Four Biographies

Date of Birth: 
February 2, 1963


November 2, 1996

Place of Birth:
Washington, D.C.


Songbird: The Book


American Tune


Time After Time

No Boundaries

The Spirit Of Christmas


Eva By Heart

Live At Blues Alley

The Other Side

Method Actor

The Most Beautiful Voice You Will Ever Hear
Eva Cassidy

Four Biographies Of Eva Cassidy

Oaksite Biography

A Songbird By Heart

Ask Men Biography

Eva By Heart

Oaksite Biography

Eva Cassidy was born on February 2, 1963. Growing up in a musical family on the outskirts of Washington, DC, she sang as a small child and later learned to play the guitar. Even then as a child she had an amazing gift for perfect harmony, and on family outings, she would sing, harmonising perfectly with the music from the car radio. Her father, a teacher of children with learning disabilities and a part-time musician, formed a family band with Eva, her brother Danny, on violin, and himself on bass. She endured school, preferring her own company and, whenever possible, being involved with music and painting.

In 1986 she did the art work for a projected album by a band, Method Actor, led by a friend, Dave Lourim. She was asked to sing on the album and was heard by producer Chris Biondo who, impressed by her raw talent, encouraged her and introduced her to other musicians. Cassidy appeared on several albums as a backing singer, including E-40's I Wanna Thank You. Meantime, Biondo was stockpiling tapes by Cassidy and in 1991, while recording Chuck Brown And The Soul Searchers, played examples for the group's leader. Brown was immediately taken with her sound, as indeed would be other artists including Roberta Flack and Shirley Horn, and in 1992 Eva and Chuck recorded The Other Side (Liaison).

Early the following year Chuck Brown and Eva Cassidy began performing live, including an appearance at Washington's Blues Alley. The collaboration with Chuck Brown was one which Eva would value very highly. They performed well together. seem to blend instinctively, and they respected and admired each other as artists.

Later in the year, following a medical check-up, Eva Cassidy had outpatient surgery for a malignant skin lesion on her back. Early in 1994 she recorded for Blue Note Records and toured with the group Pieces Of A Dream, but, unlike the sessions with Brown, she found this musically unsatisfying. In January 1996 she appeared at Blues Alley again, a session that was recorded, but when summer came she was unwell. Eva had been experiencing pain in her hip for some time. At the time she was working for a friend in Annapolis on murals in schools cafeterias, and she put the soreness down to too much ladder work. Eventually Eva had a number of tests. Although cancer was suspected, only after several more tests, was the diagnosis confirmed: advanced melanoma. She was told that she had three to five months to live.

Eva was admitted to Johns Hopkins hospital. A constant stream of friends kept coming, bringing her fruit and flowers. She felt badly that these were going to waste, so she asked someone to bring in paper and crayons. Often she could not see her visitors because of the regimen she had, so this way she helped her visitors to express themselves to her. When one stepped off the elevator and saw the hallways lined with people sitting on the floor colouring, talking and getting to know each other; it was a wonderful scene to behold. Eva had every picture hung on the big wall at the end of her bed so she could see them.

In September a tribute concert was organised. It was a moving occasion for all. There were different artists playing all night. Eva Cassidy came out with Chuck Brown at the end. They chose "Red Top" for her, so she wouldn't have to sing much. He covered her with his animated style, letting her just stand and join in. It was a warm partnership in song. But then she had someone bring her a stool, and sat down to play and sing, "What A Wonderful World". It was amazing that she pulled together all that strength to do the number- and of course all who knew her were all stunned. That was the last song Eva Cassidy sang in public. It was one of those times that those who were there, will never forget. After the concert Eva had a couple of hundred 'thank you' cards made. She made a little drawing for it, a heart-shaped smiling face. When friends would visit later, they would find her bent over her pen, handwriting notes on all the cards. She had very little energy and stamina to sit, but she used that time to thank people.

On her Brother Danny's last visit shortly before Eva passed away, he recorded the violin track for " I know You By Heart". Later her father, brother and friends played a concert for her outside her bedroom window.

Eva Cassidy died on 2nd November 1996. She was only 33 years old.

