Eva Cassidy was an American vocalist and guitarist who, despite her incredible talent, passed away before achieving fame. Eva died at the young age of 33 from melanoma, leaving behind 2 albums full of magical music for the world to enjoy.
Have you ever heard of her? We love her story and her one-of-a-kind, unforgettable voice. Her soulful renditions of jazz, blues, folk, pop, gospel, and country songs reinvent and inspire. Some of our favorites: “What a Wonderful World”, “Time after Time”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Autumn Leaves”, and “Imagine”.
Born in 1963, Eva grew up in the Washington DC area and began singing and playing the guitar at age 9. Although she was very shy, she had joined her first band by age 11 and continued to play with various groups during her teenage years. Eva became known locally by playing gigs around DC and at age 29, she began collaborating with musician Chuck Brown, with whom she recorded her first album in 1992. For the next few years, she struggled to find the right record company to work with- many say because she refused to be pigeonholed. Finally, in 1996, she decided to record her own, live album. Many of the amazing videos below and the one above are from that live recording. While promoting this album in July, she noticed an ache in her hips and went to the doctor. She discovered that a malignant mole that she’d had removed a few years earlier hadn’t gotten rid of the cancer from her body. It had spread to her lungs and bones. Sadly, just 4 months later, she passed away.
After her death, a local folk singer shared Eva’s music with her own music label. Along with Eva’s family, they produced a CD, Songbird, compiling her recordings. Not long after, a producer in the UK heard her version of “Over the Rainbow” and played it for his radio audience of almost 700 million listeners. Slowly but surely, her music was spreading! 2 years later, a producer working for the weekly UK music show “Top of the Pops” searched for and successfully found the last remaining footage of Eva. It’s from her live, recorded performance at Blues Alley in Washington DC. He aired her “Over the Rainbow” and had an immediate flood of viewers wanting to hear more. Her Songbird album quickly climbed the charts in the UK, gaining her influential fans such as Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. The once unknown artist soon gained worldwide recognition in the most organic fashion- through her raw, unpackaged talent.
In 2001, ABC’s Nightline broadcasted a short documentary about the life of Eva Cassidy. It’s only 18 minutes long and well-worth watching!
So just how far has her music spread since? In 2005, Amazon.com placed Eva fifth in their list of its “25 Best-Selling Musicians”, standing just behind The Beatles, U2, Norah Jones, and Diana Krall. If you search for her on YouTube, you’ll find a wealth of phenomenal music and millions of fans expressing their adoration for her.
Please share Eva’s music and her moving story. In the documentary, her friend says this of Eva’s shyness: “She was afraid… of what fame would do to her… and I have to kind of laugh because this is the way I think Eva would have loved it. Everybody else does the talking for her….all she does is sing”.
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