This page is an archive from “What’s New” on the topic of singer Katie Melua, her song about Eva entitled “Faraway Voice,” and the many occasions she mentions Eva in her performances and interviews.
Nineteen-year-old Katie Melua’s album CALL OFF THE SEARCH was released in the United Kingdom in November, 2003. It spent several weeks at the top of the UK album charts and the single “The Closest Thing to Crazy” was also a big hit. Eva Cassidy is part of the Katie Melua story, as some of the following news items explain:
March 17, 2004: Katie Melua is still talking about Eva. Dan wrote me yesterday about an “Eva mention” as Katie’s inspiration, on the “Women’s Hour” on Radio 4. Today Pat D. has transcribed part of an interview with Katie from the “Terry & Gaby Show” on Channel Five National TV:
Terry Wogan: ‘ ….that’s how it really started and the public then swung your way fantastically. Sort of in the wake of Eva Cassidy really. ‘
Katie Melua: ‘It was, yeh definitely, I mean it’s interesting that you mention Eva because,
you know, she was such an inspiration for me… and the song that I played Mike [Batt]
for the first time when he came to my music school was a song I’d written about Eva Cassidy called ‘Faraway Voice’… and he really liked it, and so we just started working together
making the album.’
December 11, 2003: Last night BBC Radio 2 broadcast a program about new artists of 2003. (“Paul Gambaccini reviews the year in music, and interviews the new artists to emerge in 2003, and also record executives and industry commentators.”) Katie Melua is interviewed and discusses her enthusiasm for Eva’s music. (For those of you who are wondering “Who??,” this is a “hot” young singer whose new album contains a song about Eva.) Terry in the UK writes, “You can replay it from here (until next Wednesday): http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/r2music/playlist/. On this page select ‘More Shows’ on the ‘Listen again’ panel, then select ‘The Class of 2003’. The Katie interview starts at about 19 minutes into the show and she gives tribute to Eva just after 20 minutes. You can skip forward to get there if you wish. (Hit the skip foward button, 4 times, allowing time for the play to re-register between each hit.) You would be well advised not to skip forward since you will miss a very engaging interview with Jamie Cullum, who has recently become the first ever British Jazz artist to achieve a platinum album.”
Steve in York went to the trouble of transcribing the Eva-related part of the interview (thanks, Steve!). “Paul chatted to Katie and part of the interview was about Katie’s time at the Brits (music) School. She then went on to speak about Eva:
‘PG: By the time you finished, who were your favourite artists?
KM: Oh, I think my most favourite was someone called Eva Cassidy. She has influenced me hugely and I think she has an absolutely beautiful voice but I find that it’s what she does with it, the way she changes the melody and she kind of makes it her own. I love the fact that most of her recordings are live recordings and that’s pretty much unheard of at the moment.
PG: And you have written a song about her called “Faraway Voice”.
KM: That’s right, yeah. .I wrote it when I discovered that she’d passed away. To be honest, I heard her for the first time about two years ago and I thought “Oh my god! Who is this person?” I heard the Over the Rainbow track and was completely blown away. I told one of my friends “Let’s go see her live” and they said “Sorry. She’s not with us anyway”. That was really so gutting because I really feel that my generation hasn’t really had a lot of the greats and at that moment when I heard her I thought “Yes there is a chance for us to see someone in their prime time” and she slipped through the fingers so that’s how that song came about.’”
Katie Melua is still on the charts in the UK, and still cites Eva Cassidy as a major influence and inspiration. Gerard in Ireland found this “Eva mention” in the Independent: ‘She was discovered by Mike “Wombles” Batt while studying at the Brit School for Performing Arts in south London, and today, huddled over a Diet Coke, she is relaxed, happy and full of the heartfelt opinions of any ordinary 19-year-old. She grew up listening to pop acts such as the Spice Girls, and says her musical epiphany came when she discovered “the greats” – Dylan, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Eva Cassidy. “I thought the Spice Girls were hip and cool,” she says, “which they were to a 13-year-old. But then I heard Eva Cassidy’s ‘Over the Rainbow’ and it opened my eyes. I thought: ‘This sounds old-fashioned but also fresh and new.’ It made me realise my love of the Spice Girls wasn’t to do with the music.” Having discovered Cassidy, Melua began to delve into the back catalogues of artists such as Bob Dylan….’
And from Sweden, Torbjörn writes, ‘Katie Melua is on a promotion tour to Stockholm and she was interviewed on the Swedish radio P4. Rather soon they got on to the subject how Katie is influenced by Eva. Katie was asked: “Could you become a new Eva Cassidy?” Katie said “No, I don’t think anybody will ever take her place. She is in her own league. When I first heard her sing I thought ‘Wow, here we finally got an artist of our time that we and our children can be proud of!’ Because I always thought that all the great singers lived decades ago. And I said to my friends: ‘We must go and listen to Eva when she comes to England!’ It was so sad to know she had passed away so I wrote the song Faraway voice not only to honor Eva but also other great artists that died young.” Then they played “Faraway voice” AND “People get ready” with Eva. It was really nice to listen to Katie. She sounded as an humble and honest young person.’
(I hope that Katie’s fans are taking the hint and discovering Eva’s music in addition to Katie’s!)
