Eva Cassidy Biography
Review The Artist (18)
Eva Cassidy was born 2 February 1963. Growing up in a musical family on the outskirts of Washington, DC, she sang as a small child and later learned to play the guitar. Even then as a child she had an amazing gift for perfect harmony, and on family outings, she would sing, harmonising perfectly with the music from the car radio. Her father, a teacher of children with learning disabilities and a part-time musician, formed a family band with Eva, her brother Danny, on violin, and himself on bass. She endured school, preferring her own company and, whenever possible, being involved with music and painting.
In 1986 she did the art work for a projected album by a band, Method Actor, led by a friend, Dave Lourim. She was asked to sing on the album and was heard by producer Chris Biondo who, impressed by her raw talent, encouraged her and introduced her to other musicians. Cassidy appeared on several albums as a backing singer, including E-40's I Wanna Thank You. Meantime, Biondo was stockpiling tapes by Cassidy and in 1991, while recording Chuck Brown And The Soul Searchers, played examples for the group's leader. Brown was immediately taken with her sound, as indeed would be other artists including Roberta Flack and Shirley Horn, and in 1992 Eva and Chuck recorded The Other Side (Liaison).
Early the following year Chuck Brown and Eva Cassidy began performing live, including an appearance at Washington's Blues Alley. The collaboration with Chuck Brown was one which Eva would value very highly. They performed well together. seem to blend instinctively, and they respected and admired each other as artists.
Later in the year, following a medical check-up, Eva Cassidy had outpatient surgery for a malignant skin lesion on her back. Early in 1994 she recorded for Blue Note Records and toured with the group Pieces Of A Dream, but, unlike the sessions with Brown, she found this musically unsatisfying. In January 1996 she appeared at Blues Alley again, a session that was recorded, but when summer came she was unwell. Eva had been experiencing pain in her hip for some time. At the time she was working for a friend in Annapolis on murals in schools cafeterias, and she put the soreness down to too much ladder work. Eventually Eva had a number of tests. Although cancer was suspected, only after several more tests, was the diagnosis confirmed: advanced melanoma. She was told that she had three to five months to live.
Eva was admitted to Johns Hopkins hospital. A constant stream of friends kept coming, bringing her fruit and flowers. She felt badly that these were going to waste, so she asked someone to bring in paper and crayons. Often she could not see her visitors because of the regimen she had, so this way she helped her visitors to express themselves to her. When one stepped off the elevator and saw the hallways lined with people sitting on the floor colouring, talking and getting to know each other; it was a wonderful scene to behold. Eva had every picture hung on the big wall at the end of her bed so she could see them.
In September a tribute concert was organised. It was a moving occasion for all. There were different artists playing all night. Eva Cassidy came out with Chuck Brown at the end. They chose "Red Top" for her, so she wouldn't have to sing much. He covered her with his animated style, letting her just stand and join in. It was a warm partnership in song. But then she had someone bring her a stool, and sat down to play and sing, "What a Wonderful World". It was amazing that she pulled together all that strength to do the number- and of course all who knew her were all stunned. That was the last song Eva Cassidy sang in public. It was one of those times that those who were there, will never forget.
After the concert Eva had a couple of hundred 'thank you' cards made. She made a little drawing for it, a heart-shaped smiling face. When friends would visit later, they would find her bent over her pen, handwriting notes on all the cards. She had very little energy and stamina to sit, but she used that time to thank people.
On her Brother Danny's last visit shortly before Eva passed away, he recorded the violin track for " I know You By Heart". Later her father, brother and friends played a concert for her outside her bedroom window.
Eva Cassidy died on 2nd November 1996. She was only 33 years old.
The memorial service later that month was in Greenbelt park, Maryland with the sun shining. It was as Eva would have wanted. Her brother played the violin. Friends sang. Over four hundred people came. A most wonderful voice had been stilled. Yet as Sian and Peter Charlton say so beautifully in their wonderful Welsh tribute to Eva: 'Sibrwd yn yr Yd' (a Whisper in the Corn)
Rhywle dal i ganu.
Rwy'n dy glywed yn y glaw
Sibrwd yn yr yd
Canu o hyd
Singing - somewhere still singing.
I can hear you in the rain
A never ending inspiration
A whisper in the corn - still singing
Eva's singing voice was a crystalline soprano, ideal for the ballads and folk songs she performed. But she also had tremendous power and when she turned to soul and gospel-flavoured material her voice resounded with emotional sincerity. Her repertoire drew from all these areas and from the more melodic aspects of contemporary pop. While she might be placed only on the edges of jazz her conviction and integrity would often ably carry her over the hazy boundary. The excellent interpretation of Sting 's 'Fields Of Gold', on 'Live at Blues Alley' and (minus the applause) on the compilation album 'Songbird', is breathtaking in clarity and delivery, and ofcourse her now famous interpretation of "Over the Rainbow".
Most of her recorded work displays a remarkable and unspoiled talent, and almost all of it has been released posthumously. Although Eva Cassidy did go to art school, she never had any formal voice training.
