‘Eva Cassidy’s transience and purity’ (guest blog)

Some people adore Eva Cassidy as a saint. If you read about her life story and listen to her beautiful, intimate songs, you will understand that. Years ago I was captivated by this vulnerable singer, whose birthday is the same as mine. Recently I bought the well-written biography Behind The Rainbow by the Dutch music journalist Johan Bakker, that won The People’s Book Prize.

One of the things that made Eva Cassidy so extraordinary is that she really hated the glitz and glamour of show business. Her introverted nature was striking, but at the same time it made Cassidy authentic and sympathetic. Despite her huge musical talent, Cassidy struggled with her insecurity. Her stage presentation was embarrassing, especially in the early years: most of the time she stared at the ground. She preferred to be among background singers and she shunned the spotlights. Her best friends and musical partners were her opposites, like the outgoing guitarist and singer Chuck Brown and Eva’s Icelandic friend Anna Karen Kristinsdottir. With people like them close to her, she could avoid the limelight.

Her relationships with record companies were remarkable as well. They wanted Cassidy to focus on a musical direction, but she definitely didn’t want to be pigeonholed and played what she liked. Her artistic freedom and the possibility to follow her musical heart were far more important than pursuing commercial success. Her career and her posthumous fame are similar to that of Vincent van Gogh. Cassidy admired the Dutch painter’s ‘Roulin’s Baby’ in The National Gallery of Art in Washington, partly because of his typical use of the colour green.

Roulin's Baby

Vincent van Gogh: Roulin’s Baby (oil on canvas, 1888)

Transience was an important theme in Cassidy’s work. She preferred lyrics about life, death and lost loves. This was not one-dimensional sadness: comfort and being part of humankind were important elements as well. This was also reflected in her spiritual side. Cassidy loved gospel music which says a lot about her own feelings. Gospel songs enabled her to free herself from misery. Her religious view struck me. Pastor Peebles, who led Cassidy’s funeral service, told Cassidy’s biographer: ‘Cassidy did not adhere to one particular branch or denomination; her spirituality was one of openness and universality, reverence and joy for the whole of creation and for all of us who are part of it.’

Cassidy had undeniable angellike characteristics and I’m probably not the only one to think so. I was touched by what people said about her after she died, like journalist Richard Harrington: ‘She was neither blessed nor burdened with the aggressiveness and ambition that fuel so many other musicians and singers.’ Or music critic Joel E Siegel: ‘But even more impressive than her musicianship is the sheer, heartfelt emotion she conveys, cutting to the core of feelings all of us experience but can only stumblingly articulate’. Her biographer emphasizes Cassidy’s aversion to material things: ‘Fifteen years after her death, Eva would more than likely feel completely out of place in our age (….). 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.’

Eva Cassidy

Eva Cassidy

But above all: her voice sounds so heavenly, so pure. It is a voice that gives both hope and comfort. A voice that deeply touched so many listeners when they heard it for the first time. Eva Cassidy has a unique sound with an impact that I experienced again when I heard the London Grammar singer, Hannah Reid. Listen to Cassidy’s beautiful renditions of ‘True Colors’, ‘Over The Rainbow’ and ‘Fields Of Gold’. Or my personal favourite ‘Autumn Leaves,’ which is  probably Eva Cassidy’s very best.

Thomas Klijn, art website ‘De Bedachtzamen’ debedachtzamen.nl

Order the book: https://www.amazon.com/Behind-Rainbow-Tragic-Life-Cassidy-ebook/dp/B006ZP847K/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3RORFMC4YREFH&dchild=1&keywords=behind+the+rainbow&qid=1585761823&sprefix=behind+the+rainbow+%2Caps%2C250&sr=8-2

 

2 responses to “‘Eva Cassidy’s transience and purity’ (guest blog)”

  1. MAC MACDONALD says:

    A WONDERFUL TRIBUTE TO THE ANGEL !!!

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