Eva’s friend Celia Murphy in Volendam

For the first time in my life I visited Volendam, a Dutch fishermen’s village where I met Celia Murphy who made a journey through Europe. We enjoyed the local eel and, of course, we talked about Eva Cassidy. Celia was one of Eva’s best friends. In 1973, the Murphys, an Anglo-Indian family, emigrated from India to Maryland where their children, Ruth and Celia, were enrolled at Robert Goddard Junior High School where they attended music classes supervised by Rosemary Rockwell. Eva and her sister Marget attended Rosemary’s choir lessons and met up with Ruth and Celia. The Murphy sisters loved to sing and they recognised a kindred spirit in Eva.

Celia Murphy and Johan Bakker

Celia Murphy and Johan Bakker

Eva was welcomed into the class because she could play guitar. She had a great voice but she didn’t like to sing solo parts because she was too shy. Scott from Winston-Salem, in North Carolina, had the pleasure of knowing Eva in high school and singing with her in the small choral group. Later he would post an appraisal of Eva on an internet forum:

“Often one doesn’t recognize great talent amongst seven other singers but everyone recognized Eva’s capacity for humility and compassion. As a very quiet person she tried to blend in. She did not seek centre stage and shied away from requests to do solos. Even though she was an excellent choral member, every so often the power and beauty of her voice would overshadow everyone else in the room.One particular moment stands out in my mind when our director was frustrated in trying to get a certain passion and depth of sound from us and, being typical teenagers, we were unwilling to put forth the effort. During the next pass through, however, one voice rose above all others, strong, passionate, and with a pristine clarity I’d never heard before in that room. To everyone’s surprise, perhaps even to herself, it was Eva. She immediately turned red, looked to the floor, and timidly offered ‘I guess I took in a large breath and it wanted out’. Our performance of that song gained new fever and became one of our best. She had shown us just how good it could be. I guess few of us really understood the depth of her talent and her ability to communicate through her singular voice. Even as a teenage person, she was as beautiful and sensitive as her voice. Personally I am blessed to have known her, together we are all fortunate to have these remembrances of her talent and sensitivity.”

The choir sang all kinds of music, including hymns, spirituals and folk songs such as ‘The Water Is Wide’. Eva wasn’t too keen on Mrs Rockwell’s no-nonsense approach to music because she couldn’t stand strict people, but Margret was different: she liked the straightforward choir leader.Eva and Celia also joined a folk group that rehearsed after school, led by Ms Bush, a talkative lady and a devout Christian who played guitar and knew many folk songs. It was here that Eva learned what was to become a favourite song, ‘Wade In The Water’. One day she brought Mrs Rockwell’s songbook home. It covered all kinds of pop songs, including ‘Eleanor Rigby’.



Celia discovered Eva’s clingy nature the hard way. On one occasion Eva asked her to go shopping, but later that day Celia received a phone call from another friend with the same invitation. Without thinking she asked the second friend to join them. When Eva discovered this she reacted angrily and didn’t utter a word to Celia for days.

2 responses to “Eva’s friend Celia Murphy in Volendam”

  1. Mike Craig says:

    I loved your comments. I enjoy Eva’s music. She will always be with us in song.

  2. Gary Stradling says:

    I love Eva Cassidy. The beauty and clarity of her folk melodies is exquisite and touches me deeply. I am grateful to know her family, long after her death.
    I hope to come to know her in the next life.
    All inspired descriptions of heaven seem to include singing choirs. That shared harmony must be a fundamental characteristic of those close to the Lord. I am sure that her special talent and spirit finds expression there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *