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In chronological order, this page lists items about Eva Cassidy tributes and/or imitators (originally found on the “What’s New” page). When a performer uses Eva’s vocal arrangements, which is happening more and more with the current popularity of vocal competitions on television, they will be listed here. Also included here are songs about Eva and cases where Eva is mentioned in another artist’s song. Exception: British superstar Eva fan Katie Melua has her own archive page here.
Updated February 18, 2007
May 3, 2001: Tony Bramwell spotted this one: “I thought you might like this advert from this weeks STAGE — it’s like VARIETY in the States”:
with the looks and voice of
for leading UK agency and concert promoters.
Please forward tape/CD/demo to:
PO BOX 2839,LONDON W1K 5LE
THE FIRST TELEVISION TALENT SHOW APPEARANCE OF AN EVA CASSIDY SONG: August 13, 2001: I have been receiving reports from the UK about an ITV television “talent show” called “This Is My Moment” in which a young singer named Amba Tremaine won a huge cash prize for her performance of Eva’s arrangement of “Over the Rainbow.” Did anybody see this program? What do you think about this? Feel free to add your comments to the guestbook. Lois Gerard of Blix Street Records says “I always knew that generations of singers would be copying Eva….you can quote me. I said this before Songbird was actually released.”
UPDATE: Steve in York writes, “Remember Amba Tremain who won well over £100,000 in a TV talent show singing a (did Chris B. say a flat?) copy of Eva’s version of ‘Over The Rainbow’? Ever wonder what she did with the cash? I just caught the last few minutes of a documentary on TV about showbiz cheats in the form of would-be managers. It would seem that Amba fell foul of one such maggot who ripped her off. Hopefully you’ll hear from someone who saw the whole show. It said something about her pulling off a West-end show, no thanks to the guy who she paid to work for her.” The television program was something called “UK’s Worst,” on September 1, 2003.
FURTHER UPDATE: Gary in Wales apparently saw the whole program. He says, ‘Yes, Amba got taken for a ride, but what I found interesting is that she made a demo CD comprising three versions of OTR: the full acoustic version, the radio edit and the “Club” version – the mind boggles!’ Here is the text from an article about the scam that appeard in the Daily Mirror. Here are some quotes: TV star-search winner Amba Tremain has told how she lost £30,000 to conmen offering fame. Amba, 22, said: “They promised me the earth and all they did was take my money.” Classically-trained singer Amba won about £150,000 on Granada’s This is My Moment talent show…. She was introduced to the Grosvenor Music Group, run by Livingston Smith and side-kick Mark Smartt. Smith hides behind numerous mobile phone numbers and operates from a business accommodation address in Swindon, Wilts. He promised Amba a recording contract with a major label, in return for £5,000 a month payments. All she got was a gym membership and a few days in a studio for a demo. Amba, who has an 18-month-old child and lives with her fiance in Cowplain, Hants, said: “They seemed more interested in getting me fit than anything. I was introduced to a voice coach, but our first meeting was in the back of her car. In my one lesson, the keyboard didn’t work properly and neither did the tape or microphones.” After she handed over the last of her £5,000 monthly cheques to Smith, his company was dissolved. “I’ve been taken for an expensive ride,” said Amba. “I feel such a mug.”
Singer Lesley Curtis has been touring with a program called “A Musical Tribute to Eva Cassidy” for several years. Dave in Reading attended one of the performances and sent me this excellent report:
‘The show opened shortly after 8:05 pm with the singer walking on stage with her four piece band – Guitar, bass, drums and electronic keyboards. The singer, Lesley Curtis, bore a strong resemblence to Eva. Her hair was blonde, straight and just longer than shoulder length, the way Eva’s is in many of her photographs. Lesley seemed to be of average height and perhaps a little heavier in build than Eva.
The first number was “Wayfaring Stranger”. Lesley’s voice was very similar in character to that of Eva’s particularly when singing quieter passages. The louder phrases sounded noticably more gritty than Eva’s voice. The first number ended with applause from the Hexagon audience which on the ground floor at least was around 80% full to capacity. The balconies however, were almost empty.