The memorial service later that month was in Greenbelt park, Maryland with the sun shining. It was as Eva would have wanted. Her brother played the violin. Friends sang. Over four hundred people came. A most wonderful voice had been stilled. Yet as Sian and Peter Charlton say so beautifully in their wonderful Welsh tribute to Eva:
'Sibrwd yn yr Yd' (a Whisper in the Corn)


Rhywle dal i ganu.

Rwy'n dy glywed yn y glaw

Awen di-ben-draw

Sibrwd yn yr yd

Canu o hyd


Singing - somewhere still singing.

I can hear you in the rain

A never ending inspiration

A whisper in the corn - still singing

Eva's singing voice was a crystalline soprano, ideal for the ballads and folk songs she performed. But she also had tremendous power and when she turned to soul and gospel-flavoured material her voice resounded with emotional sincerity. Her repertoire drew from all these areas and from the more melodic aspects of contemporary pop. While she might be placed only on the edges of jazz her conviction and integrity would often ably carry her over the hazy boundary. The excellent interpretation of Sting 's 'Fields Of Gold', on 'Live At Blues Alley' and (minus the applause) on the compilation album 'Songbird', is breathtaking in clarity and delivery, and ofcourse her now famous interpretation of "Over The Rainbow".

Most of her recorded work displays a remarkable and unspoiled talent, and almost all of it has been released posthumously. Although Eva Cassidy did go to art school, she never had any formal voice training.

In Britain Eva's music can be heard regularly on many radio stations, but specially on BBC Radio 2 during the 'Wake up to Wogan' show.

The 'Toggs' (Terry's old geezers and gals' as he likes to call them), have had the pleasure of listening to her wonderful voice many times. Thankfully she is a favourite with Terry and Paul, the program's producer. Terry called her once 'the late but mighty Eva Cassidy'. Chances are, that you have heard this remarkable artist yourself, even if you did not catch the name at the time.

When you read and hear about Eva Cassidy the person, the artist, read her story, you soon begin to understand why so many people think she was very special indeed. Not only as an artist, but also as a person. This from an article by Joel E. Siegel:

Eva was a complex person, painfully shy, vulnerable to criticism and subject to seasonal depressions, yet opinionated and 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 jewellery, 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."

The major record companies had difficulty trying to put Eva's style in a category. She refused to be pushed into a single direction, preferring instead to sing the songs she loved, whether they were Jazz or Spiritual, Country or Pop. It was always a sadness to her that people did not understand that she just wanted to sing nice songs, make good music. Bruce Lundvall president of Jazz and classics for Capitol Records considered signing Eva Cassidy and it was he who teamed her with the band Pieces of a Dream for a while. But for Eva this was musically unsatisfying and he did not pursue her talent after that.

Bruce Lundvall once said that he visited Eva when she was so very ill and he told her that he realised that he had made a terrible mistake not pursuing her career her way.

Eva, forever generous responded with "God bless you."

It does not matter what your musical taste is. It does not matter if you buy just one or many CDs each year. You will find that any Eva Cassidy CD will become a treasured possession.

It is the same story, the World over, every time anyone hears Eva Cassidy's voice for the first time.

You stop what you are doing and you listen. Then you rush out and buy the other CDs.

And you will be so glad you did.

Until now, except for newspaper articles and websites like this, little has been written about Eva's life. But now, for the first time, Eva's story is told by her parents, family and friends.

Capturing Eva's essence and tender life story, Eva Cassidy: Songbird collects the intimate memories of relatives, close friends, and the musicians who collaborated with her. The book tells the story of her too-brief life and enduring music. Featuring candid full-color photos and reproductions of Eva's original artwork, a vivid portrait emerges of a woman who devoted her energies to the things she truly loved-giving encouragement to those around her, tending to plants at the nursery where she worked, and performing her music at clubs in Washington. There are now two version of this book as at last it has been published in the USA.

This American edition contains two new chapters about her influences and her posthumous success in her native country. With the publication of Eva Cassidy: Songbird, the woman behind the unforgettable voice will at last be known.

The book was written by Rob Burley, Jonathan Maitland and Elana Rhodes Byrd.