Thanks again, Katie: Here’s another noteworthy “Eva Mention” from an interview with Katie Melua in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Critic Gene Stout writes, ‘Inspiration came from diverse sources — Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, among others. But no one has inspired her more than the late Eva Cassidy, a remarkable, if little known, singer-songwriter from the Washington, D.C., area who died of cancer in 1996 and has since become a bit of a cult figure. “I first heard her music about two or three years ago when I was down about the music industry and really felt that my generation didn’t have any great artists like my parents had had,” Melua said. “When I first heard (Cassidy) sing ‘Over the Rainbow,’ I thought, ‘Oh, my God, finally there’s someone.’ Her voice was completely breathtaking. I’d never heard anything like it. It was so pure. I was amazed that she would dare record one of the most famous songs of all time, which had already been sung by an amazing singer, and twist it upside down and add different shades to it.” Melua later turned to a friend and said, “We’ve got to go hear this Eva Cassidy girl sing live.’ And someone said, ‘Sorry, she passed away a few years ago.’ I thought it was so heartbreaking because we were so close to having someone that would have been one of the greats of my generation.” Melua wrote a tribute song for Cassidy, “Faraway Voice,” that appears on her debut album.’
MORE ABOUT KATIE MELUA’S NORTH AMERICAN TOUR: Jonathan in Massachusetts, one of the first “regulars” on this website, writes: ‘It is lovely to see Eva continuing to spread around the world just by word of mouth. So I’ve come to enjoy this new UK singer Katie Melua that many people on your guestbook have mentioned. She just played a very small venue in Boston over the weekend as part of her US tour, and I was lucky enough to see her from the front row. It was quite a small club—maybe only 100 people in the audience and many were British (apparently now in the UK they can only see her in a large arena, so many came to Boston to see her like this). Well, she opened the concert by saying “this first song is dedicated to Eva Cassidy,” which is a song off of her album called “Faraway Voice.” Then at the end of the concert she came back out to do an encore, and the song was “Anniversary Song.” Before she sang this she said that she wanted to do a cover of a song that Eva Cassidy had done (the singer she mentioned in the beginning), and that Eva’s version was spectacular and could be found on the “Time After Time” album, which she urged people to check out. After the concert she greeted me and signed my album, and I told her what a great job she’d done, and that I’d been turned onto her through other Eva Cassidy fans, and she seemed quite touched. Her version of Anniversary Song was lovely.
Well it’s been six years now that I’ve been an Eva fan, and I still love her music just as much and continue to spread the word!’
Summer 2004: Here’s a quotation from Katie Melua’s website, in which Katie writes about her recent North American tour: “The most special and memorable show for me in the USA was at the Birchmere
in Washington because that was the place where Eva Cassidy had played
when she was alive. I spoke with the owner of the venue for a long time and
asked him annoying questions about her performances there. He was very
pleasant to me. When I got up on stage I felt quite emotional.”
In the UK, chart-topper Katie Melua is much in the news, with many “by the way” mentions of Eva Cassidy such as this one from the UK wire services: ‘Katie’s influences are Queen,
Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Eva Cassidy, Irish folk and Indian music.’ Sometimes the articles are a bit more interesting. Check out this one from the Independent. The phrases that caught my attention are: ‘Two years ago, Melua was studying for a BTec and A-level in music at the Brit School for Performing Arts in Croydon. Batt came along and was blown away when he heard her singing “Faraway Voice”, a song she wrote about and dedicated to Eva Cassidy, the cult American singer who died of cancer in 1996…. The first time she heard Cassidy, singing “Over the Rainbow” (her mother had put on a compilation tape), she was over the moon – until someone pointed out that Cassidy, too, was dead. “I wrote “Faraway Voice” about Eva Cassidy, but also about my generation, who haven’t experienced the great artists. You know, the likes of Bob Dylan or The Beatles in their prime.”‘ ALSO — this doesn’t mention Eva but I love it anyway — ‘Melua records all her music live, and finds it unimaginably sad that radio stations are shocked when she arrives with her guitar and asks: “Would you like me to sing a song?” She continues: “I think that is the most bog-standard thing any successful artist should be able to do. But my rivals… Someone like Britney Spears doesn’t just rely on her vocal ability. She relies on other things, like her dancing. I can’t dance to save my life.”‘
KATIE MELUA PERFORMS “ANNIVERSARY SONG”: In a few days, Katie Melua’s record company will be releasing a special CD/DVD package. The description on Amazon.co.uk states, ‘This special edition of Call off the Search features a bonus DVD entitled Onstage and Backstage that includes a rendition of the Cure’s “Love Cats” and Eva Cassidy’s “Anniversary Song”.’ OK, if you’re a regular reader here you can predict my next comment — yes, here it is — Eva didn’t write that song! It was written by Maryland songwriter Steven Digman. But it’s lovely that Eva’s music inspired Katie Melua not only to write a song about Eva (“Faraway Voice,”) but to perform this beautiful song which she learned from Eva’s recordings. (Fall 2004)
DUET IMPOSSIBLE: Singer Katie Melua performs a duet with a videotape of Eva singing “Over the Rainbow” as part of a British television program called “Duet Impossible.” The program will be shown on BBC1 on Christmas Eve at 5.45pm. If you follow this link and then click to view the slideshow, you can see a photo of Katie and Eva, the fifth image in the slideshow. **UPDATE: Many people seem to have enjoyed this very much. (December 2006)
EVA + KATIE = NUMBER ONE! According to the BBC News, ‘”What A Wonderful World,” Katie Melua’s charity duet with the late Eva Cassidy, has displaced Leona Lewis at the top of the UK singles chart after seven weeks. The song sees Melua, 23, sing with her musical idol, who died of cancer in 1996. Profits from sales of the single go to the British Red Cross. “Thank you to everyone who has shown such festive goodwill,” said the star. ‘ Eva has had number one albums on the UK charts on several occasions, but this is the first #1 single. Congratulations! “What a Wonderful World” was written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss, and first recorded by Louis Armstrong. For more information about Eva’s connection with the song, read my article. (Added December 16, 2007)