MICHELLE KWAN and "FIELDS OF GOLD"
An archive page
The acclaimed figure skating champion Michelle Kwan skated to Eva's "Fields of Gold" from late 2001 into 2003. Items on this page originally appeared in "What's New."
In the autumn of 2001, Eva Cassidy fans and figure skating audiences were delighted when champion skater Michelle Kwan performed a new exhibition program to Eva's recording of "Fields of Gold." Many consider it her most beautiful program ever. On this page I have collected chronologically all the news items about Michelle Kwan from the "What's New" page. Included are some wonderful photographs of Eva's parents meeting Michelle Kwan backstage on the "Champions On Ice" 2002 tour. For more information about "America's Own, Michelle Kwan," I recommend The Michelle Kwan Fan Page and for discussions about Michelle Kwan, visit the Michelle Kwan Forum (especially the MK Fan Chat section). Heather has also created a "fanlisting" about "Fields of Gold" which I think is very beautiful and worth visiting!
10/2001: From a fan site about champion ice skater Michelle Kwan : "At the Skating Tribute show on October 5 in NY, Michelle skated a new program, Fields of Gold, sung by Eva Cassidy." The ice show was held at Madison Square Garden. I think this is the first time Eva's music has been used to accompany ice skating. The show will be televised in the US on ABC, October 14th, 2001, at 2 PM Eastern time. Heather tells me, "I thought I'd let you know that it seems as if Michelle will indeed keep
'Fields of Gold' as her exhibition program this season (meaning she'll
skate to it about 6-8 times).
Late 2001: Heather, the official ice skating advisor to Eva Cassidy fans, has been filling me in about whether Michelle Kwan will be skating her "Fields of Gold" program at the Olympics this winter. She tells me that "FOG" is an "exhibition" number and would not be used for the actual competition part of the Olympics, but it may be seen on the separate exhibition day. "There are pro/am [professional/amateur] events where it is a competitive number, but it's technically her exhibition. But as long as she skates to this number for the Olympics (and I hope she does... it's my favorite exhibition number of hers since 1998), you'll see it. Exhibitions at the Olympics are on Feb 22." I was so charmed to see Michelle Kwan singing along with Eva at one point, and I asked Heather if that is a common thing skaters do. She said "No, skaters don't mouth the words that often. There's this one skater that does, but other than him... I don't think so. I've only seen
Michelle do that once before." Thanks, Heather!
Feb. 23: After Michelle Kwan won the bronze medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics, instead of the hoped-for gold, I was sure that she wouldn't choose "Fields of Gold" for her exhibition skate. I guessed wrong! Michelle Kwan did skate to "Fields of Gold" last night at the "Champions Gala" (exhibitions). I'm so glad I watched anyway! Alas, Eva was anonymous, but NBC didn't seem to identify the other singers either. The commentator said something rude about "irony," of course.
UPDATE: Steve in Virginia disagrees with me about the "irony" remark. He writes, "I saw the live broadcast last night, and didn't think it was rude at all. I thought the words to 'Fields of Gold' were even more meaningful and touching, given that Kwan didn't win ...
'I never make promises lightly
And there've been some that I've broken
But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in fields of gold ...'
I took Kwan's meaning that there are 'fields of gold' beyond an Olympic
gold medal, and that the best is yet to come. I thought it was amazingly
classy of Kwan, bringing closure to a disappointing journey, yet with a great
amount hope for the future.
Much like Eva's life.
And I think the NBC commentators picked up on that rather well. Just a thought."
April 2002: "Good news," says Heather, our skating consultant. "According to
an article in Thursday's USA Today, Michelle will be skating to 'Fields
of Gold' on tour!! I haven't read any reports from the tour yet (it started Wednesday),
so maybe the article is mistaken (I doubt it though). Here's the tour's website address: http://championsonice.com/ . I know it's in DC soon. The schedule is on the website." Thank you, Heather -- good news indeed! (photo on the left copyright 2002 by Heather Winfield. Used with permission). ***CONFIRMED!!! Kwan will be skating to "Fields of Gold" on the 95-city "Champions on Ice" tour! Heather says, "The COI tour will be broadcast in the US on TNT April 13 from noon-3, and repeated on April 15 from 11pm-2am. Also, the Worlds Exhibitions will be repeated on April 11 on ESPN2 from 8-10. So if anyone missed it, they can catch it again."
