What’s strange is that I had seen this video a couple of years ago. But I didn’t follow up on it or read anything about Eva Cassidy until tonight. And what a beautiful story. Here is the video of her singing “Over the Rainbow.” I thought when I first heard it that, yes, it was beautiful, but in the vain of singer Pearl Aday, meaning that I could not appreciate it. But listening to it now and to some of her other songs in her rotation made me appreciate how she personalizes such familiar songs that she pulls us out of our lyrical lull. Her voice is quite beautiful.
Gary North explains that “No record company had wanted to sign her. She was too eclectic. They could not pigeonhole her, so they skipped her. All she needed was a studio, two microphones, and a sound technician. No one thought the investment was worth it. No one ever signed her for a solo album.”
. . . . she was virtually unknown outside her native Washington, D.C., when she died of melanoma in 1996.Two years later, Cassidy’s music was brought to the attention of British audiences when her versions of “Fields of Gold” and “Over the Rainbow” were played by Mike Harding and Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2. Following the overwhelming response, a camcorder recording of “Over the Rainbow,” taken at Blues Alley in Washington by her friend Bryan McCulley, was shown on BBC Two’s Top of the Pops 2. Shortly afterwards, the compilation album Songbirdclimbed to the top of the UK Albums Charts, almost three years after its initial release. The chart success in the United Kingdom and Ireland led to increased recognition worldwide; her posthumously released recordings, including three UK number 1 records, have sold more than ten million copies. Her music has also charted top 10 positions in Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.
How did producers not recognize this talent? They were professionals. This was their business. When would would they ever find someone like this again?
We can all miss things that are great . . . and under our noses. We may recognize this after the fact. But how was this not recognized at the time?
You must make the time to watch this review of her musical life.
You’ve got to love Gary North’s refrain:
“It is great that YouTube keeps her performances alive. This is a reminder: if you have a talent, record it. Put it on YouTube. Encourage talented people you know to do the same. No one knows when the public will discover talent. Sometimes this is posthumous. Here is her YouTube playlist.”