The second number started when the applause had finished (I’ve now forgotten what it was!), and after the following round of applause, Lesley then first spoke to the audience. She said that she had first heard Eva on the Bob Harris show (BBC radio 2) when driving home one night from one of her gigs. She had been knocked out by Eva’s voice and wanted to find out about her.
From that point on, Lesley related various anecdotes concerning Eva, beginning with Eva’s history, between songs. I thought that Lesley was slightly nervous and lacked some confidence. As the evening progressed, she did indeed become more confident and towards the very end of the performance some of the grittyness in her voice disappeared.
After the first few numbers the guitarist changed from electric to
amplified acoustic guitar. One of the highpoints of the evening for me was
“Fields of Gold” played with acoustic guitar. The initial “Ooooh” vocal
was a bit shaky but Lesley quickly recovered and went on to give a very
sensitive rendition of the song. Most enjoyable. It seemed that electric
and acoustic guitars were then alternated on many subsequent numbers.
“Songbird” was unique in that this was the only song where Lesley herself
picked up a guitar. I hate to say it but it was obvious that Lesley is no
guitar player, her playing was inaudible. That did not detract from her
overall performance and the song was very warmly received by the audience.
The first set lasted for 45 minutes and was enjoyed by the people of
Reading. After a 20 minute interval, the entertainment got going again
with “Blue Skies”. It seemed as if Lesley and the band had stepped up a
gear. This song received the strongest applause so far and Lesley looked
very pleased. The audience appreciation grew with nearly every song – I
think that that helped Lesley to relax and overcome her nervousness. The
band got quite a groove going in this song and in the other jazz (and
blues) numbers. Notable highlights for me were “Wade in the Water”,
“People Get Ready” and “Oh Had I a Golden Thread”.
At one point Lesley talked about Chuck Brown and then sang “I’ll Go Crazy”
with the guitarist taking Chuck’s vocal. Lesley must have performed most
if not all of the Songbird album and many songs from the others including
“Waly Waly”, “What a Wonderful World” (Lesley’s favourite), “Tall Trees in
Georgia”, “Time After Time” and others.
I was very impressed with the band, they played superbly especially on the
jazz numbers. No backing tracks were used as far I could tell. The guitar
and keyboard solos were all very sensitively done. Alot of time and
trouble must have gone into the arrangements. The keyboard player directed
the rest of the band when winding up many of the songs. I don’t remember
the names of the band members, though Lesley did introduce them near the
end of the evening (The spotlight operator must have had trouble either
hearing or understanding what Lesley was saying as the spotlight
consistently played on the wrong person!).
Predictably, after the 60 minute second set, the encore was “Over the
Rainbow”. Lesley said “Oh, was there something else?” when she returned to
the stage for the encore. For me, this was a bit disappointing – I knew
it was going to be, nothing can compare with the sheer breath taking
perfection of Eva’s solo accompaniment version of the song as performed in
Despite this it had been my most enjoyable evening out for a very long
time. I’m no musician, but I know what I like. This had been an
opportunity for some of us to do the impossible and take a glimpse at Eva’s
music performed live. Well done Lesley Curtis and the boys.’
Dave, thanks for this information! I’d love to hear from other people who have attended these performances, though I still think the concept is very strange. As someone who was fortunate enough to attend many performances by the real Eva and the real Eva Cassidy Band, I can’t help remembering all those weeknight gigs at mostly-empty crummy bars . . . .
EVA TRIBUTE ACT IN NORWAY: Norwegian singer Vigdis Lunde Wisur has prepared a “Tribute to Eva Cassidy” which will be performed at a music club called Gleng Musikkforum in the town of Sarpsborg (some 50 miles south of Oslo) at 9 p.m. on February 21, 22 and 23 (2001? 2002?). I have learned that Vigdis and her guitarist husband saw the “Nightline” program about Eva on Norwegian television a few months ago. Both were enthralled by the music and the story of Eva’s short career, and were inspired to create a Tribute concert which will be presented three times in Sarpsborg.