April 2002: EVA'S PARENTS MET MICHELLE KWAN! Hugh and Barbara Cassidy, and some friends and family members, went backstage before the "Champions on Ice" show in Baltimore to meet the show's star, champion ice skater Michelle Kwan. Michelle is skating to Eva's recording of "Fields of Gold" on the 95-city COI tour. Bill Straw of Blix Street Records presented Michelle Kwan with a gold record, which the SONGBIRD album has recently earned for album sales in the United States. The press release from Blix Street states, ' Kwan, known for her artistry and grace, has skated to the poignant “Fields of Gold” many times in the past year, but no performance was more memorable than the showcase of champions at the Olympics in Salt Lake City following the figure skating competition. To commemorate Kwan’s contribution to the visibility of the recording, Eva’s parents Barbara and Hugh Cassidy, along with Bill Straw, president of Blix Street Records, presented her with a Gold record backstage at the Baltimore Arena on April 11th during a tour stop.' Many thanks to Sharon Weisz for sending these photos to me.
Backstage at "Champions on Ice." From left to right, Anette Cassidy, Hugh Cassidy, Elana Byrd, Bill Straw, Michelle Kwan, Maggie Haven, Barbara Cassidy, Sarah Kass (Anette's daughter), Kathy McCabe. Maggie tells me, "Bill Straw presented [the gold record] to her, Barbara thanked her and gave her a big hug and Sarah was thrilled beyond belief when Michelle pulled her close to her for a photo. Michelle chatted with us for awhile. She appears to be a very sweet young lady. It's easy to see why she has become the 'sweetheart' of so many people."
Kathy McCabe, another one of the fortunate group, recalls: "Michelle was so gracious and spent a long time with us explaining how she came to choose the music and what she feels like when she skates to it. She said it was a friend of her mother's who brought her the CD and said she should skate to that song. She listened to it and right away she knew. She said it is the best song she has ever skated to, that she feels so free and not stressed when she skates to this song, it makes her feel beautiful, and like a beautiful skater, she went on and on about it. We watched the show after that, and when Eva's voice came through the PA and Michelle skated so beautifully, it was hard to keep from crying. Bill Straw and Hugh held Barbara's hands throughout the song and though she was immensely proud I could tell she was immensely emotional too."
From left to right, Hugh Cassidy, Michelle Kwan, Bill Straw, Barbara Cassidy. Eva's mother, Barbara Cassidy, asked Michelle Kwan how she came to choose "Fields of Gold" for her exhibition skate. Michelle said that people often suggest music to her, for possible use in her skating, and that someone had given her Eva's album SONGBIRD. She had heard Sting's original version of "Fields of Gold" and liked it, but when she heard Eva's rendition of the song, she knew she wanted to skate to it, she knew it was her music. Michelle said she loved the whole album, especially "Fields of Gold."
May 13, 2002: Michelle Kwan skated to "Fields of Gold" at the "Hershey's Kisses Great American Figure Skating Challenge" which was televised in the US this past weekend. I missed it (visiting my mom for Mothers Day) but I see in the guestbook that some of Eva's fans saw it. Heather, who runs a wonderful Michelle Kwan website, sent me the following report:
"Eva was finally mentioned on the skating broadcast! They not only said that it
was Eva Cassidy's 'Fields of Gold' that she was skating to, but went into
detail about how Eva died too young, why Michelle chose this song to
skate to this season (remember, its debut was at a skating tribute to
those who died in the 1961 plane crash, which ended the lives of the
entire US figure skating team), and how Michelle received the gold
record. Here's what they said:
Peggy Fleming: She’s skating to “Fields of Gold” by Eva Cassidy who died
very young. Michelle picked this music early in the season in tribute to
lost lives and unfulfilled dreams, and it’s really taken on an whole new
meaning this season.
Terry Gannon: Eva Cassidy, by the way, passed away of Melanoma back in
1996 at the age of 33 and Michelle Kwan has been given a Gold Record by
her record label for her contribution to the visibility of the
After they said this, I thought of you, and how they finally mentioned
her! Maybe people complaining all season finally worked? ;) "
July 2002: I keep an eye on the "Seen and Heard" section of Heather's "Michelle Kwan Fan Page" because often there is a mention of Eva Cassidy. Here's a recent one: Heather cites an article in the magazine Blades on Ice 'titled "Kwan Popular as Ever," which starts off by saying that the disappointments of the past season are "tempered by the adoring response of figure skating fans around the country. 'It's pretty incredible. Every night on the Champions on Ice tour, I get a great ovation, even before I start my skating. It warms my heart,' said the 21-year old, who performs to Eva Cassidy's Fields of Gold in the show. 'It never gets old." ' For those of you who are interested in figure skating, I recommend Heather's website, especially the "fanlisting" page about "Fields of Gold."
