- Eva Cassidy
Infobox Musical artist
Name = Eva Cassidy
Img_size = 185
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Eva Marie Cassidy
Born = birth date|mf=yes|1963|02|2
Died = death date and age|mf=yes|1996|11|2|1963|02|2
Maryland, United States
Instrument = Vocals,
Jazz, Blues, Folk, Gospel and Pop
Years_active = 1981–1996
Label = flagicon|USA Liaison
flagicon|USA Blix Street
URL = [http://www.evacassidy.org/ www.evacassidy.org]
Eva Marie Cassidy (February 2, 1963 – November 2, 1996) was an American
vocalistknown for her interpretations of jazz, blues, folk, gospel, country and pop classics. She released her first album "The Other Side", a set of duets with go-gomusician Chuck Brownin 1992 followed by a live solo album, " Live at Blues Alley" in 1996. Cassidy was virtually unknown outside her native Washington, DCwhen she died of melanomain 1996.
Four years later, Cassidy's music was brought to the attention of UK audiences when her versions of "
Over the Rainbow" and "Fields of Gold" were played on BBC Radio 2. Following the overwhelming response, a camcorder recording of "Over the Rainbow" taken at the Blues Alleywas shown on BBC Two's " Top of the Pops 2". Shortly after, the compilation album "Songbird", climbed to the top of the UK Albums Charts, almost three years after its initial release. The chart success in the United Kingdom led to increased recognition worldwide; as of 2008, her posthumously released recordings, including three UK #1s, have sold around eight million copies. [http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/annearundel/bal-ar.eva28aug28,0,7544971.story A voice silenced in 1996 is brought back to life] Mary Johnson, "The Baltimore Sun", August 28, 2008] Her music has also charted top 10 positions in Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.
Born on February 2, 1963 at the
Washington Hospital Center, [Burley et al. p.13.] Eva Marie Cassidy was the third of four children born to Hugh and Barbara Cassidy. Her father, a retired teacher, sculptor, musician and former army medic, is of Scottish and Irish descent while her German-born mother was a horticulturist. [http://www.evacassidy.org/eva/wordmagazine.pdf The Afterlife of Eva Cassidy] (PDF) Dorian Lynske, "Word Magazine", 2003. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] [Burley et al. p.12.] From an early age, Cassidy displayed interest in art and music. When she was nine, her father taught her to play the guitar, and she began to play and sing at family gatherings.
At age 11, Cassidy began her professional career, singing and playing guitar in a Washington area band called Easy Street. [Burley et al. p.54–56.] This band performed in a variety of styles, at weddings, corporate parties, and pubs. Due to her shyness, she struggled with performing in front of strangers. While a student at Bowie High School, she sang with a local band called Stonehenge. During the summer of 1983, Cassidy sang and played guitar six days a week at the theme park Wild World. Her younger brother Dan, a
fiddler was also a member of this working band. She enrolled in art classes at a community college but dropped out after finding them unhelpful. [http://www.crosstownarts.com/CrosstownArts/client_music/eva/evabio.html Liner notes] Joel E. Siegel, "Eva by Heart". Retrieved on March 6, 2008.]
Throughout the 1980s, Cassidy worked with several other bands, including the techno-pop band Characters Without Names. During this period, Cassidy also worked as a propagator at a plant nursery and as a furniture painter. In her free time, she explored other artistic expressions including painting, sculpting and jewelry design. Despite holding a belief in God, Cassidy was not part of any organised religion. [Burley et al. p.165.]
In 1986, Cassidy was asked by Stonehenge guitarist and high school friend David Lourim to lend her voice to his music project,
Method Actor. [Burley et al. p.64.] This brought her to Black Pond Studios, where she met bassist and recording engineer Chris Biondo. Biondo helped her find work as a session singer and later introduced her to Al Dale, who would become her manager. She sang back-ups for various acts from go-go rhythm and bluesband Experience Unlimitedto rapper E-40. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/music/features/1browncassidy0309.htm When Chuck Met Eva] Jefferson Morley, "The Washington Post", March 8, 1998. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] Biondo and Cassidy, who were in a romantic relationship for a time, formed the five-piece "Eva Cassidy Band" with Lenny Williams, Keith Grimes and Raice McLeod in 1990. They began to perform frequently in the Washington area.
