In addition to the story of Winehouse’s art, the show’s other major emphasis is on her Jewishness. While the singer didn’t seem to have placed undue emphasis on her relationship to Jewishness or Judaism, her brother and family have taken great efforts to interpret her art in the context of her family and their traditions. Winehouse’s extended family featured many jazz musicians, and the family tree painted on the museum’s wall indicates a deeper and richer heritage, tracing itself back several generations to Belarus. The exhibition also includes cookbooks and other heirlooms of Winehouse’s Jewish roots.
And yet as we know, Winehouse’s music was also related to another great tradition—African-American soul and R&B. That relationship is certainly embedded in “A Family Portrait.” LP covers from Winehouse’s collection, including records by Thelonious Monk and Sarah Vaughn, are framed upon the wall. Rarely in the exhibition, however, is the relationship of Winehouse’s production to the great African-American tradition she cites and recites addressed.