British writers Rob Burley and Jonathan Maitland produced a news story about Eva Cassidy for Granada TV in Britain, and did many further in-depth interviews for this book. Elana Rhodes Byrd is an attorney and close friend of the Cassidy family.

Source: http://www.oaksite.co.uk/bioblue.html

A Songbird By Heart:

The Life And Music Of Eva Cassidy

Every now and again you stumble across an artist or album that simply blows you away, you find you listen over and over again, so marvellous and rewarding is the discovery. When friends and family of mine, after hearing something on the radio, started to enquire if I'd heard anything by a young lady called Eva Cassidy I drew a blank. I was told that she died at a cruelly young age but had a voice that was quite staggering. They spoke of songs that she covered, such as Over The Rainbow and What A Wonderful World. So she sang jazz then? Well, yes but blues, pop, gospel, all kinds of styles. I became increasingly intrigued and hurried to get hold of a copy of one of her albums. I became interested in her story and why she never became really famous, I had to know more, there was a certain mystique about it all and my quest for the truth began. This article reveals my findings.

Eva Cassidy was born on February 2, 1963, hailing from Washington, D.C. Her precocious talent for both music and art during her childhood presumably emanated from her father , Hugh, who is a sculptor besides playing bass and cello and mother Barbara who comes from a family of craftsmen. It was through Hugh that Eva discovered folk music of the likes of Pete Seeger and Buffy St. Marie and by the time she was nine years old she had begun to become intensely serious about her music. She would practice her singing and guitar playing incessantly and it wasn't long before the family, including Eva's brother and fiddle player Dan, became a four-part ensemble.

The teenage Eva began to become known through live shows with her brother, playing country music at a local theme park, and also with a pop outfit called Stonehenge. Her appetite for fine art and nature was insatiable. She took art classes at Prince George's college but got frustrated with how modern art had forgotten what it had learned from Vermeer, Van Gogh and her other favorite masters. It didn't matter, her paintings are wonderful and display a great sense of form and colour. She also worked in a nursery as a plant propagator after abandoning her studies.

Eva Cassidy was a complex personality, shy and unassuming but stubborn and opinionated, a woman of values and principles. Her lifestyle was in direct contrast to her persona, modest, simple, unambitious and with few possessions or personal goals, just a thirst for the beautiful things in life. Having no sense of money, she apparently had no bank account until she was thirty. Uninterested in a career in music, it was not until the winter of 1986 that Chris Biondo, a bass player with a recording studio in Maryland, managed to coax the apprehensive singer out of the car and inside for a demo taping session. Biondo remembers that day well: "She was so insecure, I had to go out to the parking lot and coax her to come inside. When the taping, which was for a friend's band, was finally in the can, an impressed Biondo persuaded her to return for some solo work. For the next eight months she would come by on her day off from the nursery to sing and play. Just hearing her voice made me feel happy. She had no career goals in mind, except maybe having a demo cassette to help her get gigs as a backup singer."

It wasn't long before other influential people were made aware of Eva's glorious voice through Biondo's tapes and she began to supplement her nursery job with more session work. One such person was Al Dale, who was responsible for booking acts for outdoor concerts for the National Park Service. He was hugely impressed: "I heard this wonderful, soulful voice but couldn't see the singer from where I was sitting in the booth. When the musicians took a break I was expecting a black woman, but instead out came this blonde, blue-eyed white lady. I told her how much I loved her singing and gradually we became friends." Eva was astonished when Al offered to help her with her career -- "Why would anyone want to pay to hear me sing?"

But they did and she played many gigs during 1990, the year the Eva Cassidy band was formed and began to become a major attraction, establishing a big following in and around the D.C. area. When R&B artist Chuck Brown got to hear Cassidy's singing, again courtesy of Biondo's tapes, he loved her voice so much it led to her first commercial recording as feature artist, an album of blues and ballad duets called The Other Side in 1992.

Unfortunately, despite the popularity in her native surroundings, widespread acceptance was harder to come by. Her diverse mix of pop, blues, R&B, jazz and gospel genres was confusing to many A&R men and was ultimately hampering the chances of her getting a major record deal. Eva's career stalled because she refused to compromise. Al Dale recalls that "record companies wanted to dictate her material, to fit her into a certain mold so they could target a specific market. But she wouldn't go along with that."

