehab centre since 24 January, and left on Friday to rehearse for the awards.

On hearing that she had won five of the prestigious American awards, Winehouse looked stunned. She then turned and put her arm around her mother Janis and said: "To my mum and dad. To my Blake, my Blake incarcerated."

She also dedicated the win to London, "because Camden Town is burning down", a reference to the huge fire in the capital this weekend.

The 24-year-old's career had been on shaky ground since she cancelled her UK tour following her husband Blake Fielder-Civil's arrest.

He is in custody awaiting trial on charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and grievous bodily harm.

His time in jail seems to have taken its toll on Winehouse, who has been spotted leaving the prison in floods of tears.

But Winehouse seemed genuinely humbled by the latest accolade.

For a British artist to get just one Grammy award is an achievement in the notoriously impenetrable American music market, but to take five is an indication of Winehouse's singular success.

Perhaps this success will mark a turning point in the bizarre personal life of Amy Winehouse. Those few people with her yesterday will certainly hope so.