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Baker's Dozen

Things I Hold Dear: Nadine Shah's Favourite Albums
Jeremy Allen , June 3rd, 2020 08:46

In this week's Baker's Dozen, Nadine Shah guides Jeremy Allen through favourite albums from Mariah Carey to Fat White Family, along the way discussing her friendship with Amy Winehouse and why Richard Dawson is the only man who should be allowed acoustic guitars at parties


Amy Winehouse - Frank
I moved to London when I was 17 and I was a jazz singer and one of the first friends I made on the jazz circuit was Amy Winehouse. It was a long time ago. She was a sparring partner and a drinking partner and we had a really close relationship for a while. I thought it was about two years but when I looked back in my diary it turned out to be three months that we hung out - and then we didn't. We were good friends and then I used her backing band for a show of my own and she never spoke to me afterwards. I think the last thing she said to me was, "Fuck you, you cow" [laughs]. 

Anyway, she was amazing. She was one of the funniest people I ever met. We would sit up and listen to jazz records, the two of us, and there was a concert I did for 6 Music recently and it was in Camden at the Roundhouse and they asked if I'd do a tribute to her. I didn't do an Amy Winehouse song, I did a jazz cover called 'There Is No Greater Love', and it's one that me and her used to sing together walking around or in the pub. 

As a jazz singer I found doing the standards and the Cole Porter songbook pretty boring after a while, and then Frank came out and it was like, 'Yeah, that's how I make it youthful, that's how I make it relevant', and all of a sudden jazz was cool. It introduced a young audience to that genre and it was pushing boundaries and being innovative and doing what jazz should do. 

They're some of my favourite lyrics by any musician. I know people are often turned off by a woman being crude or whatever but I don't mind if you say 'cunt'. People say it's not very ladylike - well she was more of a lady than anyone I've ever met. She was brilliant. Even with her drug and alcohol problems and everything else, as a strong, powerful woman, she's a strong role model. I'm still listening to that album over and over again and it was really important in my development as an artist.