In 1992, Biondo played a tape of Cassidy's voice for
Chuck Brown, the "Godfather of go-go". It resulted in the duet album "The Other Side" featuring performances of classic songs such as "Fever", "God Bless the Child" and what would later become Cassidy's signature tune "Over the Rainbow". The album was released and distributed in 1992 by Liaison Records, the label that also released Brown's Go-go albums. Brown originally intended to record a single duet with Cassidy for his next solo album, but this was postponed due to ongoing negotiations between Dale and other labels for a solo deal. [ [http://www.evacassidy.org/eva/citypaper.htm Side by Side] Alona Wartofsky, "Washington City Paper", November 20, 1992. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] Cassidy's unwillingness to narrow her stylistic focus to one genre hindered her chances of securing a deal. [ [http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,105719,00.html Over the Rainbow] Jeff Chu, "Time", April 9, 2001. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] [ [http://www.crosstownarts.com/CrosstownArts/client_music/eva/gift.html Eva Cassidy's Gift] Joan Anderman, "Boston Globe", January 31, 1999. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] After talks broke down, the two decided to record their own duet album. As a duo, they performed at Wolf Trap and the Columbia Arts Festival and opened for acts like Al Greenand The Neville Brothers.
In 1993, Cassidy was honored by the
Washington Area Music Associationwith a Wammie award for the "Vocalist Jazz/Traditional" category. [http://www.wamadc.com/wama/wammies/WAMI-abc-e-g.htm Wammie Winners] Washington Area Music Association. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] The next year she was invited to perform at the event and chose to sing "Over the Rainbow". A " Washington Times" review of the event called her performance "a show-stopper". [Wammies honor area musicians. "Washington Times". November 9, 1994.] She took home two Wammies that night, again for "Vocalist Jazz/Traditional" and also for "Roots Rock/Traditional R&B". For a brief period that year, Cassidy signed a deal with Blue Note Recordsto pair up with pop-jazz band Pieces of a Dream to release an album and tour the country. She sang two tracks in a mainly instrumental album. It was a musically unsatisfying experience for her.
After having a potential contract with
Apollo Recordscollapse when the label went bankrupt, Biondo and Dale decided that she should release her own live album. In January 1996, the material for " Live at Blues Alley" was recorded over a two-day period at Blues Alley, Washington, D.C. Due to a technical glitch on the first night of recording, [ [http://www.evacassidy.org/eva/gt.htm Eva Cassidy: "Oh, Had I a Golden Thread"] evacassidy.org. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] only the second night recording was usable. Unhappy with the way she sounded due to a cold, she was reluctant to release the album. Only after some persuasion did she relent, on the condition that the studio track "Oh, I had a Golden Thread" would be included in the release and that she be allowed to start working on a follow-up studio album. Her apprehension appeared unfounded as local reviewers and the public responded positively. In one of the first published news articles on Eva Cassidy, " The Washington Post" commented that "she could sing anything—folk, blues, pop, jazz, R&B, gospel—and make it sound like it was the only music that mattered". [http://evacassidy.org/eva/harr96.htm Echoes of a Voice Stilled Too Early] Richard Harrington, "The Washington Post", November 17, 1996. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] The subsequent studio album she worked on was released as " Eva by Heart" posthumously in 1997. In the liner notes of "Eva by Heart", critic Joel E. Siegeldescribed Cassidy as "one of the greatest voices of her generation".
In 1993, Cassidy had a malignant mole removed from her back. Three years later, during a promotional event for the "Live at Blues Alley" album in July 1996, Cassidy noticed an ache in her hips, which she attributed to stiffness from painting
murals while perched atop a stepladder. The pain persisted and a few weeks later, X-rays revealed that the melanomahad spread to her lungs and bones. The doctors gave her three to five months to live. Cassidy opted for aggressive treatment, but her health deteriorated rapidly. In her final public performance in September 1996, at the Bayou, she closed the set with " What a Wonderful World" in front of an audience of friends, fans and family. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A05EEDC133AF931A2575BC0A9649C8B63 In Death, A Shy Singer Finally Grabs The Spotlight; CD's Carry Eva Cassidy's Voice a Wider Audience] Alex Ward, "New York Times", August 12, 2002. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] She was subsequently admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Cassidy died at her family home in Bowie, November 2, 1996, at the age of 33. She was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Washington Area Music Association. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/19970109025159/www.crosstownarts.com/CrosstownArts/client_music/eva/evabio.html Eva Cassidy Biography] Washington Area Music Association. 1997. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] According to her wishes, Cassidy’s body was cremated. Her ashes were scattered on the shores of St. Mary's River Watershed Park, a nature reserve near California, Maryland.