Frank Wisur tells me, “We’re going to present 19 songs,- the band is guitar, keyboard, bass and
drums, and we managed to get a professional string quartet to join us on seven of
the songs. Think it will be wonderful. Vigdis does NOT play the guitar, — she ‘only’
sings. The band will be dressed in black, Vigdis will also be in a black
dress. Apart from professional lightning and sound, there will be
candles on stage. On a big screen in the back of the stage, we will show
black & white pictures, mostly scenery, but also pictures of Eva…. We would like to ‘paint’
an honest and respectful picture of Ms Eva…. We’ve been working so close to her, in a way, now in two months that we almost feel as if we knew her a bit. Just a feeling, of course….” The event has received funding from a Norwegian cultural fund which enabled them to engage the string quartet.
Vigdis’ sister Marianne sent me more material about Vigdis: ‘She is a well known/used artist in the county of Østfold, but has had different performances other places in Norway. She also was the leading singer on the skating-arena at the olympic games on Lillehammer in 1994. She has been called by journalists the new “Aretha Franklin” and “Soul-queen” (from shows like “Soul Train” and “Sweet Soul Music”), but has also got enthusiastic reviews for other performances. In 1995 she started a band with, now her husband. After three years playing on different dancing-arenas, they released a live self-finaced CD with cover-versions of songs sang by Carlene Carter (Every little thing), Pointer Sisters (I`m so excited), The Carpenters (Yesterday once more), Van Morrison (Have I told you lately) and Janis Joplin (Mercedes Benz) and so. It sold in almost 1000 copies.’
Vigdis Wisur said in an interview in the Sarpsborg Arbeiderblad (local newspaper), “When I for the first time heard Eva Cassidy sing, I thought, this is what I want to do.” The article said, ‘She mentions songs like “Fields of gold” and “Somewhere over the rainbow” and says that this is a more quiet music-type than she has been doing lately.’ Marianne Lunde Braathe says of her sister (or perhaps this is a quote from a newspaper article?), “One of her many musical ideals is Aretha Franklin. But even if the artist’s personal expression in many ways is inspiring, Vigdis is more inspired with different songs. She tries however not to copy the artist. I like to listen to almost all kind of music, she says and smiles. She smiles a lot, Vigdis, when she tell us about her musical career so far, and that she really thinks that interviews and reviews is very sinister and strange. But she is her self’s worst critic. She is humble, but charming. A rare personality, if you may say.” She sounds a bit like my cousin Eva.
The concerts will take place at a music club called Gleng Musikkforum in the town of Sarpsborg, Norway (some 50 miles south of Oslo) at 9 p.m. on February 21, 22 and 23. Marianne writes, “When Vigdis decided to do this show, she told me that she had no wish to copy Eva Cassidy. There`s only one Eva Cassidy, she said. She just wants to tribute Eva Cassidy for the fantastic way she performed the music. Her wish for the show is also to do the thing that she like the most, namely to sing, and to try to get more people to hear about Eva Cassidy and buy her music.” If anyone reading this can make it to Sarpsborg next week, let me know how it goes!
UPDATE: Vigdis’ sister Marianne tells me, ‘In my opinion the show was fantastic, and I saw many wet eyes during the show. Vigdis talked about Eva, her family and life with laughter and cry in her voice.
The music was beautifully arranged, and the show where tastefully put together. The show contained songs like “Over the rainbow”, “Time after time”, “Fields of gold”, “Autumn leaves”,”Honeysuckle Rose”, “I know you by heart” (beautifyll with string quartet), “Songbird”, “Ain`t now sunshine”, “People get ready” and many more. There where candle lights on the stage, and in the background they where showing pictures of Eva, her art and Norwegian scenery pictures taken by Terje Jensen. The show ended with the song “What a wonderfull world” and Vigdis saying “God bless you, Eva Cassidy”. The audience realy seemed to enjoy the show, and you could hear rhythmical applause after each number. After the show there where standing ovations. I think that Vigdis achieved what she wanted, and we all wish this will open more eyes for Eva Cassidy and her music.’
