Eva Cassidy’s 55th birthday

2 February would have been Eva Cassidy’s 55th birthday if this American vocalist, guitarist and artist hadn’t died on 2 November 1996.

Eva's last birthday

Eva’s last birthday

‘She represents all that is good in this world.’ This quotation – that Eva added to the bottom of her portrait of Bernice, bassist and producer Chris Biondo’s dog – summarises Eva’s own life precisely. Eva loved animals because unlike people they never let her down. In her relationships with others she was always cautious, wary of unpleasantness or confrontation. The pain of her unhappy adolescence pursued her until her dying day.

Chris Biondo

Chris Biondo

But Eva Cassidy found a way of coping with the troubled waters that flowed around her life. From misery she created beautiful things. Art became a way not only of neutralising Eva’s melancholy but it brightened up her existence to the point that she was able to sing ‘I think to myself, what a wonderful world’ and really mean it.

Mermaid

Mermaid

Eva’s singing brings both hope and comfort. Her music gives listeners the strength to resign themselves to mortality, at least temporarily. The first time Eva experienced this transition was while watching Judy Garland in her dusty Kansas farmyard singing ‘Over The Rainbow’. Years later Eva gave millions of others the same thing, the chance to experience this song imbued with even greater emotional depth.

Art was what made Eva’s life shine. She had no interest in material things. Twenty-one years after her death Eva would more than likely feel completely out of place in our mass media technological age: money, power, fame, image – all these were of no importance to Eva. It was almost as if she knew that her life on earth would be short and that it was pointless to surround herself with worldly treasures. She felt humble, like mere stardust.

Bruce Lundvall

Bruce Lundvall

Blue Note president Bruce Lundvall deeply regretted that he hadn’t signed her to his label, but it was Eva who spurned him, refusing to be pigeonholed. Fame was a terrifying prospect and success at the expense of artistic freedom was anathema to her psyche. Eva shut the door on the vast sums of money that Norah Jones, the star who saved Blue Note, would earn in her place. Eva reached for higher goals, with an innate sense that longing for something was somehow more important than attaining it.

Norah Jones

Norah Jones

With one notable exception, she wrote none of her own words but those songs she chose to sing so beautifully reflected her spiritual attitude to life, love, God, nature and the universe. She was most at ease when she could embrace her softer side in a kind of spiritual sisterhood with her closest friends. In the 21 years since her death, Eva’s songs have and continue to appear in feature films, her albums continue to sell in vast quantities all over the world and she is a noted influence on or favourite of a diverse selection of singers and musicians. Eva Cassidy’s story is unique.

Eva Cassidy

Eva Cassidy

Is Chris Biondo right in asserting that Eva was the best singer in the world? Yes and no. There have been more mature jazz singers than Eva, purer folk singers, more convincing gospel singers and tighter R&B singers, but no one singer mastered all these genres as well as Eva Cassidy. It’s about time to honour Eva as one of the most versatile, authentic and gifted singers the world has ever seen. Not because it is politically correct to say so, but because it is the truth.

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3 reactie(s)

  1. Jim

    Someone left this comment about Eva on one of rhe You Tube videos and I want to pass it along.
    “She was a treasure that never got spoiled”
    Thank You Eva for all the soul felt songs you re-made so beautifully.
    They will Forever Live in the Fields of Gold of My Memories of You and Your Music.

  2. A Terry

    Her music still stops me dead in my tracks . Yes,Yes,Yes

  3. raymond l johnson

    Oh, i’m in total agreement with Chris Biondo asserting that Eva was the best singer in the world…oh, hell, yes!!!!! I don’t care what song she sang her heart and soul became a part of that song. I’ve heard hundreds of different versions of “Over The Rainbow” alone and no one has come even close to capturing it’s essence! Even Judy Garland paled to Eva’s version. “Fields of Gold” is another and i could go on and on! There are two voices I miss to this day like none others; Eva Cassidy’s & Karen Carpenter. they will never, ever be replaced!