A live, self-produced set at Blues Alley in Georgetown was the alternative for the moment, a jazzy collection which showcases her skillful interpretation and incredible delivery, and gives us a glimpse of the real Eva, the shy girl behind the microphone, barely making eye contact with her (enthusiastic) audience. The selections, including an intense rendering of Buffy Saint Marie's Tall Trees In Georgia, Pete Seeger's Oh, If I Had A Golden Thread and a supremely melancholic Autumn Leaves, find her paying homage to her musical influences stretching back to her childhood. Sting's Fields Of Gold is quite magnificent, eloquent and deeply affecting. She dedicates a new-look What A Wonderful World to her parents who were present in the audience, a poignant and moving moment, but the presence of up-beat swingers like Blue Skies and Honeysuckle Rose maintain the predominantly optimistic outlook of the album. A typical self-critical Eva hated the results and didn't want it released. Fortunately, she was persuaded to let it get pressed in return for a quality studio session. Live At Blues Alley became, despite limited air play on radio and small distribution, a critically acclaimed and big selling record in D.C. in 1996. The studio session she requested became what will remain her magnum opus.

Eva By Heart was posthumously released locally in 1997 but is now, with Blues Alley, available for the first time internationally. And about time too. The elegant and understated voice heard on the opener, I Know You By Heart, which features brother Dan's expressive fiddle accompaniment, is both moving and uplifting at the same time. As with the live performances, these are not mere cover versions but fresh and heartfelt renditions in which she brings new, seemingly impossible dimensions to the simplest of songs. The moods and dynamics of the excellent music making heard here shift constantly from exultation to regret, introspective then full-throated. Time Is A Healer is a soul-stirring gospel ballad featuring a wonderful backing of Eva's layered vocals. Note also the delightful and felicitious pizzicato strings which introduce the chorus. Immensely affirming, spiritual music of massive substance and integrity. Listen also to Say Goodbye, where Cassidy dons a contemporary and popular hat for a fine, soulful love song.

And boy she swings in the best Ella-like fashion on tracks like the jazz standard Blues In The Night and Wade In The Water, where her timing, the bending of notes and even a bit of scat in the former reveal an amazing understanding of jazz (Listening to Cassidy's phrasing I found myself being reminded of the young jazz vocalist Claire Martin at times and then, on inspection of the sleeve, I found the Linn artist's remarks of appreciation for Eva) not to mention her affinity with folk song, where we are treated to a most evocative and atmospheric treatment (with sound effects) of Waly Waly. Indeed, Eva's arrangements on each and every track are explicit and inventive, with tasteful multi-miked backing choruses and jazz bands, self-picked guitars, string choirs and a solitary violin or oboe here and there to add a reflective colouring to the more intimate moments. That this project was a labour of love is clearly evident from the attention to detail, the skillfully constructed sound palette and the superb recording quality.

Both albums have been re-released due to the promotion and success of Songbird, an assembly of 10 tracks from both solo albums (the songs from Eva By Heart are unreleased takes for some reason) plus one from the duet record with Chuck Brown. It's been nice to hear Eva's voice on BBC Radio Two recently and to find Songbird on prominent display in the major high street retailers too. Eva Cassidy should have been there long ago for she possessed a truly great but never fully realized talent. She was on the brink of true stardom and a major label deal when she died of malignant melanoma in November 1996 at the age of 33. We should treasure these truly remarkable albums for they keep alive the spirit and beauty of a great lady who, according to Joel E. Siegel in his sleeve notes to Eva By Heart, remains "one of the greatest voices of her generation."


Ask Men Biography

Eva Cassidy's tragically short life began on February 2, 1963, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, near Washington D.C. She grew up there, and in Bowie, Maryland. She showed an aptitude for art early on, and, at around age 9, a serious love of music developed. Although her father, Hugh Cassidy, earned his living as a special education teacher, he was also a bassist, cellist and sculptor. He taught Eva the rudiments of guitar, and soon formed a family folk group with Eva's brother Danny on fiddle. It quickly became clear that Eva had a gifted singing voice.