VIGDIS WISUR WEB SITE: Norwegian singer Vigdis Wisur now has her own website, with text in both Norwegian and English. (Click on the Union Jack for the English version.) Many of you will recall that Vigdis has been performing her own “Tribute to Eva Cassidy” in Norway. The new website includes audio and video clips from her show. Vigdis and her husband Frank sent me a CD of the program, and I enjoyed it very much.
“STARS IN THEIR EYES”: AUGUST 2002: Glynne in the UK writes, ‘Just reading my TV guide today and on Saturday 31st August, ITV, 6.50pm “Stars in their Eyes” – a “soundalike” show is kicking off a 5 part run for contestants who are under 16. Someone is being “Songbird Eva Cassidy” this first week…and all contestants will “battle for a place in the end-of-series live final”.
From the photo in my guide Charlotte Gethin is the one being Eva – she is blonde and wears a side plait and a denim shirt/jacket. This is not a programme I usually watch and I guess she will be singing “OTR”… but she is pictured with a guitar – and I have been longing to see an Eva impersonator who can actually sing and play guitar! I will let you know how it goes.’ Keith adds, ‘The standard of impersonations on the adult version of the show is usually quite good, but the idea of a youngster “doing” her is interesting to say the least.’ Tony Bramwell says, “Some months ago I gave them a video of RAINBOW so I suppose that’s what they will copy.”
UPDATE: The “Eva imitator” won (this preliminary round)! Michele writes, “There was a girl of about 15 who impersonated Eva singing ‘Over the Rainbow’. She was dressed like her and made up to look like her. She did a brilliant impression and WON! How wonderful that Eva’s music is reaching young people as well!” (Julie says the winner was 14. And Charlie adds, “In a blonde wig Ms Geffin did sing beautifully – OTR to Eva’s arrangment – and had mum and dad blubbering in the aisles. She now goes through to the final with 1st round winner Donny Osmond.”) Rupert Smith of the Guardian Newspaper wrote, ‘Winner Charlotte Geffen “did” Eva Cassidy, beating off a Michael Jackson and a Lena Zavaroni, which just goes to prove that dying in obscurity trumps anorexia or mental instability.’ Many thanks to Gary who provided the screen shot of Charlotte Gethin, above left.
“STARS IN YOUR EYES” FINALS: October 5, 2002: SHE WON! Julie wrote in the Guestbook, “On UK TV tonight, with her rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Charlotte Gethen aged 14 has won the children’s version of ‘Stars in
Your Eyes’ It was a landslide victory with over 200,000 votes.” Michelle says, “She was spectacular and did Eva’s memory proud! This is fantastic news as it will bring Eva further into the public eye! Wonderful, wonderful news! Well done Charlotte!” Earlier today, before Charlotte’s victory had been announced, Charlie in Norwich wrote to me, “Win or lose, she’s a real star. When she’d finished there was a nice video tribute from Hugh and Barbara which reduced Charlotte to tears – a less macho man than I might even have shed one or two!” People have been making big money by imitating Eva Cassidy, amounts of money Eva herself never dreamed of (see above). That’s OK. Eva wouldn’t mind, though she would never in a million years do a contest like that herself. If I may take the liberty of guessing what Eva’s attitude might be, perhaps she would think it’s refreshing that a pretty teenager was voted into first place for her good singing, not for dressing like a living Barbie Doll?
MORE: Simon in the UK sent me a few links pertaining to young Charlotte Gethin’s recent prize-winning performance of Eva’s arrangement of “Over the Rainbow” (these may be obsolete by now):
an article from October 4th, on the eve of the program’s final round; and this article from the Express and Star on October 7th. (The headline of the latter article is “Pot of gold for songbird.”) And finally, an article from the BBC’s website.
