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Eva by Heart

My partner Russ is a huge — and I mean HUGE — Donna Summer fan.  He’s told me that, when she sings, it is as if he is hearing the voice of an angel, as if God himself is singing through her.  I feel the same way about Eva Cassidy.

I first discovered Eva about 10 years ago, while sampling CD’s at Barnes & Noble. They’d installed scanners in their music section, and I loved how you could just wander around, pick any disc at random, and immediately hear snippets of its songs. To me, there is something about the tangible act of holding something, acknowledging its artwork, weight and various attributes, which iTunes, for all its convenience, just can’t duplicate.

But there I was, on my lunch break, in the racks of B&N, hoping to make a new musical discovery, when I suddenly stumbled upon Eva.  I’d never heard of her, but as the red light scanned the plain black and white bar code, unveiling the opening strains of “I Know You by Heart”, I was entranced.  Such a soulful voice, pure and unforced, as if she were singing directly to me — it immediately struck a chord within. I listened to all I could, then put in another of her CD’s, and listened to that as well.

But, somehow, as I continued to listen, I inherently knew that she was dead.  Don’t ask me how — I just knew.

And after arriving back at work, a quick search online confirmed that my hunch was correct.

How does such sadness reveal itself?  Was it  the timbre of her voice?  Her musical selection?

Regardless, once I had listened, I was hooked, and bought every CD then released.  During her brief 33 years, Eva released only two CD’s, but several compilations have been released posthumously, providing a musical treasure trove to savor.

Though many in the industry had recognized her talent, they wanted to shoehorn her into a genre, which Eva resisted, preferring to sing only songs with which she fully connected.  Had she followed their advice, she might have gained more fame while alive, but I admire her determination to remain true to herself and her artistry.

Many know her versions of “Fields of Gold” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but she recorded other songs which are equally as stunning, including the haunting  “Autumn Leaves.”

“I miss you most of all, my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall…”

A life cut short, a talent that lives on…

Close your eyes and listen.

For more information on Eva, please check out evacassidy.org


One Response

  1. I discovered her while listening to the radio in my car about 12 years ago. I remember distinctly that I was late for an appointment because I had to wait several songs to find out who the heck that amazing voice was. Her cds remain among my very favorites, and I LOVE to sing at the top of my lungs along with her.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:43 am

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