January 20, 2002: "Fields of Gold" thrilled another television audience this weekend when Michelle Kwan (fresh from winning her seventh U.S. National title) skated yet again to Eva's recording of the Sting ballad. I haven't heard yet whether Eva's name was mentioned on the television coverage. The "Michelle Kwan Forum" fans are discussing "Fields of Gold" here. The debate is, are they disappointed that Michelle didn't debut a new exhibition program, or glad to have seen "one of the greatest programs ever," possibly "for the last time"?
The skating fans at MKF also decided that FOG is Michelle's "most skated program" with over 100 performances (including the "Champions on Ice" tour).
More about ice skating: Bill in the U.S. found a mention of Eva Cassidy in a recently-published book about skating, Christine Brennen's Champions on Ice. "What the author is doing," Bill writes, "is attempting to show a typical (if such a thing exists) day on the Tom Collins Champions on Ice figure skating tour. The day is April 12, 2002 and the location is Washington, DC. Since the Washington stop is for two days, the skaters have some free time to spend as they desire. The following entry in the 'log' is for 3:00 PM:"
'Liz Punsalan, Jerod Swallow and athletic trainer Eric Lang return to the hotel from the National Building Museum. Although they didn't have as much time as they would have liked to study the exhibits, they found themselves reminiscing on the way back to the Four Seasons (Hotel) about a similar trip seven years ago in Washington when the three of them were joined by Brian Boitano and Jill Trenary for a day of museum hopping and sightseeing. For tour veterns like Liz, Jerod and Eric, this is becoming a tradition. "Not just the sightseeing." Eric says, "but the reminiscing". When they get out of the car at the Four Seasons, they immediately step back into the reality of tour life: they bump into Rudy Galindo and Nicole Bobek, who are carrying their laundry. Liz gives Rudy an extra Eva Cassidy CD she had with her, knowing Rudy did not yet have it.'
Feb. 22, 2003: Julie in the US writes, 'I received Sunday's "Parade" section of the "Washington Post" on Friday evening. Inside the cover page is a column entitled Walter Scott's Personality Parade. People write in to ask questions about celebrities. A man from Topeka, Kansas commented that Michelle Kwan often skates to a beautiful song called "Fields of Gold" and he wanted to know who the fantastic singer was. The answer mentioned Eva died of melanoma in 1996, before she was widely appreciated. The rest of the answer goes on to say that Chris Biondo promoted her work and produced her earliest recordings and that Bill Straw of Blix Street Records released "Songbird" in 1998 and that it went gold and had Eva's version of Fields of Gold.'
Parade is a color supplement magazine that is distributed as part of the Sunday paper in many, many newspapers in the United States (including the Washington Post). In fact, according to my publicist friend Katherine, its circulation is 36 million: "Parade is the largest circulation periodical in the country (which probably means in the world)."
Early April, 2003: Michelle's last "Fields of Gold"? Congratulations to skater Michelle Kwan, who won her fifth World Championship on Saturday in Washington DC. At the post-competition gala, she again skated to Eva's "Fields of Gold." How appropriate to have the final performance of "Fields of Gold" take place in Eva's birthplace.
The Washington Post article said, 'Skating to Eva Cassidy's "Fields of Gold," in a plain gold costume, Kwan provided the grand finale for yesterday's exhibition of champions at MCI Center. Her performance, which included a double axel, a triple toe and a triple lutz, capped the week-long 2003 World Figure Skating Championships.' There's a great photo here. To read my article about the recording of "Fields of Gold," click here, and to read more about Michelle Kwan and Eva, click here.
Some comments from "Michelle Kwan Forum": Epoibim wrote, "During her skate to FoG, Michelle looked the most beautiful I had ever seen her. She shimmered as much as her gold sequins. She GLOWED. Wait till you see it. The funny thing is, no one claps during that song, it's almost sacrilege or something! People are so enthralled and experiencing, not just watching.... Get this, I heard some of the crowd SINGING! Especially at the beginning, people were humming! Kwan you believe that??!? I wonder if she heard that. All in all it was so moving for me and absolutely perfect. I secretly wanted Fields of Gold. Plus, I think it's her 101st peformance of that song! Very, very special."