I spoke with Eva’s mother Barbara Cassidy tonight — yes, she still lives in Bowie and is doing fine. About Charlotte Gethin’s recent talent show win, she commented, “She is a lovely little girl. She has dark hair so they put an Eva-look-alike wig on her, and a denim jacket. She has a wonderful voice.”
EVA CASSIDY TRIBUTE EVENT IN AUSTRALIA (See photo at right, from the dress rehearsal) September 2002: A fan from Australia writes, “I just got in from the ‘Eva By Heart’ tribute at Gosford, on the Central Coast, performed by Lucy McIntosh. It was beautiful – I got shivers at times (didn’t expect that) even teary at times and was impressed by
their youth and dedication. Let’s hope there are more like this in the world who reverently share the life of Eva and spread the good word. The set list spoke clearly of the narrative through which they based the show – it was cabaret which made it hard to adjust to in the first song or two – but then it felt like a wonderfully fitting tribute to Eva. The main guy played Chris Biondo and he was also the narrator. He also took the role of Chuck Brown in The Other Side duets – it was very well done. They were exceptional in their interpretation of Eva’s life, and what blew me away was, it was from the deepest end of the earth and it was quite fab. Noone could interpret Eva and I was most impressed because she didn’t try to – but she did put together a fab stage play.”
UPDATE: Lucy McIntosh contacted me and said that the show was a big success. She wrote, “Wow!! What a response. Doing two sell-out shows on Saturday in cabaret style, I have already had eager people wanting to put it on in other, larger venues! What a way to tell Australia about Eva Cassidy! I know dozens of people that have been out and about buying her CDs this morning! I could never compare to an angel’s voice, but I hope Eva was looking down thinking I was doing justice to her beautiful songs…” Lucy later told me, “The show has been very talked about in my small hometown of Gosford!! The theatre I performed it at have asked me to come back for another weekend (back by popular demand! I hope Eva can see all this happening!) I’ve only got two weeks til it’s on – 5th and 6th October…so it’s back to rehearsing already! Will keep writing to let you know how it’s all going!” Lucy McIntosh will be repeating her “Eva By Heart” show in North Gosford at the Laycock St. Theatre on the following dates: 5th October at 9 pm, and 6th October at 4pm (with a possible 9pm show).
Regarding the photo (above right), which Lucy sent me, I am assuming that the blonde woman with the feather boa is Eva, more glamorous than I ever saw her before? And the guy in the shades must be the versatile Chris Biondo/Chuck Brown character. I can’t guess who the other two women are.
ANOTHER EVA TRIBUTE IN NORWAY: OCTOBER 2002: Tone Fyhn Nordeng wrote to Darren at BIRDpages to tell him about this event, and he forwarded the message to me. Tone writes, “LISTEN TO THIS: Sunday 13. October May-Rita Vildgren is going to have a concert in a place called Skarven. With her there are three of the very best musicians in town. She is going to tell the story of Eva and sing the songs like Eva did. It is going to be a fabulous evening in a small town called Tromsø [Norway].” I have written to Tone and I hope that she or May-Rita will give me more information.
UPDATE: March 4, 2003: Another Eva tribute singer: A few months ago we heard about a Norwegian singer named May-Rita Vildgren who was performing some sort of Eva Cassidy tribute show in Tromsø. Henrik in Denmark found an article about Vildgren in the “Folkebladet” and translated it for us (. The original Norwegian article can be found here. The following are a few excerpts in English:
A year and a half ago, May Rita Vildgren heard a song on the radio. It was to turn this Gibostad woman’s life completely upside down. Because the song gave May Rita the courage to set free the song she had locked away inside herself.
– When I heard that incredibly emotional melody and that awesome voice, I was completely bowled over. I got hold of a record. The more I heard the more determined I became: I had to make a concert, a tribute to Eva Cassidy, May Rita says….
Gradually as she became acquainted with the person behind the voice, it became a motivating factor for her to tell the story of this extraordinary lady who died much too early….
