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Eva Cassidy

The heart-tugging story of Eva Cassidy reads almost like the plot of a "Movie of the Week" tearjerker. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, the painfully shy Cassidy earned a local reputation as a masterful interpreter of standards from virtually any genre, blessed with technical agility and a searching passion that cut straight to the emotional core of her material. Despite the evocative instrument that was Cassidy's voice, record companies shied away from her, unsure of how to market her eclectic repertoire; for her part, Cassidy adamantly refused to allow herself to be pigeonholed, prizing the music above any potential fame. In 1996, just when she had begun to record more frequently on a small, local basis, Cassidy was diagnosed with cancer, which had already spread throughout her body and rapidly claimed her life. But her story didn't end there; her music was posthumously championed by a BBC disc jockey, and amazingly, the anthology Songbird became a number one million-selling smash in England.

Cassidy was born February 2, 1963, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, and grew up (from age nine on) in Bowie, Maryland. She loved music from an early age, particularly folk and jazz (as a girl, her favorite singer was Buffy Sainte-Marie), and learned guitar from her father Hugh. At one point, Hugh put together a family folk act featuring himself on bass, Eva on guitar and vocals, and her brother Danny on fiddle; Eva and Danny also played country music at a local amusement park, but Eva's sensitivity eventually made performances too difficult on her. Something of a loner during her teens, Cassidy sang with a pop/rock band called Stonehenge while in high school. After graduating, she studied art for a short time, but soon grew dissatisfied with what she was being taught, and dropped out to work at a plant nursery. She sang occasional backing vocals for friends' rock bands around Bowie and Annapolis, but was never comfortable trying to overpower the amplification. In 1986, longtime friend Dave Lourim persuaded Cassidy to lay down some vocals at a recording session for his soft pop/rock group Method Actor. (The results were eventually reissued in 2002.) At the studio, Cassidy met D.C.-area producer Chris Biondo, who was immediately struck by her voice and agreed to help her put together a demo tape she hoped would get her more backup-singing work.

Cassidy became a regular presence at Biondo's studio, where he recorded a wide variety of music; incongruously enough, Cassidy performed backing vocals on D.C. go-go funksters E.U.'s Livin' Large album (singing all of her own harmony parts to give the illusion of a choir) and, later, on gangsta rapper E-40's "I Wanna Thank You." At Biondo's urging, Cassidy formed a backing band to play local clubs, where her singing began to win a following in spite of her discomfort. In 1991, Biondo played Cassidy's demos for Chuck Brown, the originator of D.C.'s swinging go-go funk sound (which never really broke out to a national audience). Brown had been wanting to record an album of jazz and blues standards, and found his ideal duet partner in the sophisticated yet soulful Cassidy. Their collaborative album, The Other Side, was released in late 1992, and in 1993, the two began performing around the D.C. area together; helped by Brown's outgoing showmanship, Cassidy finally began to lose some of the insecurity and intense fear that usually kept her away from live performance. Several record labels showed interest in signing her, but her recorded submissions always covered too much ground -- folk, jazz, blues, gospel, R&B, pop/rock -- for the marketing department's taste (or limited imaginations), and the labels always wound up passing.

In September 1993, Cassidy had a malignant mole removed from below her neck and neglected her subsequent checkup appointments. Shortly thereafter, she broke up with Biondo, who'd been her boyfriend for several years, but they continued their professional relationship. In early 1994, the Blue Note label showed some interest in teaming Cassidy with a jazz-pop outfit from Philadelphia called Pieces of a Dream; they recorded the single "Goodbye Manhattan" together, and Cassidy toured with them that summer, but didn't really care for their style. She returned to D.C. and began playing more gigs on her own, though she still made the occasional appearance with Brown. At the end of the year, she won a local music award for traditional jazz vocals.

Cassidy remained unable to secure a record deal, and Biondo and her frustrated manager decided to put out an album themselves. In January 1996, Cassidy played two gigs at the D.C. club Blues Alley; despite her dissatisfaction with the quality of her performance, the album Live at Blues Alley was compiled from the recordings and released that year to much acclaim in the D.C. area. Sadly, it would be the only solo album to appear during Cassidy's lifetime. She moved to Annapolis and took a job painting murals at elementary schools; during the summer, she began experiencing problems with her hip, which she assumed was related to her frequent use of stepladders at work. However, X-rays revealed that her hip was broken, and further tests showed that the melanoma from several years before had spread to her lungs and bones. Cassidy started chemotherapy, but it was simply too late. A benefit show in her honor was staged in September, and Cassidy found the strength to give her last performance there, singing "What a Wonderful World." She died on November 2, 1996. Cassidy virtually swept that year's Washington Area Music Awards, and the album she'd been working on with Biondo prior to her death, Eva by Heart, was released by Liaison in 1997.

