Eva Cassidy, a Little Known Songbird With an Amazing Voice
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.
Eva 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 onto 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.
Surprised by my Research
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, 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", a British Newspaper
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".
The Eva Cassidy Story on ABC Nightline
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© 2014 Thelma Raker Coffone