As youngsters, she and Danny got a regular gig playing country music at a local amusement park. It was good practice, but Eva, a shy and sensitive child, found performing too stressful and opted out. She would continue singing in high school, mostly with a pop/rock group called Stonehenge, and upon graduating, began to study art at a local community college.

Backup Babe

Eva soon grew disenchanted and impatient with her studies, finding that she wasn't really learning anything, and began working at a plant nursery instead. In 1986, her old friend David Lourim persuaded her to be a backup vocalist in his band, Method Actor. At the studio she met producer Chris Biondo, whom she would work with on many occasions as a backup singer, and would later date.

With Biondo, Eva flexed her skills in a wide variety of musical styles, including rap and Washington D.C.'s regional jazz-funk style known as go-go. At Biondo's urging, she recorded on her own here and there, and also began to overcome her reservations about performing solo.

Doin' The Duet

Around 1990 Biondo played some of Eva's demos for Chuck Brown, the D.C. legend who had masterminded the go-go sound. Brown had long wanted to do more jazz and soul material, and found in Eva's interpretations the perfect match for his voice. Eva Cassidy and Chuck Brown soon recorded an album together entitled The Other Side, which was released in 1992 on a local label. The pair performed frequently in the D.C. area, and built up something of a following.

Meanwhile, Eva's manager Al Dale worked at bringing her voice to the rest of the world. Many a record label was interested, but they all found her repertoire, which included jazz, blues, folk, R&B, and rock songs, too broad to market. The jazz label, Blue Note, did recruit her for a stint with the jazz/pop group Pieces of a Dream, but after a single and a tour in 1994, Eva decided she didn't like their sound and returned home.

Firsts And Lasts

In September 1993, Eva had a tumor removed from her neck and, thinking little of it, didn't follow up on her checkups. She continued to play around town, often with Brown, and earned several local music awards. In January of 1996, she gave two performances at the club Blues Alley that were recorded by Biondo and Dale. Despite her reservations, the pair convinced her to let them release the recordings, and the album instantly became a local favorite.

While working on her first studio record, eventually to be called Eva By Heart, she moved to Annapolis, Maryland, and took a job painting murals in elementary schools. Soon after, her hip began to hurt her, and she assumed that the pain was being caused by the step ladder that she stood on all day, but when she had it checked out, she discovered that her hip bone was actually broken. Further tests revealed that the melanoma from her tumor had spread to her lungs and bones. She was told she had three to five months to live.

In September 1996, a benefit was held in Eva's honor. She took the stage to sing a little duet with Chuck Brown, and then, to everyone's surprise, summoned the strength to perform "What a Wonderful World" on her own. It was the last song she would ever perform. Eva Cassidy died on November 2, 1996, after spending a few months in the hospital.

Posthumous Popularity

Eva By Heart came out as planned on the D.C. Liason label in 1997, to expected acclaim. Soon after, folk singer Grace Griffith convinced her label Blix Street to release a compilation of Eva's songs called Songbird. The disc found its way into the hands of British BBC disc jockey Terry Wogan, who began playing Eva's recording of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" with some frequency.

Wogan received a flurry of requests for the song and inquiries about the artist. Songbird quickly climbed the charts, hit No. 1, and sold over a million copies in the UK. Several more albums of released and unreleased material have done similarly well, and Eva has finally received the recognition she deserves.

Source: http://www.askmen.com/

Eva By Heart

by Joel E. Siegel

In 1986, she arrived at bassist Chris Biondo's Maryland recording studio to sing for a demo by Method Actor, a soft rock band headed by her high school friend, Dave Lourim. "It was the middle of winter," Biondo remembers. "She was so insecure, I had to go out to the parking lot and coax her to come inside." He was impressed with her singing and invited her to return so that he could record her as a soloist. "For the next eight months, she'd come by on her day off from the nursery to sing and play. Just hearing her voice made me feel happy. She had no career goals in mind, except maybe having a demo cassette to help her get gigs as a backup singer."