After Cassidy's death, local folk singer
Grace Griffithintroduced the Blues Alley recording to Bill Straw from her label, Blix Street Records. Straw approached the Cassidy family to put together a new album. In 1998, a compilation of tracks from Cassidy's three released recordings was assembled into the CD "Songbird". This CD lingered in relative obscurity for two years until being given airplay by Terry Woganon his wide-reaching [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/entertainment/4211631.stm Wogan show draws record numbers] BBC News, January 27, 2005. Retrieved on March 17, 2008.] BBC Radio 2 show " Wake Up to Wogan", following recommendation by his producer Paul Walters. The album sold more than 100,000 copies in the following months. " The New York Times" spoke of her "silken soprano voice with a wide and seemingly effortless range, unerring pitch and a gift for phrasing that at times was heart-stoppingly eloquent".
Before Christmas of 2000, "Top Of The Pops 2" aired a video of Cassidy performing "
Over the Rainbow", which resulted in "Songbird" climbing steadily up the UK charts over the next few weeks. Just as ITV's " Tonight with Trevor McDonald" aired a feature on Cassidy, the album topped the chart. [Burley et al. p.155.] Shot at Blues Alley by a friend with a camcorder the same night the album was recorded, the black-and-white video became the most requested video ever shown on Top Of The Pops 2. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/southyorkshire/entertainment/music/interviews/2002/eva_cassidy.shtml Eva Cassidy's producer Chris Biondo talks to Toby Foster] "BBC Radio", July 2002. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] "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", wrote " The Guardian". [ [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/fridayreview/story/0,12102,823068,00.html Albums from the crypt] "The Guardian", November 1, 2002. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.]
"Songbird" has since achieved significant chart success throughout Europe and quadruple platinum status in the UK. Although still relatively unknown in the United States at that time, the album would eventually be certified gold over there. [ [http://www.riaa.com/newsitem.php?news_year_filter=&resultpage=76&id=182519BF-06DB-6DF5-F763-3555CDC1857A RIAA Gives Thanks For Strong Gold and Platinum Numbers In November] RIAA News Room. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] Sherri Dalphonse of Washingtonian.com writes, "Some may wonder if Cassidy's death at the age of 33 accounts for some of the popularity. No doubt her life story is part of it. But articles about her haven't boosted sales as much as when her songs are played on the BBC or NPR. Hearing about Eva Cassidy isn't as powerful as hearing her." [http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/people/6595.html Songbird] Sherri Dalphonse, "Washingtonian", May 1, 2001. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] Since "Songbird", several other CDs have been released: "Time After Time" (2000), "Imagine" (2002) and "American Tune" (2003).
In May 2001, ABC's "Nightline" in the United States broadcast a well-received [ [http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=128772&page=1 Nightline Daily Email: 7/2] Leroy Sievers. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] short documentary about Cassidy. Over the weekend, all five of Cassidy's albums occupied
Amazon.com's best sellers list top spots. [ [http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-trade/miscellaneous-retail-retail-stores-not/4399419-1.html 'Nightline' Boosts Cassidy] Bill Holland, "Billboard Bulletin", May 30, 2001. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] The Nightline episode has since been rebroadcast three times due to popular demand. [Rebroadcast on July 4, 2001 [http://abcnewsstore.go.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/DSIProductDisplay?catalogId=11002&storeId=20051&productId=2008174&langId=-1&categoryId=100041] , August 15, 2002 [http://abcnewsstore.go.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/DSIProductDisplay?catalogId=11002&storeId=20051&productId=2007243&langId=-1&categoryId=100041] and January 1, 2004 [http://abcnewsstore.go.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/DSIProductDisplay?catalogId=11002&storeId=20051&productId=2005433&langId=-1&categoryId=100030] ] Producer Leroy Sievershas said that it is "probably the most popular Nightline ever". [ [http://abcnewsstore.go.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/DSIProductDisplay?catalogId=11002&storeId=20051&productId=2005433&langId=-1&categoryId=100030 Nightline Daily E-Mail: January 2, 2004] , Leroy Sievers and the Nightline Staff, January 2, 2004] A rebroadcast of the "Tonight with Trevor McDonald" feature on Cassidy in Britain resulted in a similar sales surge. [ [http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-10348539_ITM The Official UK Albums Chart Top 75] "Music Week", August 25, 2001. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] Together with word of mouthand internet fansites, the role of online commerce has played a big part in Cassidy's success. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/24/arts/music/24topc.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print&oref=login Online, Eva Cassidy Trumps Elvis] Joel Topcik, "New York Times", July 24, 2004. Retrieved on March 14, 2008.] [Internet fuels singer's posthumous success. "The Deseret News", March 11, 2001.] [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2002/apr/04/internetnews.onlinesupplement2 Keeping the flame] Mike Anderiesz, "The Guardian", April 4, 2002. Retrieved on March 14, 2008.] This point was further affirmed when in 2005, Amazon.com released a list of its top 25 best-selling musicians, which placed Cassidy in 5th position, behind The Beatles, U2, Norah Jonesand Diana Krall. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2005_July_11/ai_n14731632 Amazon.com Inducts 25 Musicians into Hall of Fame] "Business Wire", July 11, 2005. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.]
