While a cloud of mystery continues to surround Amy Winehouse's untimely death, media attention has started to shift to the singer's 15-year-old goddaughter and protege, Dionne Bromfield, who briefly shared the stage with Winehouse during her final public appearance at the iTunes Festivial on July 20.
And although Bromfield, who was the first artist to sign to Winehouse's Lioness Records in 2009, reportedly received the disheartening news of her mentor's passing just two hours before hitting the stage in Pontypridd, Wales, she remained composed and performed her scheduled 20-minute set.
"It was very, very professional. We would have perfectly understood if she hadn't wanted to perform, but she very bravely did," Orchard Entertainment music promoter Tim Powell said recently to BBC News. "There was no pressure, certainly not under those circumstances. She decided that she wanted to play, so it went ahead as scheduled." Powell declined Black Voices' request to comment further on Winehouse's relationship with Bromfield. Since Winehouse's death, the rising star has reportedly pulled out of all media commitments until further notice. Known as somewhat shy and reclusive, Bromfield's decision to take time off to mourn her recent loss comes as no surprise.
Prior to embarking on a professional recording career at the age of 13, Bromfield was in denial of her natural talents.
"Everyone told me I could sing from about the age of ten," Bromfield revealed in an interview on her website. "My mum was always telling me. But I was so shy, I didn't believe them. And the more that people told me, the more I went into the background and the less likely I was to sing."
"But I was at home once, and Amy was round and heard me and she said 'Girl, it's true. You can.' And that started something off in me. I started getting just that bit more confident."
Thanks to the long-time relationship between Bromfield's mother, Julie, and Winehouse's father, Mitch, it wasn't a stretch for Winehouse to step into the role of godmother to the 15-year-old. "My mum knew Amy's dad first and then my mum and Amy used to hang together, and then I popped out and she was, like, 'Hey!' We are family," she explained to the UK's Daily Mail.
Winehouse's blessing was just the first of many to come. Shortly after inking her record deal with Lioness Records, Bromfield spent three weeks in Los Angeles with Toby Gadd, a frequent Beyonce and Rihanna collaborator, who helped her perfect her songwriting process. According to Bromfield, her first experience writing a song in the studio was a bit intimidating and bewildering.
"The first time I was left in the studio with a piece of music to write to, on my own," she later recalled in the interview. "I mean, oh my God! Me? Write a whole song? All these thoughts go through your head, but the first one is 'What if no one likes it?' ... You have to just remember that even when I'm working with lots of amazing people, they all started where I started. Plus I'm much younger than them, so they can see that I might be intimidated."
Working with seasoned musicians and songwriters added more value than she had initially thought. The experience provided life lessons that have set herself apart from her peers at Sylvia Young Theatre School in Westminster, London, where she is currently enrolled.
"Everyone goes to me, 'You're so mature,'" Bromfield told the Guardian earlier this year. "But you've got to be mature in this industry because you're around adults all the time. When I'm with my friends, trust me, I'm definitely still the teenage kid."
To date, Bromfield has released two full-length albums, which showcase the young singer's ability to channel her passion for soul music. Like the late "Rehab" singer's, Bromfield's sound is nostalgic for and reminiscent of the Motown recordings of the 1960s. As the album's lead single for her 2009 debut, "Introducing Dionne Bromfield," the singer-songwriter released a cover version of The Shirelles' timeless classic "Mama Said." And in addition to "Introducing" the world to Dionne Bromfield, the album also introduced a new generation of fans to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's 1967 hit single, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."
Though her debut received acclaim at home, charting in the UK, the effort failed to make a splash here in the States. But with Bromfield's newly released follow-up, "Good for the Soul," she is attempting to break into the U.S. market by tapping Diggy Simmons and Lil Wayne's protege Lil Twist to contribute to the album's first two singles, "Yeah Right" and "Foolin." Since its July 4 release, the project has cracked Billboard's Top 200 albums chart landing at the number 7 slot, and has currently peaked at 74 on the UK's Top 100 albums chart, according to Official Charts.
In the days following Winehouse's death, Bromfield has taken to Twitter to express her feelings over her tragic loss. "I feel like apart of my Soul has departed with the beautiful Song Bird Amy," she wrote. "Please say a PRAY (sic). She loved everyone ... Thank you all for your loving messages and support. Amy had a Place in her Heart for each and everyone of you."