Remembering Eva Cassidy: February 2, 1963 – November 2, 1996

EvaCassidy“I really like to create the sound of a choir the most. If you could see what the sound of it looks like when I shut my eyes and listen, you’d see the sound as angels spanning across the universe.”
~ Eva Cassidy

Eva Cassidy had the voice of an angel. Her voice could have melted the heart of the meanest James Bond villain. Alone, strumming her acoustic guitar, she was as powerful as Aretha Franklin or even Adele with her highly polished and produced hits. She was shy, a painter and a cartoonist and so, as they say, gifted. Gifted more than she knew or more than she was recognized for while she was alive.

At the time of her death, Cassidy had only released one record, ‘Live at Blues Alley’ where she put her own beautiful ,almost sorrowful, twist on classics like Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine, ” Sting’s “Field’s of Gold,” and Christie McVie’s “Songbird.” Four more records, mostly cover songs, have since been released.

I have been listening to Eva since that first record, but only because I lived in Washington, DC when she was playing gigs. She was a local hit in the quiet Georgetown clubs, the Bayou and Blues Alley. The rest of the world wasn’t introduced to her extraordinary gift until years later when her rendition of “Over the Rainbow” was played on a BBC Radio show. And in 2011, Nightline did a short documentary about her life. That following weekend, all five of Eva’s albums were on Amazon.com’s best seller list.

In 2005, Amazon released a list of its top 25 best-selling musicians, which placed Cassidy in fifth position, behind The Beatles, U2, Norah Jones and Diana Krall. Since her death, she has sold tens of millions of recordings around the world.

In 1996, three years after a malignant mole was removed from her back, the same year as the release of her first record, cancer was discovered in Eva’s lungs and bones; she was given three-five months to live. She made her final appearance at her own benefit concert performing to family, friends and lucky fans. Sshe closed the set with “What A Wonderful World.” Despite aggressive treatment, Eva died in November of 1996, age 33, never seeing the peak of her success.

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