Eva Marie Cassidy (February 2, 1963 – November 2, 1996) was an American vocalist, known for her interpretations of jazz, blues, folk, gospel, country and pop classics. Cassidy was virtually unknown outside her native Washington, DC.
In 1993, Cassidy had a malignant mole removed from her back. Three years later, during a promotional event for the Live at Blues Alley album in July 1996, Cassidy noticed an ache in her hips, which she attributed to stiffness from painting murals while perched atop a stepladder. The pain persisted and a few weeks later, X-rays revealed that the melanoma had spread to her lungs and bones. The doctors gave her three to five months to live. Cassidy opted for aggressive treatment, but her health deteriorated rapidly. In her final public performance in September 1996, at the Bayou, she closed the set with “What a Wonderful World” in front of an audience of friends, fans and family. She was subsequently admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital . Cassidy died at her family home in Bowie, November 2, 1996, at the age of 33.
Four years later, Cassidy’s music was brought to the attention of British audiences when her version of “Over the Rainbow” was played on BBC Radio 2. Following the overwhelming response, a camcorder recording of “Over the Rainbow”, taken at the Blues Alley, was shown on BBC Two‘s Top of the Pops 2. Shortly afterwards, the compilation album Songbird climbed to the top of the UK Albums Charts, almost three years after its initial release. The chart success in the United Kingdom led to increased recognition worldwide; as of 2008 her posthumously released recordings, including three UK #1s, have sold around eight million copies. Her music has also charted top 10 positions in Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.
In May 2001, ABC‘s Nightline in the United States broadcast a well-received short documentary about Cassidy. Over the weekend, all five of Cassidy’s albums occupied Amazon.com‘s best sellers list top spots. The Nightline episode has since been rebroadcast three times due to popular demand. Producer Leroy Sievers has said that it is “probably the most popular Nightline ever”. In December, a nine-minute segment on NPR resulted in a similar sales surge, with five of the top seven spots going to Cassidy. It was this original broadcast that introduced me to her wonderful music.
This version of “Fields of Gold” recorded for the Blues Alley Album, is what I believe is one those rare exceptions where the cover version is better than the original. Originally written and record by Sting, Eva Cassidy brings the raw emotion and interpretation that I believe is like no other. It is without a doubt one of the best songs ever posted on this site.
So with great pleasure, I present Eva Cassidy “to those who have ears to hear”.