Eva Cassidy finds herself in a league of her own when it comes to heart-tugging, tear-jerking stories. Upon her passing from cancer in 1996, she was not a Grammy winner or a legend. In fact, you were fortunate if you had ever heard of her, unless you lived in the Washington D.C. area. It had nothing to do with a lack of talent, because the talent was coming out of her ears, and most everyone who heard her sing agreed on this. Unfortunately, recording companies struggled to figure out how to market her, as her repertoire consisted of everything from jazz to blues to rock to gospel to Irish folk music; a repertoire so broad that they simply chose not to market her at all. Apparently being incredibly diverse had its downside – she couldn’t be defined, so the powers that be decided to not try and define her at all. Grammy awards and record albums sales can be difficult to come by when no one has the guts to distribute your work.
The fortunate side to this sad story is that the right guy got his hands on one of her recordings and helped get her music on the airwaves, even if it was after her death. A British radio DJ came across her Live at Blues Alley release and began broadcasting Eva’s version of Somewhere over the Rainbow in the early 2000’s. That exposure led to topping the British album charts, and album sales topping one million.
Subsequent albums and exposure led Eva Cassidy’s popularity west, where by 2006 she became the number five selling artist on Amazon.com. Her numbers on ITunes are comparable now, if not better. Most of her albums have now earned gold or platinum status posthumously. It appears after all, that diversity, matched with an epic voice (a voice I would be surprised if anyone disliked), doesn’t need clever marketing and a huge recording contract. Her following is huge and no longer can be described as a cult following. And while her story most certainly tugs at the heart, her huge sales since her death can not only be credited to an unfortunate story that chokes us up, but to an amazing talent that appeals to a large and diverse audience of listeners. And while it might be a bold statement for me to make, it is an honest one, as Eva Cassidy’s recording of Who Knows Where the Time Goes remains my all time favorite recording by a female vocalist.
Eva Cassidy’s latest album Somewhere, has now been released by Blix Street Records, a Gig Harbor based recording company. For those who know and love Eva’s music, this album will treat you quite nicely. This is far from an album that features leftover studio and live recordings that were thrown together just to create another release. It features a nice collection of down tempo tunes throughout, showing off Cassidy’s fantastic ability to remind listeners that a well sung ballad really should draw and display emotion. Showcased in the middle of the album are a series of bluesy songs including Chain of Fools, Walkin’ After Midnight, and Ain’t Doin’ Too Bad that remind us that to be versatile in music means not only the ability to sing different styles of music, but the ability to sing different styles of music well.
The album closes as if her fans were asked what they would like to hear Eva sing to close out an album. We hear a wonderful version of Gershwin’s Summertime, and finish with the title track, a tune co-written by Eva and Chris Biondo, Eva’s former boyfriend.
It is rare that you can listen to an Eva Cassidy recording and at the very least not say “wow”. The new album Somewhere offers no exception to that rule.
Below is a video of Eva Cassidy singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” at Blues Alley, as well as her recording of “Chain of Fools” from her new album “Somewhere”, and my all-time favorite Eva recording, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”.
Click here to listen to “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”
Click here to listen to “Chain of Fools”