In 2004, during the gala opening of the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts, the Bowie Regional Arts Vision Association, Inc. (BRAVA) dedicated the Star's Dressing Room to Eva. Following a moving tribute to Eva, Chuck Brown took to the stage and performed his duet "with" Eva as her photos and video appeared in the background.
A collection of previously unreleased studio recordings from 1987 to 1991, was released in 2000 as "No Boundaries". This release was not endorsed by the Cassidy family and was released under a different label. An
allmusicreview of the album stated that even "a gifted vocalist like Eva Cassidy can only do so much with bad material". [ [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:ysm1z87a2yvo~T1 Review of No Boundaries] William Cooper, "allmusic". Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] In 2002, the self titled 1988 album by the band Method Actor, which Cassidy sang for, was re-released by the band's guitarist and producer David Lourim. Cassidy's name was featured prominently on the cover, which led to the Cassidy family and Blix Street Records filing a lawsuit against Lourim, [ [http://www.mdd.uscourts.gov/Opinions152/Opinions/Cassidy031904.pdf Hugh Cassidy, et al. v. David Lourim, et al.] (PDF) United States district court for the district of Maryland. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] claiming that Cassidy's name was used in a misleading fashion. Eventually the cover was changed to look like the original LP album. [ [http://www.evacassidy.org/eva/methodactor.htm Method Actor] evacassidy.org. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.]
In popular media
In 2001, a book entitled "Songbird: Eva Cassidy: Her Story By Those Who Knew Her", on the life and work of Cassidy based on interviews with close family and associates was released in the UK. The hardcover edition has since sold in excess of 100,000 copies. A U.S. edition published by Gotham Books was released in late 2003 and includes two additional chapters on her influences and success in the US. Her life story has also been adapted into a musical [ [http://www.granthamjournal.co.uk/leisure/Musical-charts-life-of-songstress.3875566.jp Musical charts life of songstress Eva Cassidy] "Grantham Journal", March 13, 2008. Retrieved March 17, 2008] and also a Broadway piece for cancer benefit. [ [http://www.broadwayworld.com/viewcolumn.cfm?colid=2042 Eva Cassidy Remembered] "Broadwayworld.com", January 26, 2005. Retrieved March 17, 2008]
2002 Winter Olympicsgala, and later on tour, figure skater Michelle Kwanbrought Cassidy's music to a new audience when she skated to a recording of "Fields of Gold". Kwan's part in exposing the music of Cassidy to the international and American public led Cassidy's label to present her a gold record from the certification of "Songbird". [ [http://heatherw.com/mk/other/evapress.htm Blix Street Records Presents Kwan with Gold Record for Cassidy's 'Songbird' Album] Press release. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] Subsequently, other figure skaters such as Kristi Yamaguchi, Sarah Hughesand Kimmie Meissnerhave used Cassidy's music in their routines.