She set to work. It was to take eight months of grueling practice and “fine tuning” of her vocal chords. For May Rita Vildgren had not sung for years. She had suppressed her great talent for a long time. And Cassidy’s material was demanding.
This fall she was ready to go on stage again. It happened at Skarven in Tromsø in front of a sellout crowd. May Rita’s concert in memory of Eva Cassidy, for which she chose the name «by my heart», was a success.
WELSH TRIBUTE ARTIST: Doug in Pennsylvania has discovered another artist who does an Eva Cassidy program. This one is a Welsh singer named Karen Noble. Anybody know anything more about her? UPDATE: Bill in Scranton explored Karen Noble’s website more thoroughly than I did, and noted that she has photos of her various disguises in the “Gallery” section. Alas, she looks nothing like Eva, but she gets points for trying, I guess.
EVA’S ARRANGEMENTS ON UK TELEVISION AGAIN: September, 2002: From Agent Steve in York: “Just when I thought it was safe to return to TV viewing without having to look out for Eva impersonators, last Saturday there was a new talent show of auditions for a new popstar (Geri Halliwell on the panel of judges) and one hopeful was sent out of the room and asked to come back with a different song. [Bless] me if she didn’t sing the jazzed-up version of Wayfaring Stranger we know and love from EVA BY HEART!”
UPDATE: September 14, 2002: Glynne in the UK writes, ‘The show “Agent Steve in York” watched a couple of weeks ago is still on and tonight someone was asked back after performing some of Eva’s “Fields of Gold”.’ I guess Eva-imitating is the latest big thing on UK television?
AMERICAN IDOL: EVA’S “OTR” GOES MAINSTREAM? September 24, 2002: Sheila e-mailed me last night to tell me that one of the “American Idol” finalists sang Eva’s version of “Over the Rainbow” on Fox Television’s latest “American Idol” special. This morning Glynne in the UK saw a clip from the show on UK breakfast television program “Rise,” and says that the reporter said “Not a dry eye in the place.” “Evafan25” of the Yahoo Group gave a fuller report: “Tamyra Gray performed Eva’s version of ‘Over the Rainbow’ almost note for note on ‘American Idol’ tonight. She handled the belt very well, but when it came to softening the vocal down again, she tried, but couldn’t pull it off. And her voice just wasn’t pure enough to even come close to beauty Eva brought to the song. Incidentally, the guitar player was either a big show-off or not terribly bright because instead of putting a capo on the first fret (like Eva) he kept his pointer finger over the first fret through the whole song which makes it impossible to do much of the things that Eva did with her guitar on that song.” What do you think about this? Is it an outrageous ripoff or the ultimate compliment? Feel free to express your thoughts in the Guestbook (watch your language, though).
MORE ABOUT “AMERICAN IDOL”: Pop culture critic Kirk Baird of the Las Vegas Sun mentioned Tamyra Gray’s “Over the Rainbow” in this column. Here’s the part about Eva’s OTR: ‘Imagine a two-hour Super Bowl halftime show —
without inventive commercials — and you have some idea of what to look forward to when the “American Idol in Vegas” airs locally at 8 p.m. on KVVU Channel 5. It was — and remains, with its subsequent nationwide tour — a group of talented and talentless teens and early twentysomethings vocally strutting their stuff, usually with little conviction or soul.
For example: Tamyra Gray, a sentimental favorite of the audience because she was booted from the show despite her impressive singing ability, completely missed the point on her rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” With a lone guitar as accompaniment, it seemed as if Gray was trying to evoke the ghost of the late songstress Eva Cassidy and her heart-rending cover of the Judy Garland classic. Instead, the “American Idol” performer’s powerful pipes simply overmatched the song, strangling its warmth and delicacy.’
