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Worst offense: Squandering talent

So much has been gossiped and joked and tsk-tsked about all the celebrity train wrecks this year that it's easy to miss their sad reality.

For every idiotic ding-dong like Paris Hilton, there is a true tragedy in the making like Amy Winehouse.

If you're on the gossip sites and entertainment blogs as much as I am (which pray to God you aren't, because I'm pretty sure they've dropped my IQ by 30 points) it's been impossible to avoid all the shots of Winehouse looking alternately dazed, drugged and deranged.

I consider Winehouse's breakthrough one of the triumphs of 2007. The first time I heard her intoxicating mix of retro-soul and cool Britannia, I was hooked.

I've played her CD to a nub. I've preached about her to my friends. I've marvelled at the gravity-defying properties of her beehive hairdo.

And I've waited patiently for her concert tour to head our way. And waited. And waited. And continue to wait.

Because just when Winehouse's career was hitting hyperdrive, she called off her concert tour. At first, the cancellations came in chunks, and now the remainder is off.

The reason? She couldn't bear to get on stage while separated from her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, who is in jail in London awaiting trial on charges of assault and perverting the course of justice.

And if that wasn't "Cops" enough for you, this is the same Blake whose name is tattooed on Winehouse's chest. And it's the same Blake who was spotted wandering the streets of London with his wife after a big row, each of them a bloodied and bruised mess.

Now, without Blake around, Winehouse has been spotted wandering the streets of London again, this time barefoot and crying, wearing only a bra and jeans. Other times, she has been caught with her nostrils caked in a mysterious white substance.

Things do not look good for our heroine.

As her public life dissolves into a sad spectacle, so does her music. Those lucky enough to hear Winehouse sing such instantly iconic numbers as "Back to Black" and "Love is a Losing Game" earlier this year were blown out of their seats. Those who caught her near the end of the year left their seats.

It seems a sin to squander talent like this.

Her six Grammy nominations are beyond deserved. What makes her so good is her vulnerability and honesty. And that voice, good heavens, that voice. There is a sense that she has lived every word, which is where the trouble starts.

Sure, it seemed fun and cheeky at first when she turned down "Rehab." But now I feel like practically begging her to turn that "no, no, no" into a "yes, yes, yes."

It's true, the greats have often lived their art. But a sad song sung shouldn't become a sad song realized. Get off the train, Amy Winehouse. There is talent at the end of that tunnel that shouldn't be wrecked.

Elsewhere around the Scene:

Modestan and "American Idol" season one semifinalist/wild-card contestant Alexis Lopez is featured on the new CD "American Christmas."

The Christmas compilation CD released nationally by "American Idol" includes past contestants like Frenchie Davis and RJ Helton.

Lopez, who now goes by Alexis Stone Lopez, sings "Winter Wonderland" on the disc. Her cover of the holiday classic is the CD's top song on iTunes.

The 2002 Beyer High graduate lives in Los Angeles and is working on her debut CD. Visit alexisstonelopez.com. ...

Modesto-based Christian rock group Worth Dying For has signed a record deal with Integrity Music Group.

The five-member band has been part of Phenomenon Ministries, the youth ministry of Calvary Temple of Modesto, and is made up of vocalists Christy Johnson, bassist Sean Loche, guitarists Nathan Parish and Micah Berteau and drummer Josh O'Haire.

The group will release its first national CD in spring 2008 on the label, one of the fastest-growing companies in the Christian music market. Visit www.myspace.com/

worthdyingformusic. ...

And finally, dance in the holidays as Dub 9 brings the Naughty & Nice Xmas Party to the Fat Cat Music House & Lounge on Saturday. The night's host will be Fetty Be, and spinning will be DJ Tommy Girl and DJ Shey Love. Music at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5, free with a toy donation. Call 524-1400.

Bee entertainment writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at

mrowland@modbee.com or 578-2284. Read her blog SceneIt at thehive.modbee.com/sceneit.

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