“Eva Cassidy changed my life.”

Amba Tremain did backing-vocals on the Somewhere album. Read how Eva Cassidy changed her life.

Can you tell something about the different versions of Over The Rainbow you recorded?

I have always preferred to sing Eva’s rendition of Over The Rainbow as I thought her melody choices and changes in chord structure were absolute perfection. However, over time I have obviously begun to sing it in my own little way. When I performed the song on ITV’s (UK TV station) This Is My Moment we kept to Eva’s format, but after winning the show I went on to record a version in a London studio. The producers had given the song, what they felt was a ‘new, commercial’ sound. But personally I hated it. I didn’t think it needed ‘freshening up’ in anyway. I decided to carrying on singing the acoustic format, just as Eva did.

How important is Eva Cassidy for you?

Eva Cassidy changed my life. Simple and true. I was a young mother of a new born son when I first heard Eva’s voice. I had also been through a traumatic ordeal. I was attacked and hospitalised by a gang in my home town. I literally couldn’t leave my house. My family were desperate for me to find happiness again and it was my mother who begged me to try out for this TV talent show. I had 30 seconds to sing down the telephone in order to be considered for the show. And they chose me. I sang from the middle to the outro of Over The Rainbow on the telephone and in my subsequent audition that followed and that song got me through to become the winner.

Amba and Leonie Tremain

Amba and Leonie Tremain

After winning the show I went on to do hundreds of personal appearances and EVERYONE wanted that song. It wasn’t me, it’s the song and what it means to so many people, that touched everyone.

I began realising that every word Eva sang about in that song she truly believed in. And yes, I know it was originally made famous by Judy Garland but there is something about the slightly melancholic chord choices and haunting vocals in Eva’s, that make you feel as if you’d never heard it before she sang it.

Is Over The Rainbow your favourite Eva song?

Obviously I have several favourites as her voice is just wonderful, including Chain Of Fools for the sheer fact I got to sing on it and Over The Rainbow as it has such a personal meaning for me…. but I think my ultimate favourite song is actually Time Is A Healer. There is something about that song that strikes a cord in my heart. I enjoy singing that one in my live sets too. As well as People Get Ready.

What did you do with the prize money?

The prize money is quite a sore subject, I sometimes wish I’d never won any money. After the show I was very badly advised and ended up in the wrong hands, by two managers who claimed they wanted to make me a star. They ended up disappearing with £30,000.00 of my money, not to mention all the money I’d spent over a year getting to and from places to meet with them, paying for my own studio sessions and more. I was conned and haven’t seen them or my money since. It was an odd time. I suddenly had ‘friends’ that would creep out of the wood work, borrow money and I’d never see them again. I was far too generous with my winnings. If only I’d been given solid advice from the start I may not have been so naive.

Amba Tremain

Amba Tremain


The courage I gained from winning was what I needed. I wanted to sing and do something with my life that I could be proud of.

How did you end up on the Somewhere album?

A couple of years after winning the show I joined my younger sister Leonie’s band. We went out, played covers and had the best time. From that we met guitarist Andy Dixon and formed an unbreakable friendship. We began writing original music together and ended up working with a producer in London called Steve. He had a connection with Blix Street Records who managed all of Eva’s music, old friends in the business. He was asked to remaster some of Eva’s unheard catalogue. There was no guarantee anything we did would make the album but we gave it a go regardless.

We actually recorded Chain Of Fools and Son Of A Preacher Man but only Chain Of Fools made it onto the album. It was the most surreal moment of my life. We stood in a little run down shed in the middle of Harrow, London, my sister and I sharing a pair of broken headphones recording and arranging backing vocals. Then suddenly Eva’s voice came through the cans and it just hit us. We were singing with Eva Cassidy. The woman who’d changed the direction of my life. We’ll never forget that moment. It was a rainy cold day but the moment she began to sing the sun beamed through the roof of the run down shed directly on to us. It was strange but so affirming. We knew this was what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives. We were awarded a Gold Disc for our contribution and that came from her label. That was honestly the best feeling ever, I actually cried when I got it.

Do you still sing Eva Cassidy songs?

I play with several bands and still go out as a solo artist occasionally but it doesn’t matter what kind of set I am singing or playing an Eva song always makes it in. I still sing ‘Over the rainbow’ but also perform Time Is A Healer, Songbird, People Get Ready, Cheek To Cheek, Fields Of Gold, Wayfaring Stranger and Wade In The Water. Her voice and choice of music is timeless and always goes down well with any audience I am performing to.

Amba Tremain and her sister

Amba Tremain and her sister Leonie in the studio.

What can you tell us about your current musical activities?

I am a musician, singer and songwriter now signed to UK label ‘Groovefinder’. It is actually the same band that myself, my sister Leonie and guitarist friend Andy Dixon co founded at the time of the Eva recording. We are still together and are also signed as a songwriting team called ‘Halo’. We’ve written songs for a collection of artists at Sony at Atlantic Records and continue to write music on a daily basis. I am also a session vocalist and have recently recorded and toured with Boy George (Of Culture Club) Myself and my sister can be heard on his new album This Is What I Do.

I am also a singing teacher. I co run a great project here in Portsmouth for young people called ‘The Urban Vocal Group’. We provide free music and singing tuition to kids who have an interest in getting into the music industry. I absolutely love everything I do and its safe to say that music is my life now. All thanks to Eva Cassidy.

One response to ““Eva Cassidy changed my life.””

  1. michael barron says:

    I’m thinking that’s a slanderous statement to make about myself and my family, no mention of using my phone frombmy parents house to actually audition

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