AMERICAN IDOL, CONTINUED: People keep asking me, “Is this legal, just to swipe Eva’s arrangement without so much as an acknowledgement? Does Eva’s estate receive any payment?” I asked a lawyer who works with Eva’s parents, and got this informal reply: ‘[Eva’s parents] get nothing whatsoever when Eva is mimicked. Harold Arlen gets mechanical royalties for the song he created, but Eva receives nothing for “interpretation or adaptation” of a song, unless that song is traditional/ public domain. Then, we claim her as the arranger of the traditional song and she does get mechanical royalties on her own records and from printing her version in songbooks. If this contestant had sung “Danny Boy” Eva’s way, or “Wayfaring Stranger”, we could be looking at a little bit of money, but not much.’
GUESTBOOK REACTIONS: May 15, 2003: Two people wrote in the Guestbook last night about Tamyra Gray’s performance of “Over the Rainbow” on “American Idol” last night. Barb in Brooklyn reported, ‘It’s 8:45 pm and I’m watching “American Idol” on Fox. A contestant from last season, Tamyra Gray, just sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The singing, as well as all the guitar work, was nothing short of a xerox of Eva Cassidy’s version. Gray’s emulation confirms the remarkable talent and musical contribution of Eva Cassidy.’ Julie in Illinois wrote, ‘As soon as the opening notes to “Over the Rainbow” were strummed by an acoustic guitar I just
knew it was going to be Eva’s version – AND IT WAS!!!!!! ‘
Commentary from the Webmaster: I know that a lot of people are annoyed (outraged, furious, incensed) that Ms. Gray did not acknowledge that she was performing Eva’s special arrangement of the song. Simmer down, everyone — she didn’t mention Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, who wrote the song, either. In the context of that type of show, songwriters and arrangers are not cited, period. Legally, the copyright of the song belongs to the songwriters and their estates, and somebody else’s arrangement is fair game without remuneration. However, if “American Idol” decides to use this version of the song on an album, legalities aside, it would be IMMORAL for them not to mention Eva somewhere in the album booklet. Just my opinion.
“AMERICAN IDOL” — THE DISCUSSION CONTINUES: Another reaction to Tamyra Gray’s performance of Eva’s arrangement of “Over the Rainbow” on “American Idol,” from a friend who knew Eva and is very familiar with her recordings: “My co-worker brought in the American Idol tape and we just watched it. OH – MY – GOD. Tamyra just blatantly ripped off Eva’s version. Almost note for note. Even the guitar part is pretty much identical to Eva’s arrangement. Unbelievable. If she puts this on her album I’d call it plagiarism.” Yes, but did Tamyra sing it well? To me, that is an important question.
Update to the above: OK, I have now seen the video. And I was right, the important question was whether Tamyra sang it well. She didn’t. It was not good. In fact, it was ghastly. Even a great singer can have an off day or make an inappropriate song choice, and I wish Tamyra Gray every success in her career, but this was not a performance for which she should be remembered. Oh well.
AUSTRALIAN TALENT: November 2002: Libby in Australia wrote in the Guestbook, “My daughter, who I believe has a beautiful singing voice, recently sang Eva’s version of Over The Rainbow in an eisteddfod gaining 1st place!” Congratulations to Libby’s daughter!
TRIBUTE DISC? NO: June 2003: This is a different sort of Eva Cassidy tribute, which Henrik in Denmark spotted on the German Amazon, Amazon.de. It is entitled Blowing In The Wind: A Tribute To The Spirit Of Eva Cassidy, released by Klone UK, 2002 (Klone 122)…. Klone UK made sure people have to take a closer look to notice that this CD is not in fact by Eva herself.” Sure enough, the name EVA CASSIDY is in large letters, and the disclaimer “a tribute to the spirit of” is comparatively small. Basically this CD seems to be a complete ripoff. The title, the songs, and the artists all have little or nothing to do with Eva Cassidy.