Katializ wrote, "The spiral was amazing. She first did a back spiral for FOG then when she went to the ice again for an encore she did a forward spiral that covered the arena from one end to the other, a complete figure eight. I love the fact that when she finished the spiral she touched her heart when the music said 'I never made promises lightly,' and then she bowed to the crowd. It was a thrill of a lifetime."
Hans-Peter from Germany wrote to tell me, "I`ve seen Michelle Kwan iceskating to 'Fields of Gold' in Eurosport on March 31th. The German commentator said he has prepared himself with the name of the singer and the name of the CD. He had done so because he had
heared that many people are asking for the music and he must confess
that the combination of Michelle Kwan and Eva`s music is extraordinary."
Henrik in Denmark writes, "I watched the WC skating gala on Eurosport yesterday. The Danish
commentators did remember to say that Michelle was skating to Eva
Cassidy's Fields of Gold! It was beautiful as always."
From Stephen in Canada: 'I was fortunate to catch Michelle's skate on Canadian TV, and they did mention that Michelle was "skating to Fields of
Gold, sung by Eva Cassidy"... yay! finally, they announced it properly on
TV! Hopefully this will bring in a few new Canadian fans.'
In the United States, it didn't happen: Scott watched ABC's coverage, and writes, "Of course nothing can beat the smile of a five time world champ especially when Eva is singing in the background. Unfortunately there was no mention of Eva by Dick, Terry or Peggy."
June 3, 2003: Bill from the "Michelle Kwan Forum told me about a discussion thread on the forum, about a fan who had the chance to meet Michelle after a performance. "When Lexi asked Michelle what her favorite program is, Michelle replied 'Fields of Gold.'" Bill wrote a bit more about this in the Guestbook, or you can read the entire thread at MKF here.
BRIEF EVA/MICHELLE MENTION IN USA TODAY: In a wrap-up-after-the-Olympics article by Robert Bianco, he mentions some of the highlights of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics: What we can hope for, live or not, are the kind of memorable moments that capped the final stretch of NBC's winter broadcasts. Sarah Hughes falling over in joy when she learned she had won the gold medal, and then bubbling over with excitement to Bob Costas about her meeting with 'N Sync. The close-up of Michelle Kwan, crying as she skated to Eva Cassidy's plaintive version of the pointedly titled Fields of Gold.
MICHELLE KWAN TV BIOGRAPHY SHOWS EXCERPTS OF "FIELDS OF GOLD": The cable television station "A&E" showed a one-hour special about skater Michelle Kwan on its "Biography" series on October 2nd. The Michelle Kwan Fan Page now has a transcript of the program here. Eva Cassidy was not mentioned but the transcript indicates that several video clips of Kwan skating to "Fields of Gold" were shown, so presumably Eva's voice was heard. (For more information about Michelle Kwan's gorgeous skating to Eva's FOG, see the "Michelle Kwan Page". Incidentally, I asked the experts at the "Michelle Kwan Forum" about whether there are any videos commercially available that include Kwan's "Fields of Gold." Leon in Delaware replied, 'NBC sold VHS and DVDs of the 2002 Olympic Exhibition Skates which includes Michelle's powerful and emotional skate to Eva's Fields of Gold. A search of Ebay or Froogle (search:2002
Olympic Figure Skating) will likely turn up copies for sale. If you are only
interested in FOG, make sure you get "The 2002 Olympic Winter Games - Figure
Skating Exhibition" NOT "The 2002 Olympic Winter Games - The Competition."
Often these will be offered in a 2 Disc or 2 Tape set which includes both.
The COMPETITION video includes the Pairs controversy (remember that?) and
Sarah Hughes' remarkable come-from-behind Gold Medal win. The EXHIBITION
video shows Michelle's tear-filled FOG exhibition. The videos are out of print but many copies seem still available both new and used.' (Updated November 5, 2004)
KWAN'S "FIELDS OF GOLD" REMEMBERED: When figure skating legend Michelle Kwan withdrew from the Olympics due to injury, the newspapers were full of reminiscences about seeing Kwan skate -- almost as if she had died! In the Washington Post, Michael Baker of Baltimore wrote about what he considered 'arguably Ms. Kwan's most moving performance, especially for those of us in the Washington area: At the free skate following the 2002 Olympic competition, Ms. Kwan gave a beautiful performance skating to "Fields of Gold," performed by the late, locally beloved Eva Cassidy. A snippet of that performance was shown during Monday's late-night coverage of the games, but it was not so short that I didn't have time for a tear for Ms. Cassidy and one for Ms. Kwan as well.' (Added February 19, 2006)
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