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Eva Cassidy: Little-Known Songbird With an Amazing Voice

Eva Cassidy, singer and musician

Eva Cassidy, singer and musician

American Singer and Musician

Don't be surprised if you have never heard of the talented singer and musician Eva Cassidy. Most people in the United States, even self-proclaimed music aficionados, are not familiar with her or her music. If you live in the United Kingdom, chances are you probably have listened to this amazing American songstress as she reached popularity there long before being known in her native country.

Cassidy's talent spanned the gamut of the musical genres: jazz, blues, country, folk, gospel, rock and pop.

Until recently, I had not been aware of her. I happened upon one of her songs by accident, and I couldn't get the sound of her beautiful voice out of my head. It made me want to hear more and learn more about this lady with a voice like I had never heard before. It made me want to share that knowledge with you.

She Got Her Start in DC

What I found during my research surprised and saddened me. Eva had passed away before she or her music had a chance to become known or appreciated.

Prior to her death, she developed a following in Washington, DC, where she lived. She recorded an album at Blues Alley, a jazz club in the Georgetown neighborhood of DC and she recorded a duet album with Chuck Brown, a legendary soul music entertainer. She performed as an opening act for performers Al Green and the Neville Brothers. But her scope of recognition and fan following existed mostly in her home area.

Her Untimely Death

After having a malignant mole removed from her back in 1993, the melanoma spread to other parts of her body. Despite treatment, she lost her battle with cancer in November of 1996. Sadly, Eva Cassidy was only 33 years old when she died.

A short time before her death, she performed at the Bayou, a nightclub in Georgetown. She knew she didn't have long to live and this was to be her last performance. The venue was packed with friends, family and fans. Her closing song that night was what some have referred to as her signature song, "What a Wonderful World". Her poignant rendition brought tears to the audience, as they realized this was the last time they would ever hear that beautiful voice in person.

Fame Came After She Was Gone

After her untimely death, several CDs featuring her songs were released. The first was Songbird which topped the charts in the United Kingdom and obtained platinum status. In the United States, it reached the coveted gold ranking.

Her music has been showcased in many different venues from Olympic ice skating competitions to the Lifetime television program Army Wives, among other shows and movies. At least two books have been written about Eva's life and a future movie is in the planning stages. The television program, ABC Nightline, produced a documentary surrounding her life and music.

What Makes Eva Cassidy and Her Music So Memorable

You might ask, with all of the singers who have performed on this earth, what makes Eva Cassidy stand out among them?

"There's an undeniable emotional appeal in hearing an artist who you know died in obscurity singing a song about hope and a mystical world beyond everyday life."

— The Guardian

Her Voice Will Be Remembered

The reference was being made about her rendition of the number one song of the 20th century, Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow". Many, including myself, feel that Eva's way of singing it was familiar and, at the same time, it was different in a very good way.

Some will agree with The Guardian's account of the reason for her posthumous popularity. However, I don't. I think that some fans may feel sympathy for the life that was cut short too soon and they may have an emotional connection with the "what might have been" factor. However, the reality is the lady had an amazing talent. She could hold a note so long it would take your breath away. Just by listening to her captivating voice, you know, without a doubt, she was singing from her soul.

The song I mentioned that cast a spell over me was "Fields of Gold" which was originally released by the artist Sting. It's the kind of song that you can listen to over and over again and each time you just want to turn up the volume, close your eyes and sing along with the songbird with the beautiful voice.

You haven't heard the last of Eva Cassidy's music. It will continue to gain popularity and will be marveled at for years to come, even though she is no longer with us. The reporter for the ABC Nightline documentary summed it up best, "Death doesn't always get the last word".

Questions & Answers

Question: Are you aware there are three un-released taped recordings of Eva's performances from 1994 and 1995? They were offered to her record company but refused by them. True to say, they would require some work, but isn't she worth the effort ?

Answer: She is absolutely worth the effort! Perhaps one day they will change their minds about them. I wrote this article about her in hopes of keeping her beautiful voice alive. Thank you for reading and please feel free to share with my readers any information you have about Eva Cassidy.

© 2014 Thelma Raker Coffone

Please Share Your Comments

Tracy scarlett on May 27, 2016:

I love Eva Cassidy music so beautifully written and graceful and thank you for the research into this beautiful songbird

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 30, 2014:

Goosebumps is right. It's sad she remained a virtual unknown, but many fabulously talented people are while marginally talented people are famous for simply being famous. So sad. Thanks for writing about her and sharing those videos.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on August 25, 2014:

MizBejabbers I'm glad you took the time to watch the videos. Hearing is description of her voice just didn't do it justice. Thanks for your comments.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on August 25, 2014:

She was phenomenal and to be taken so young is so sad. I'm glad you wrote this because I had never had the privilege of listening to her. Now I have. Loved the vids.

travmaj from australia on August 24, 2014:

Yes Thelma - I agree, somewhere Over the Rainbow is fabulous. It would be difficult to dislike any of her work. Thanks again.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on August 24, 2014:

Gods Provision thanks for reading my article about Eva Cassidy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on August 24, 2014:

vsajewel welcome to HubPages! Thank you for taking the time to read my article and for your nice comment.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on August 24, 2014:

travmaj I am so glad that you know of Eva's music and that you liked my article. What do you think of her version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow? I think it is fabulous!

travmaj from australia on August 24, 2014:

Thank you for this wonderful, well deserved tribute to Eva Cassidy. We are huge fans and Fields of Gold is a favourite - packed with emotion and just so beautiful to listen to. So sad that Eva left us at such a young age and will never know how her music affects us with so much emotion. Lovely to read this -

vsajewel on August 23, 2014:

Fascinating story. I've never heard of her, but am so glad I happened upon this. Thank you!

Jeremy n Michelle from Texas on August 23, 2014:

What a neat tidbit. Thank you for researching this and sharing.