Eva would become famous, but she would not live to see it.

After years of performing Grace Griffith finally signed a contract with a small record company called Blix Street Records just before Eva’s death. The Los Angeles-based indie label had tasted success with Irish singer Mary Black, who’d had a modest hit with ‘No Frontiers’, not to be confused with No Boundaries, the album that Eva recorded with David Christopher and Tony Taylor. Grace hesitated to tell Blix Street managing director Bill Straw about her talented friend. She admitted in an interview that she was afraid that Eva would overshadow her, but she eventually decided not to hold back any longer. Grace copied a tape of Live At Blues Alley, making ‘Fields Of Gold’ the opening track, and sent it to Los Angeles. Bill Straw was immediately entranced, convinced that people would love it. At the same time he realised the tragic nature of this discovery: that Eva would become famous, but she would not live to see it.

songbird(1998)

songbird(1998)

After Eva’s death on November 2nd, 1996, Reverend Linda Olson Peebles visited Hugh and Barbara to discuss preparations for a remembrance ceremony for Eva, which was held several days after her ashes were scattered into the river. Linda had never met Eva personally, but she knew her music. Linda is an acquaintance of Grace Griffith and they are both Unitarian Universalists.

Linda was not only a preacher but also a singer-songwriter. In the eighties and nineties Grace Griffith had organised open mic evenings in her coffeehouse and Linda had played and sang there regularly. The family thought it important that a liberal female preacher who loved music speak at Eva’s ceremony. Linda examined Eva’s work, listened to stories and memories of Eva from Hugh and Barbara and followed their wishes for the service. Music was a core element to the Cassidys, so Chris Biondo was asked to bring his expertise and equipment to the ceremony. The ceremony was held under an enormous canopy in a Maryland State Park not far from the city of Greenbelt. It was a sunny afternoon, relatively mild for the time of the year. About 600 guests arrived.

sailing

sailing

Grace Griffith sang a song that meant a lot to Eva: Pete Seeger’s ‘Oh, Had I A Golden Thread’. Eva had recorded the song in the studio and it had been included on the Live At Blues Alley album. On the liner notes Eva described the song as her favourite. The melody was quite simple, a freer version of ‘Nearer My God To Thee’, but Eva was able to improvise the chords. The lyrics connected with Eva and the visual artist in her was attracted to the weaving of a rainbow design. To Eva, the rainbow was a symbol of a happiness that awaited her somewhere in the distance. Grace Griffith’s version had a Celtic touch.

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