Katie Meluais a keen fan of Cassidy. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/3519024.stm Review: Katie Melua in concert] Neil Smith, "BBC News Online", March 17, 2004. Retrieved March 17, 2008.] Her debut album " Call off the Search" contained the song "Faraway Voice", written in Cassidy's memory. Melua has also performed Cassidy's arrangement of "Anniversary Song" in concert. On Christmas Eve 2006, she performed alongside video footage of Cassidy singing "Over The Rainbow" on BBC One's "Duet Impossible". [ [http://www.steve-smith.tv/Steve%20Smith/Duet%20Impossible.html BBC Duet Impossible] "steve-smith.tv". Retrieved on March 18, 2008 ] One year later, Cassidy's " What A Wonderful World" was spliced together with new vocals by Melua and released as a single exclusively at the British retail chain Tesco. It debuted at #1 on the UK Singles chart on December 16. All profits from the single went to the British Red Cross. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7140478.stm Melua duet headed for number one] "BBC News", December 12, 2007. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] Irish singer Chris de Burghhas stated that his song "Songbird" from his album "The Road to Freedom" was written in honour of Cassidy. Singer Mary Chapin Carpentermade reference to Cassidy in the song "My Heaven" on the album " Between Here and Gone": "More memories than my heart can hold, when Eva's singing 'Fields of Gold'."
The first film to feature an Eva Cassidy's recording was "Flight of Fancy" starring "
Dean Cain". Since then her music has appeared in various film and tv series including the comedy " Joe Somebody", " Love Actually", " Maid in Manhattan", " The Man From Elysian Fields", " Alpha Dog" and "Smallville". Cassidy's arrangement of "Over the Rainbow" is a popular cover choice by singing competition contestants, with " American Idol" season 5 runner-up Katharine McPheeand "The X Factor" season 3 winner Leona Lewisamong the numbers. Her interpretation of " Imagine" has been performed by "American Idol" season 7 runner-up David Archuleta.
Possibility of future film
In late 2007, AIR Productions acquired the rights to produce a film based on Cassidy's life. [http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071125/GPG05/711250646/1261/GPG05 Sheboygan native receives leadership award] Warren Gerds, "Green Bay Press-Gazette", November 25, 2007. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] It is being produced by Amy Redford (daughter of
Robert Redford), Irwin Shapiro and Rick Singer. [http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117977583.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2562 Eva Cassidy biopic in the works.] , Michael Fleming, "Variety", December 7, 2007. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.] In an interview a year earlier, Cassidy's parents suggested Kirsten Dunstor Emily Watsonas possible actresses who could play their daughter. [ [http://www.nbc4.com/entertainment/10227265/detail.html Local Singer's Career Takes Off After Death, Eva Cassidy's Story To Be Told In Hollywood] "nbc4.com", November 2, 2006. Retrieved on March 6, 2008.]
*"Eva Cassidy Sings" (2004) – A single-camera video recorded at Blues Alley the same nights as the live album in January 1996.
*cite book | author=Rob Burley| coauthors=Jonathan Maitland, Elana Rhodes Byrd | title=Eva Cassidy: Songbird: Her Story by Those Who Knew Her | publisher=
Gotham Books| year=2003 | isbn=978-1592400355
* [http://www.evacassidy.org Eva Cassidy website] maintained by her cousin, Laura Claire Bligh
* [http://www.evacassidy.com Eva Cassidy Artwork website]
* [http://www.evacassidy.dk/ Evasongs] recordings information
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=aIl4HqLYCo4C Eva Cassidy: Songbird: Her Story by Those Who Knew Her] at
Google Book Search
*Youtube|eUwTdqPkluY|Over the Rainbow - Eva plays live, recorded on a friend's video camera - became the most requested video ever shown on Top Of The Pops 2.
*YouTube | id=pYXlpvRKf8s | title=Tears in Heaven - "
Mary Ann Redmond& Eva Cassidy singing Eric Clapton's " Tears in Heaven" - From a 1995 performance at Fleetwood's in Alexandria, VA.
*Youtube|zL4ETayvL-4|Over the Rainbow - The Eva Cassidy Story - Promotional video for the musical starring
Faye Tozeras Eva Cassidy
NAME = Cassidy, Eva Marie
ALTERNATIVE NAMES =
SHORT DESCRIPTION = American singer
DATE OF BIRTH = February 2, 1963
PLACE OF BIRTH =
Washington, D.C., United States
DATE OF DEATH = November 2, 1996
PLACE OF DEATH = Bowie,
Maryland, United States
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