The Missing Music: Eva Cassidy   3 comments

September 26, 2011

Part 9: Eva Cassidy: The Lost Songbird

This is the ninth of ten posts about ten important women in the recording industry, each of whom died long before their time. If you haven’t already read through the introduction to this series, please follow this link to the “introduction“, and then go on to any of the individual posts.

Eva Cassidy (1963-1996)

I was a late arrival to Eva Cassidy. So late, in fact, that any of her music that might have been playing on the radio or as mood music in a local restaurant must have blended perfectly into the background. Ambiance personified. My fully conscious introduction to Cassidy was via music selected for the film Love Actually. The version of her recording of “Songbird” was one part of a brilliantly-selected group of songs for use in that film. And consistent with most of Cassidy’s recorded works, it wasn’t an original Cassidy composition. Instead, Christine McVie, the often unsung—my opinion—vocal, keyboard, and songwriting talent within Fleetwood Mac, wrote “Songbird” which, along with “Don’t Stop”, “You Make Loving Fun”, and “Oh Daddy”, was included on the wildly successful 1977 Rumours album. Cassidy, as the best vocalists and musicians must do, made the song her own.

Eva Cassidy’s gifted vocal performance and the placement in Love Actually lifted her profile considerably, albeit seven years after her death in 1996 from melanoma. She also benefited from her recording of “Over The Rainbow”, which British television used (a few years before Love Actually,) and predictably, it too broadened the fan-base. For obvious reasons there isn’t a giant catalog of recorded material by Cassidy, who was as prolific as a graphic artist as a recording artist. But like Vincent Van Gogh, who sold but one painting while he was alive, Cassidy’s recordings weren’t discovered during her life by a vast audience clamoring for more. Absent commercial success, there was no organic marketplace providing the impetus for more recordings. At least the recordings Eva Cassidy did have time to make have found an audience today. With her death at age 33, one can’t help but wonder where producers or arrangers would have taken her with more time. But time is a luxury she didn’t have.

Prior: Kirsty MacColl

Last: Laura Nyro

David Steffen

© David Steffen 2011

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3 responses to “The Missing Music: Eva Cassidy

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  1. It is little doubt that this is the best singer in the world! What makes a singer isn’t their appearance, it’s their voice! I don’t like when people judge singers on things that just aren’t that interesting. Remember, they are entertainers, not presidents! Let them do their stuff and enjoy the melodies!

  2. It is little doubt that this is the best singer in the world! What makes a singer isn’t their personality, it’s their voice! I don’t like when people judge singers on things that just aren’t that vital. Remember, they are entertainers, not actors! Let them do their thing and enjoy the music!

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