In Britain Eva's music can be heard regularly on many radio stations, but specially on BBC Radio 2 during the 'Wake up to Wogan' show.
The 'Toggs' (Terry's old geezers and gals' as he likes to call them), have had the pleasure of listening to her wonderful voice many times. Thankfully she is a favourite with Terry and Paul, the program's producer. Terry called her once 'the late but mighty Eva Cassidy'. Chances are, that you have heard this remarkable artist yourself, even if you did not catch the name at the time.
When you read and hear about Eva Cassidy the person, the artist, read her story, you soon begin to understand why so many people think she was very special indeed. Not only as an artist, but also as a person. This from an article by Joel E. Siegel:
" Eva was a complex person, painfully shy, vulnerable to criticism and subject to seasonal depressions, yet opinionated and unyielding in her personal values and artistic principles. She loved solitude, bicycling, movies and Cheetos, hated high school, dresses, aggressive drivers and the exploitation of women in advertising and television. She was obsessive about her art projects, painting, drawing, sculpting, designing jewellery, decorating furniture and clock faces. Extremely self-conscious, she had little interest in pursuing a professional career in art or music, preferring to surround herself with supportive friends who served as her advocates.
She had few possessions and modest goals, sometimes she spoke of wanting to live in a cottage by the ocean, and no sense of money. She didn't have a checking account until she was 30, and worried that material success would threaten her identity. Battling the melanoma that took her life at 33, she told her mother "All I want to do when I get well is sing and travel around with my music" .
The major record companies had difficulty trying to put Eva's style in a category. She refused to be pushed into a single direction, preferring instead to sing the songs she loved, whether they were Jazz or Spiritual, Country or Pop. It was always a sadness to her that people did not understand that she just wanted to sing nice songs, make good music. Bruce Lundvall president of Jazz and classics for Capitol Records considered signing Eva Cassidy and it was he who teamed her with the band Pieces of a Dream for a while. But for Eva this was musically unsatisfying and he did not pursue her talent after that.
Bruce Lundvall once said that he visited Eva when she was so very ill and he told her that he realised that he had made a terrible mistake not pursuing her career her way.
Eva, forever generous responded with " God bless you".
It does not matter what your musical taste is. It does not matter if you buy just one or many CDs each year. You will find that any Eva Cassidy CD will become a treasured possession.
It is the same story, the World over, every time anyone hears Eva Cassidy's voice for the first time.
You stop what you are doing and you listen. Then you rush out and buy the other CDs.
And you will be so glad you did.
Until now, except for newspaper articles and websites like this, little has been written about Eva's life. But now, for the first time, Eva's story is told by her parents, family and friends.
Eva Cassidy Songbird, is a wonderful book. Full of memories, stories and photographs. It is available now in the UK from all good bookshops and stores.
Please click here to submit the latest Eva Cassidy biography
amazing lady timeless voicr | Reviewer: sylvia | 12/3/12
Timeless and forever eternal a voice that touches yr very soul it always does when i Hear her Sing. Fields of gold my favorite it Always makes me cry a sad loss to the music industry she is a legend and will ever always be a true star who is now playing for the angels in heaven rip eva cassidy we love yu and always shallxx
a truly beautiful voice n soul blessed by angels | Reviewer: sylvia | 12/3/12
Absolutely love this ladys voice is so sad that she
Was taken away from this world too soon
asany new songs she would Hve produced wd have been legendary she pulls at my heartstrings every time i hear her sing and she touches me inner Soul a trul. Beautiful lady whos songs will always remain timeless xxxxxx
I kept wondering who I could give her to first.... | Reviewer: Alan Plum | 5/21/12
I spent several hours this evening...morning...entering two of Eva's CDs into my computer, going nuts with the entrancing beauty of her voice. I thought no one knew of her...only to find that she had a huge and devoted audience, reassuring somehow to find her so honored. Only tears express where she took me....
The first time I heard Eva sing Over the Rainbow | Reviewer: Christopher | 11/7/11
I love this womans voice. The ability to be so soft and the power that she could deliver as in Over the Rainbow left me weak. Only Linda Ronstadt sings very much like Eva. Wait no that should really be the other around.
Both are my only female singers I like the best!
Thanks for listening to me and thank Eva for just being who you where and allow me to hear your beautiful voice:
Christopher S Matthews
The Voice Of A Angel | Reviewer: Whatadoozer | 8/17/11
A friend e-mailed me the Eva Cassidy Story yesterday and I haven't been the same since. "Wayfaring Stranger", was sung at my Mom's funeral and "What A Wonderful World" at my Dad's. I feel so connected with this beautiful soul that reunited me with my Mom and Dad. Eva gave me back my own voice to sing again. Thank you Eva, my angel.
