O'Keefe once observed, "Singing has always
seemed to me the most perfect means of expression.
It is so spontaneous. And after singing, I think
the violin. Since I cannot sing, I paint."
Unlike O'Keefe, one of her idols, Eva Cassidy never
had to make a choice. Her talents as singer, instrumentalist
and visual artist are radiantly evident on Eva By
Heart, the legacy of a woman who brought beauty
to the eyes, ears and hearts of everyone she encountered.
deeply though unconventionally spiritual person,
she viewed her talent as a gift and an obligation.
Clearly, she inherited a predisposition for creative
expression from her parents. Her father, Hugh, who
taught special education at Prince George's County,
Maryland, public schools, is a bassist, cellist,
and sculptor. Her mother Barbara, the couple met
in Germany in 1960, comes from a family of craftsmen
and decorators. When Eva, born in 1963, began drawing
at 2 and 1/2, her sensitivity to form and color
were immediately apparent. At 9, she became serious
about music, singing and practicing guitar hour
after hour. Hugh taught her the rudiments of guitar
technique, introduced her to folk music, Buffy St.
Marie, Josh White, Pete Seeger, and formed a family
ensemble that combined four-part vocal harmony with
his bass, Eva's guitar, and her brother Dan's violin.
(A highly accomplished fiddler, Dan, who plays on
the opening and closing tracks of this CD, now lives
in Iceland and performs throughout Europe.)
her teens, Eva sang and played with a pop group,
Stonehenge, and spent a summer performing six shows
daily with Dan as part of a country band at Wild
World, a local theme park. On weekends, she bicycled
from Old Town Alexandria to the museums on Washington
D.C.'s Mall to study the works of Vermeer, Van Gogh
and other favorite painters. After high school,
she enrolled in art classes at Prince George's Community
College but was frustrated by the instruction she
received. ("I'm not learning anything,"
she complained to her mother. "The skills of
the old masters are being lost.") Abandoning
her studies, she worked as a plant propagator at
a nursery, a job that engaged her love of nature.
Each October, she and a bicycling friend camped
out on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. "Nature
was her soul," recalls her friend Ruth Murphy,
the mother of a newborn daughter named Cassidy.
"She respected and nurtured everything that
grows, crawls and flies, even worms and slugs."
was a complex person, painfully shy, vulnerable
to criticism and subject to seasonal depressions,
yet opinionated and stubborn, unyielding in her
personal values and artistic principles. She loved
solitude, bicycling, movies and Cheetos, hated high
school, dresses, aggressive drivers and the exploitation
of women in advertising and television. She was
obsessive about her art projects, painting, drawing,
sculpting, designing jewelry, and decorating furniture
and clock faces. Extremely self-conscious, she had
little interest in pursuing a professional career
in art or music, preferring to surround herself
with supportive friends who served as her advocates.
She had few possessions and modest goals; sometimes
she spoke of wanting to live in a cottage by the
ocean, and no sense of money. She didn't have a
checking account until she was 30, and worried that
material success would threaten her identity. Battling
the melanoma that took her life at 33, she told
her mother "All I want to do when I get well
is sing and travel around with my music"