[ Blix Street Records / CD ]
Release Date: Monday 30 September 1996
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I defy anyone not to be moved by this great artist"
"Eva had that all important quality - magic."
"Eva's voice was inspirational. Not only was Eva blessed with her voice, but with her heart"
"Anyone who aspires to be a singer needs to listen to Eva Cassidy's work. I defy anyone not to be moved by this great artist"
"What a voice!"
Singer Eva Cassidy didn't live long enough to share her gift with the world, says Marcus Dunk
Back in 1996, a little known Washington DC singer died after being diagnosed with melanoma. She was 33 years old. Although for her it was the tragic end of a very brief life, for the rest of the world it was only the beginning of getting to know the music and astounding vocal ability of Eva Cassidy.
Quietly and without much fanfare, over the past few years, Eva has become one of the biggest-selling recording artists in the UK, outselling even major label names. Her posthumous albums have sold upwards of 100,000. All of this from someone who during her life couldn't get more than cursory interest from record companies.
"Eva deserves to stand in the company of the greats," says drummer Raice McLeod. "They had the capacity, as did Eva, of landing on a note - one note - and hitting it so true and holding it so perfectly, that it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck."
"Eva has got that emotional reach that is undeniable," agrees friend and producer Chris Biondo.
Born in 1963 in Maryland, Eva early on showed an aptitude for art and music, and by the age of 10 was playing guitar and demonstrating a natural ability to perform complex vocal harmonies. It was the pure quality of her voice, however, that set her apart. Its emotive edge and wide range made it at home in any musical genre, whether that was jazz, folk, rock or pop, and it wasn't long before Eva was singing in numerous school bands. It was through one of these bands that she met producer Chris Biondo, who recognised her talent, and began to record her.
Shy, humble and reserved, Eva was initially terrified of the idea of performing in front of other people, preferring the company of her small group of friends and her job as a nursery plant propagator.
"Eva was never one to be in the foreground," says her mother Barbara, "she was kind of shy as a person. She had this wonderful talent and I believe she didn't realise until the end what a talent she really possessed."
Gradually gaining confidence, Eva began performing in Washington DC and soon acquired a devoted following, although record deals proved elusive.
"Her problem in a sense was that she was too good a singer," says Terry Wogan, who on his Radio 2 show was one of the first to champion Cassidy in this country. "I mean, she could sing anything - folk, jazz, ballads, rock - and in some ways she fell into the gaps between these forms. She never specialised in anything, and I suppose these days unless you do that, it's very hard to get beyond a certain cult status.
"But her voice! She's such a brilliant interpreter of a song. Her version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow - I never thought I'd say it - but it's superior to Judy Garland's. She's got a range and a tone to it that is entirely distinctive. She has the ability to take a song to all sorts of new places."
In 1996 the Washington Area Music Association honoured her as 'Best Female Vocalist' in blues, jazz-contemporary, jazz-traditional and roots rock / traditional R&B categories, as well as 'Artist of the Year', and this release, 'Live At Blues Alley', as 'Album of the Year'.
1. Cheek To Cheek
2. Stormy Monday
3. Bridge Over Trouble Water
4. Fine And Mellow
5. People Get Ready
6. Blue Skies
7. Tall Trees In Georgia
8. Fields Of Gold
9. Autumn Leaves
10. Honeysuckle Rose
11. Take Me To The River
12. What A Wonderful World
13. Oh, Had I A Golden Thread