D.C.-based Celtic folk singer Grace Griffith finally found some interest in releasing Cassidy's music at the label she recorded for, Blix Street. 1998's Songbird was a compilation culled from Cassidy's three previous releases, and when BBC Radio 2 disc jockey Terry Wogan started playing the version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," Songbird started to sell in the U.K. The British TV show Top of the Pops aired a home-video clip of Cassidy performing the song, quite intensely, at the Blues Alley, and were deluged with requests for further broadcasts. Thanks to all the exposure, Songbird steadily grew into a major hit, climbing all the way to the top of the British album charts and selling over a million copies. In 2000, Blix Street followed Songbird with Time After Time, a set of 12 previously unreleased tracks (eight studio, four live) that proved an important addition to Cassidy's slim recorded legacy. The same year saw the appearance of No Boundaries, an unrepresentative set of adult contemporary pop released by the Renata label over strenuous objections from Cassidy's family. Subsequent collections like Wonderful World (2004) and Simply Eva (2011) included more studio demos and live recordings, further cementing Cassidy's posthumous reputation, along with 2012's The Best of Eva Cassidy and 2015’s expanded and remastered edition of Nightbird, a collection of all 31 songs that Cassidy performed at the Blues Alley in 1996. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Download Collection

2. Wade In The Water

3. Autumn Leaves

4. People Get Ready

5. Songbird

6. True Colors

7. Over The Rainbow

8. Fields Of Gold

9. Time After Time

10. You Take My Breath Away

11. Ain’t No Sunshine

12. Imagine


Track List: The Best Of Eva Cassidy

1. You Take My Breath Away

2. Kathy's Song

3. Songbird

4. What A Wonderful World

5. Wade In The Water

6. Ain't No Sunshine

7. Time After Time

8. Autumn Leaves

9. I Can Only Be Me

10. Fields Of Gold

11. It Doesn't Matter Anymore

12. Imagine

13. Over The Rainbow

14. True Colors

15. Danny Boy

16. People Get Ready

17. Anniversary Song

18. Early Morning Rain

19. I Know You By Heart

20. Tall Trees In Georgia


Track List: Simply Eva

1. Songbird

2. Wayfaring Stranger

3. People Get Ready

4. True Colors

5. Who Knows Where The Time Goes

6. Over The Rainbow

7. Kathy's Song

8. San Francisco Bay Blues

9. Wade In The Water

10. Time After Time

11. Autumn Leaves

12. I Know You By Heart


Track List: Somewhere

1. Coat Of Many Colors

2. My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose

3. Ain't Doin' Too Bad

4. Chain Of Fools

5. Won't Be Long

6. Walkin' After Midnight

7. Early One Morning

8. A Bold Young Farmer

9. If I Give My Heart

10. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain

11. Summertime (Album Version)

12. Somewhere (Album Version)


Track List: Wonderful World

1. What A Wonderful World

2. Kathy's Song

3. Say Goodbye

4. Anniversary Song

5. How Can I Keep From Singing? (Live)

6. You Take My Breath Away

7. Drowning In The Sea Of Love

8. Penny To My Name

9. You've Changed

10. It Doesn't Matter Anymore

11. Waly Waly


Track List: American Tune

1. Drowning In The Sea Of Love

2. True Colours

3. The Water Is Wide

4. Hallelujah, I Love Him So

5. God Bless The Child

6. Dark Eyed Molly

7. American Tune

8. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)

