The Essence Of Eva Cassidy

Most Eva Cassidy fans had already given up hope of ever seeing a documentary about the life of their beloved singer. Over the past two decades dozens of filmmakers have knocked in vain on Eva’s parents’ door. English documentary maker Malcolm Willis and his Irish partner Alex Fegan had more luck. They are in the proces of finishing Eva Cassidy’s film portrait: The Essence of Eva. Malcolm Willis explains how this project came about.     

What can we expect?  

We are interviewing people in places that they associated with Eva. We have been to America four times now, we’ve been to Canada and to Iceland. 

This documentary is mainly a series of interviews?

The story is going to be led by the action of the interviewees. There’s no narrator. We knew what we wanted to ask. And we got some surprises. 

Alex and malcolm in Iceland

Alex and Malcolm in Iceland

What is your background?

My history was drama, some commercials and documentaries. Alex is an experienced documentary film maker. He’s got documentaries on TV, Netflix and what not. We have been working on this together: writing, producing and directing. We both bring different things to the table.

Are you especially interested in music?

I like music, but I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of particular people until I discovered Eva. One day I heard one of her songs on the radio. I liked it and downloaded it onto my phone. I had just finished my award winning film Kilimanjaro Mama (2019) and I was thinking what will I do next? Then I turned on my phone and heard ‘Over The Rainbow’. Eva Cassidy has something magical. Her music reaches you somewhere deep. Timeless Voice was the only documentary that had been done. I thought: she deserves more than that.

The only interesting part of that documentary was the Mick Fleetwood interview.

True! We have access to that material because we’re working with the family and Eva’s record company Blix Street. Everyone’s on board with this. Three day ago we had a message back from one of our people saying that Mick Fleetwood would be delighted to see us. It will probably be our last interview. So we are just waiting to pick up a date with him. 

Who else have you spoken to?

We have interviewed more than thirty people. A couple of Stonehenge musicians, Eva’s school friends Ruth and Celia. We have spoken to people who Eva performed with like Mary Ann Redmond, Ned Judy and Larry Melton. The Eva Cassidy band members Lenny Williams and Chris Biondo. Chuck Brown’s manager Tom Goldfogel. The only persons we could’t speak to were her manager Al Dale (1936 – 2017) and radio presenter Terry Wogan (1938 – 2016). We cover the period from her childhood to her passing. We have to do that because not everyone knows her. This film is not just for those who love Eva. I hope this will create more fans.

Eva's cousin Walter in Nova Scotia

Eva’s cousin Walter in Nova Scotia

It must be a privilige to do this!

The Cassidy’s trusted us to make a good film that reflects Eva’s life. 

What is your secret?

We are nice guys. I just approached them and I told them I wasn’t happy with Timeless Voice. The Cassidy’s felt the same. I said them from the beginning that we have to work together. The family, the record company and we should all push in the same direction. 

Is this documentary mainly about Eva’s music or do you discuss her art as well?

This is not just about the music. Her artwork was also important for her. She played music, she painted and she did all these artsy things. That’s a massive part of the film. In a lot of her paintings she added an intriguing bubble. We explore what she might have meant by that. 

The Essence Of Eva

The Essence Of Eva

Can you tell us a bit more about that?

I am afraid you have to watch the film first.

When can we see it?

We’re looking at the early part of next year. At the moment we are talking with a number of different broadcasters and we are negotiating with them. We have got an awful lot of archive footage from Eva’s family. Lovely stuff. Some new songs as well.

Tell us more!

There’s some nice stuff in there. We have some of the old favourites. You couldn’t do without ‘Fields of Gold’, ‘Over The Rainbow’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’. They are all part of the story anyway. And there will be a lovely soundtrack to it.

Have you spoken to Eva’s brother Dan Cassidy?

We met him in America and in Iceland. We spent a lot of time with him and also with Eva’s friend from Iceland Anna Karen. 

Can you explain the title of the documentary?

The Essence of Eva is the name of one of her paintings.  Eva was not only a good singer and an excellent guitarist she made beautiful art work as well.

Eva working on a mural

Eva working on a mural

11 responses to “The Essence Of Eva Cassidy”

  1. Sasha Poulsen says:

    I listen to Eva almost every single day. She makes my heart happy

  2. As A Young Singer, I was inspired by Eva ?to follow my Divine Mission ?
    Eva lives on through her Art ??
    And the impact she has made ?
    Forever Loved ?

    • Dennis Ryan says:

      If there is a Heaven then that’s where we will find her. Creating her music and art. Surrounded by Awe touching all who see and listen to her as we her fans have.
      Somewhere………. We will find her.
      Am so happy the documentary is near finishing.

  3. Jon Boling says:

    I believe Eva is in Heaven. And I know exactly what she is doing: Teaching angels how to sing!
    I cannot wait to see this important film.

  4. I’m so happy to know about this documentary being made. If truth be told I’d never heard of Eva until after she was gone. Now I absolutely love listening to her music. I always have shivers down my spine when I listen to and watch Eva performing Somewhere Over The Rainbow and surpassing all other versions I’ve heard. Looking forward very much to seeing this new documentary.

  5. Dave Reynolds says:

    I’ve always thought of Eva as the most honest and sincere singer I’ve ever heard. I’m sure her artwork reflects those same values, so I would love to be notified when her artwork is published online or exhibited live!

  6. Laura says:

    I wish I had known about her while she was living; I would have been her greatest fan. The world was graced with her presence, but now it revolves much slower, keeping us separated from a beautiful artist and her works. It’s a darker place here, without her light.

  7. Don Genereux says:

    I really want to see this.

  8. Chris says:

    I’m so looking forward to seeing the documentary. Thank you for making it. Eva was so special. I remember the first time I heard her. It was Fields of Gold on a news bulletin about her success after she died. I’m a singer and I’d have loved to duet with her.

  9. Jerry Mae Ritzel says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing the Essence of Eva.

  10. Julie says:

    Can’t wait to see this! Love Eva!

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