Biondo played Eva's tapes for musicians, and soon she was singing on Go-Go, rap and pop sessions. One day, Al Dale, whose job with the National Park Service included booking entertainment for outdoor concerts, dropped into Biondo's studio. "I heard this wonderful, soulful voice but couldn't see the singer from where I was sitting in the booth. When the musicians took a break, I was expecting a black woman, but instead out came this blonde, blue-eyed white lady. I told her how much I loved her singing and gradually we became friends. When I offered to help her with her career, she seemed astonished. The first thing she said was `Why would anyone want to pay to hear me sing?' She had no idea how great she was."

Encouraged by Biondo and Dale, she formed the Eva Cassidy Band in the spring of 1990. At first, she felt uncomfortable on-stage, keeping her eyes downcast to avoid making contact with the audience. But as she came to realize how much people enjoyed her music, she gradually evolved into a more confident, outgoing performer. The group's appearances at Blues Alley, the Wharf, the Birchmere, 219, Fleetwood's and other D.C. area clubs attracted a hard-core following.

After a recording session, Biondo played Eva's tapes for Go-Go godfather Chuck Brown, who remained in the studio until dawn listening to her voice. "The first four or five notes and I knew this lady really had something," Brown recalls. "She was singing `Stormy Monday' and `God Bless The Child,' songs I grew up with. She sounded so sweet and mellow, and had so much soul and feeling. I've earned my living playing rhythm and blues and rock and roll, but never considered myself a jazz or blues performer. When Eva agreed to make an album with me, she gave me the inspiration and confidence to try something I used to lie in my bed dreaming about but was always afraid to do." The result was The Other Side, a CD of ballads and blues duets released in November 1992, which led to concert appearances with Brown at the Kennedy Center and Wolf Trap. "Eva opened a lot of doors for me. Performing with her was the most exciting part of my career. She will always be in my heart."

Dale approached record labels to sign Eva as a solo artist, but her eclectic repertoire, jazz, blues, folk, standards, gospel, pop, confused short-sighted a&r directors. "Eva was a pure artist," Dale observes. "She chose songs that moved her, that allowed her to express her feelings. Record companies wanted to dictate her material, to fit her into a certain mold so they could target a specific market. But she wouldn't go along with that. She refused to compromise her music to make it more commercial."

Frustrated by the record industry, Biondo and Dale decided to showcase Eva's music on a self-produced CD, taped live at Georgetown's Blues Alley in January 1996. Characteristically, she was unsatisfied with the results, and begged them not to release the album. After considerable persuasion, a compromise was reached. She agreed to let them issue the live CD if she could immediately begin working on a follow-up studio album. Her insecurity about Live At Blues Alley was unfounded. When the album appeared in June, Washington reviewers hailed it as one of the most accomplished solo vocal debuts of the decade. The public's response was equally enthusiastic. Despite minimal advertising and limited airplay, Live at Blues Alley became one of the D.C. area's best-selling records of 1996.

Eva By Heart is Cassidy's artistic testament, demonstrating the scope, versatility and depth of her talents. She was attracted to songs that express profound themes (love, loss, transcendence, redemption) drawn from a diversity of musical traditions, which she transforms, into haunting personal statements. Words are inadequate to capture the crystalline splendor of her singing, her pinpoint intonation and effortless control, her luxuriant multitracked choral backgrounds, her astonishing dynamics that range from the opalescent caress of ballads to full-throated, roof-raising blues and gospel shouts. The wonder of her sound is complemented by her fluent skills as an instrumentalist, guitar and keyboards, and the resourcefulness of her arrangements, which enfold her voice and guitar in layered harmonic textures. But even more impressive than her musicianship is the sheer, heartfelt emotion she conveys, cutting to the core of feelings all of us experience but can only stumblingly articulate.

One of the greatest voices of her generation, Eva Cassidy never regretted failing to achieve the recognition she deserved. People who knew and loved her feel that this private, stubborn, sensitive woman would not have tolerated the intrusions and inconveniences of celebrity, and probably would have pedaled away from the limelight on her bicycle. Eva By Heart is the treasure she has bequeathed to us. Its appearance commemorates an extraordinary creative spirit and marks the beginning of an inspiring musical legend.

Source: From The Liner Notes Of Eva By Heart

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