9. Yesterday

10. You Take My Breath Away


Track List: Imagine

1. It Doesn't Matter Anymore

2. Fever

3. Who Knows Where The Time Goes

4. You've Changed

5. Imagine

6. Still Not Ready

7. Early Morning Rain

8. Tennesssee Waltz

9. I Can Only Be Me

10. Danny Boy


Track List: Time After Time

1. Kathy's Song

2. Ain't No Sunshine

3. The Letter

4. At Last

5. Time After Time

6. Penny To My Name

7. I Wandered By A Brookside

8. I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again

9. Easy Street Dream

10. Anniversary Song

11. Woodstock

12. Way Beyond The Blue


Track List: Songbird

1. Fields Of Gold

2. Wade In The Water

3. Autumn Leaves (Live)

4. Wayfaring Stranger

5. Songbird

6. Time Is A Healer

7. I Know You By Heart

8. People Get Ready (Live)

9. Oh, Had I A Golden Thread

10. Over The Rainbow


Track List: Live At Blues Alley

1. Cheek To Cheek (Live 1996)

2. Stormy Monday (Live 1996)

3. Bridge Over Troubled Water (Live 1996)

4. Fine And Mellow (Live 1996)

5. People Get Ready (Live 1996)

6. Blue Skies (Live 1996)

7. Tall Trees In Georgia (Live 1996)

8. Fields Of Gold (Live 1996)

9. Autumn Leaves (Live 1996)

10. Honeysuckle Rose (Live 1996)

11. Take Me To The River (Live 1996)

12. What A Wonderful World (Live 1996)

13. Oh, Had I A Golden Thread (Live 1996)


Track List: Eva By Heart

1. I Know You By Heart

2. Time Is A Healer

3. Wayfaring Stranger

4. Wade In The Water

5. Blues In The Night

6. Songbird

7. Need Your Love So Bad (Duet With Chuck Brown)

8. Say Goodbye

9. Nightbird

10. Waly Waly

11. How Can I Keep From Singing?


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Marvelous control,phra s i n g spectacular, p e r f e c t i o n personified! ! !
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doug.ballard 8 2
Eva was without a doubt an angel in disguise. She has the voice and control of an angel for sure. I've never heard anyone tug more life out of these standards. Her lightness and unanticipate d phrasing makes your heart beg for more. Alas, we have what she have and are thankful to God for her life and music. See you in heaven someday Eva!
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Rest in Peace, Eva! Sometimes, You take My Breath Away. A song of peace and love, what the world needs
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What a beautiful voice some day will be able to see her singing up in Heaven to God our Father. That would truly be an awesome day.
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We will walk in fields of Gold.....mis s you mama and daddy so much. One day we will.....
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This is no place for politics so matter how messed up they are! I never get tired of listening to Eva voice.
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At 82 still never gets tired of her voice.!
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A beautiful voice, taken for this world far to soon.
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I am happy and sad when I listen to Eva's voice. Happy because she recorded her beautiful voice sad because I can not here more of it.
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Yes I agree you was taken from us far to young, I guess God needed an Angel to sing to him!!!!
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This song brings out the beautiful tremolo in her voice.
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Eva only lived to be 33
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My favorite singer. Beautiful! Gone too soon.
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Now she is singing up in Heaven to God the Father.
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I love her amazing voice very much!!!!!
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A beautiful and immensely talented singer... her fate makes it hard for me to listen to her on such frequent rotation...
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There is an emptiness in this world that can be filled only by Eva. Thank God she lives on in her music.
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Seldom in our lifetimes does pure genius of art emerge. Eva flashed there like a firefly on a gentle June evening. We are blesses indeed.
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I sent my best friend in WA all of Eva's albums one year for her birthday. I hope she enjoyed them as much as I did. She is now in Heaven with Eva. RIP Pam. 11-5-49 - 3-23-16
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I love her voice. Seems like they just play the one (beautiful) song, though...
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She touches my soul. I have to stop and listen when I hear her music
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She is still like breath of fresh air!
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Incredible voice...incr e d i b l e music. Wish I found her sooner
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So very very special.
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You break my heart everytime I hear you sing.....
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Why you left we'll never understand today
-- the love will remain for tomorrow and today
Love Eva
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Tear to the eye, tear to the eye. Heaven to hold...
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Perfection.. . S e n d s chills up my spine
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You always make me cry. Thank you. Love.
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Your voice will live forever.
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She never get OLD!
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Totally agree with bklecs... such a poignant voice.
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Her song came on while driving. I was impressed with her range and feeling of being soulful without trying. The song I heard told me she was a I feel it singer. When she gets a song she possesses it. I'm sorry we can't see you in concert.. I bet her voice reflects who she is/was.
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Her story always makes me sad...such a powerhouse of a woman, lost too soon.
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I cannot believe any record company didn't jump to pick her up. I swear she has the sweetest and strongest voice I think I've ever heard. She can sing a love song so well.....res t well Eva....God, we sure did miss out on your brilliance.
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Beautiful, angelic voice....... . . .
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Eva's voice was heaven sent, and there will never be another as pure.
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Noone will ever replace Eva.
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bernadette66 4
Eva went far too soon, but she left the legacy of her beautiful voice. What a talent. I have every one of her CDs and no matter how often I listen to them, I still get goose bumps every time I hear her voice. Eva, you are sadly missed, but those of us who have heard you will not forget you.
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Too sad she wasn't noticed and capitalized on until she died!
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Just as good as Paul Simons version!
She was amazing!!!!! ! !
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Eva, your music is true beauty! Even though you were gone too soon, you have not been forgotten.
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Amazing voice! So glad I heard her on Pandora.
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The best rendition of "Over the Rainbow." Ever. Gone too soon.
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straight to the heart...tend e r , beautiful... t i m e l e s s . . . .
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Beautiful heartbreakin g rendition of "Over The Rainbow", even more heartbreakin g considering her untimely death
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I thought her version of Fields of Gold was even better than Sting. I thought it was filled with emotion and life. I guess we all have our opinions, but don't be cruel. The lady is gone.
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