Angelic voice | Reviewer: Jenny | 12/30/10
I was looking for an anniversary song for my daughter, so I went on you tube. I saw Eva's picture and thought "I have never heard or seen her before." As I clicked on the song she sang. I began to weep like a child. It touched me so heavily on my heart. I began to search more about her. I read the biography and I cried even more. God is enjoying her voice now more but I hope the family keeps her songs alive, for I will continue to search for more of her music and bless others with it. What messages that were written, reflects so many people in everyday life. I thank God that He allowed her to record and leave us this blessing. Thanks to Eva's precious family. What a beautiful story and what a beautiful voice! Love Jen
velvet voice | Reviewer: sharni | 4/30/10
Eva'a different take on a lot of different covers is so wonderfully executed. 'Imagine', 'Songbird' and many more. I often will play 'Autumn Leaves' and just sit and listen and let her voice take me away. It is such a haunting song. She should be given more praise.
Amazing and Breath Taking Voice | Reviewer: Giuliano Gemmiti | 4/1/10
I accidently heard Eva while listening to her on the radio. She immediately inspired me. I read her biography and it brought tears to eyes. What a beautiful voice. What a shame that she is gone, but how great that her spirit lives on. I only wish there was more of Eva Cassidy to hear. Would someone please do a movie about Eva.
Good lord! | Reviewer: tom ellis | 11/3/09
How is this angel not a household name across the world! I am a 44 year old man, and just 10 minutes ago was tesaring up like a little girl! I am a musician, and I want to go on record by saying that Eva Cassidy was right up there with aretha, whitney, and all others that when listening to them, you drift off to wherever they take you, and she had the voice to change a mood, that is very rare! I just wish to God that I knew her. Even after 13 years of not having her here with us, she is still in my thoughts, and I will forever inform people about her. Rest in peace Eva, and know that we miss you dearly!
My Tears | Reviewer: Christopher S. M. | 6/1/09
I first learned of eve when I saw her on when A
television show was doing a small piece and then
played Eve's cover of Over the Rainbow. The beauty of Eve's voice brought me to tears. I couldn't believe the soft clarity and then the power that she brought to that wonderful song.
When I learned her full sad story my tears were flowing again. Sadly I only own one of Eve's CD's but tomorro I'll go on a quest for more.
I love you Eve
Eva still lives in everyone | Reviewer: Deanaleigh Emsley | 11/9/08
My mum and I listen to Eva all the time. We really love her voice and realy apeciate her. Eva is a true insperation to everyone who has heard of her or he music. I have a real passion for dance and as i am still in scchool I choose dance as one of my subjects,as a big part of my G.C.S.E in dance I have been asked to create a dance to music of my choice. I am strongly concidering using Eva Cassidy's life and her music for this and will most probly end up doing so. R.I.P Eva love Dee Dee xxx
Breathtaking | Reviewer: Wouter | 12/8/07
We got a cd of Eva from our neighbours with the comment, don't ask just listen. We never heard of her before. As we started listening we were kind of surprised for we felt some emotion coming up somewhere. Only by listening to her great clear voice we experienced that music had an extra dimension which we never felt before.
No other artist is capable of being so close to you when you listen to her music, she even touches you while she's singing.
Thank you Eva
Never Before, Never Again... | Reviewer: Brenda Dasef, FL | 11/30/07
I have never heard or listened to any voice like that of Eva Cassidy. She amazes me, the compassion that is transferred from her to me as she sings the words. It's as if she knows something about my soul. I sing, but I do realize it would be impossible for me to ever think I could even come anywhere near close to her vocals; style, quality, depth, & again, that "feeling transfer" she has of making you feel the way you do when you hear her. I am sure she must be with God's angels looking after all of us. We can only thank God for angels like Eva. ~ God rest your soul until we meet again ~
Eva my love | Reviewer: Mary Earle | 9/25/07
My husband was watching a segment on 60 minutes that featured Eva Cassidy's story. He told me about her and just from hearing about her I became interest. The following day I was brousing a magazine store in the Haight Ashbury district in San Francisco when I picked up a magazine with an article on Paul McCarthy's review of his favorite CDs and he stated that Eva Cassidy was on the top of his list. I dash over to the record store and purchased Songbird. I played it on the way home and I could not believe what I was hearing. I was so moved and touched by this amazing woman. She touched me in a way that I can't explain. It is rare for me to love every song on a CD but I do in her case. Not only that but I went on line and bought each and every available Eva Cassidy CD. I simply love her. I sing along with her in my car and I cannot listen to her without singing along. I went on line to read her story and I cried for the loss of this angel. She is an American tragedy and still America's best kept secret because so few people know about. When I traveled Europe, I heard her music on the radio but I have never heard it here. I make a point of giving her CD's as gifts to my friends. Again I never seem to get enough of her. What a talent. Her voice is flawless, I feel her soul when I play her. I LOVE HER. After Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Whitney Houston, I didn't think anyone could move me with their voice but she has done it. She is amazing, she makes me smile, she makes me warm, she makes me happy.
I love her voice and her life | Reviewer: lAURA pOWELL | 9/1/07
Eva has brought a new dimintion in my life as a singer myself and she inspires me more than any person i have been blessed to learn about . I am an artist also and i am blown away by the depth of her soul exposed in art and music . She loved to see and draw cows as I do too .I am going to do a book report on Eva this year . I am planning to fread her life story .Laura
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