She's been called "the greatest posthumous success story in music history." But when she died of melanoma at age 33, few people outside of the Washington DC-area had heard of Eva Marie Cassidy
Eva Cassidy’s specialty was cover interpretations of ballads
and pop classics
. At the time of her death in November, 1996
, she was virtually unknown outside of Washington DC, and had never signed a contract with a label. She'd played small, sometimes half-empty clubs and sold tapes of her music out of the trunk of her car. But the intensely shy young session vocalist, largely self-taught guitarist and keyboardist had
released two albums: one recorded in a studio
, and another of a live performance
recorded in January 1996. She also left behind many audio recordings which her friends shared with each other in her memory. A compilation CD, Songbird
was released into relative obscurity in 1997, but slowly gained an underground popularity as alternative radio station dj’s across the country discovered and played her music on the air.
Three years after her death, at the recommendation of one of his producers, BBC Radio 2 host Terry Wogan played Cassidy's "Over the Rainbow"
on air during his show "Wake Up To Wogan
" without listening to it.
At the time, the show had seven million listeners and their response was overwhelming. Four years after its release, in March 2001, Songbird
topped the charts in the UK and three songs from the album would go on to become number ones. Since then a number of Cassidy albums have been released posthumously worldwide and her music has been discovered by millions. As of 2008, more than 8 million copies of Cassidy's CDs had been sold; her recordings had gone quadruple platinum in England and platinum in the U.S.
* BBC documentary from March 2001 on Youtube: Part One
, Part Two
, Part Three (Quality is not great on these clips)
* ABC’s Nightline: Over the Rainbow
. Segment is an excellent, touching introduction to her life and music.
* Google has a limited preview of the book Songbird: Eva Cassidy: Her Story By Those Who Knew Her
(2001) which was based on interviews with her friends and family.
* Her cousin Leigh Bligh runs EvaCassidy.org
, which showcases Eva’s life and work in great, loving detail. See: Interviews
* Tears in Heaven (Performed with Mary Ann Redmond at Fleetwoods in 1995. That's Mick Fleetwood on the drums, Eva Cassidy Band member Lenny Williams on piano and Eva's friend and frequent accompanist Chris Biondi on bass.) The audio recording has a neat story -- Vicky Williams, ex-wife of Lenny Williams found it on a moldy tape in her garage.
"So many of Eva Cassidy's favorite songs, Over the Rainbow, Bridge Over Troubled Water, People Get Ready...
were about how it isn't over when it's over. That death doesn't always get the last word.
It turns out that wasn't just her songs. It was her story." ~ Nightline