“TEEN IDOL” REPERTOIRE: March 28, 2003: From Henrik in Denmark: ‘At the “Teen Idol” talent competition for youngsters between 14 and 18 in Warwickshire, England, would-be competitors will have to sing a verse and chorus from one of the following songs: “All Rise” by Blue, “She’s The One” by Robbie Williams, “Rollercoaster” by Ronan Keating, “Can’t Fight The Moonlight” by LeAnn Rimes, “Over The Rainbow” by Eva Cassidy, “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Steps or “Yesterday” by The Beatles (see the article here ). Auditions begin on April 5.’ Thanks, Henrik! I visited the Teen Idol website and was pleased to see that the promoters are attempting to establish a sense of proportion in its competitors. They write, ‘WHAT ABOUT WHEN IT’S ALL OVER? Whatever point you reach, we hope this event will have had an effect on you. If it just encourages and inspires you to go on to try other things – then we will have achieved our aim. We hope you all are given enough to get you onto the next rung of your individual goals. There are really no “winners” or “losers” in music – just people having fun with what they can do. Most of us are never going to be a “big star” … so what! That has got nothing to do with enjoying our own talents and giving pleasure to those around us.’
CHARLOTTE GETHIN LIVE: April 27, 2003: Gary writes, “This appeared in the Manchester Evening News “Go” guide:
‘Ex-A1 singer Paul Marazzi and Key 103’s Jo Good host an event in aid of Andy Cole Children’s Foundation and Oxfam. Acts include Boysterous, winner of Junior Stars in their Eyes, Charlotte Gethin and The Tribe….’ I just wonder if she’s going to do the whole show as Eva.” UPDATE: Gary attended, and reported, “All together, a very good evening in support of a very good cause…. Charlotte was the second act of the night. Jo Good reminded everybody of her success as Eva, but said that she would be appearing as herself. She came on, dressed as you would expect a typical teenager to dress, and sang to a backing track. She did five songs, all covers, but none of Eva’s (unless Eva did any Bryan Adams or Tina Turner numbers that never got recorded)…. She does indeed have a good voice of her own (if in need of a bit of polish).”
VIGDIS WISUR CONTINUES TO PEFORM HER TRIBUTE TO EVA CASSIDY: May 15, 2003: More news from Vigdis Wisur in Norway! Her husband Frank writes, “We did a showcase
in the Capitol, Oslo, 10. of March, which went excellent! That immediately
led to more concerts on the second biggest city in Norway, Bergen. We
performed at the same actual stage as the famous norwegian classical composer,
Edward Grieg, performed 100 years ago. Everywhere we go, people embrace the
music and the songs Eva gave us. Vigdis has now also appeared on national television as a result of this. Not doing Eva songs, but more like a musical- quiz program (know what I
mean?). The national television -NRK – would like to do some more,
looking closer at the tribute Vigdis is doing.”
AUSTRALIAN EVA TRIBUTES CONTINUE: May 21, 2003: Lucy McIntosh of Australia e-mailed me: ‘I was in contact with you about 6 months ago or so regarding my tribute show to Eva, “Eva By Heart”. It was a great success, and I wanted to let you know that the theatre has asked me to perform it again for two weekends in July. It’d be great to let Eva’s Aussie fans know about it – it’ll be much similar to the last production, but with more songs and more about her life. I’ve continued to find out as much as I can and own all the cds, the
biography, videos and scrapbooks of articles. I’d love to know if there’s any new information out, but I check your website all the time. Eva’s music is gradually becoming more known over here and hopefully my show will help people discover her music.” The theater in question, I presume, is the Laycock Street Theatre in North Gosford.
Just noticed this one in an old Guestbook entry: November 3, 2002: Annie in Sussex wrote, ‘Last night on ITV, the largest commercial channel in the UK, a programme called Popstars – the Rivals was transmitted (yes, it’s almost
back-to-back reality TV here these days). Won’t bore you with the details; suffice to say it’s another ‘talent’ spotting show. A number of female wannabe-stars sang solo and live with a little bit of help from backing singers (the other contestants) and musicians. Most were average and a couple were quite good. Then the last lady, Nadine (a 17 yr old Irish lass), came on to sing ‘Fields of Gold’ in the Eva Cassidy arrangement. It was a very lovely rendition somewhat stunted by the fact that she could only sing one chorus and verse. Accompanied only by a backing guitar pretty much in keeping with Eva’s guitar arrangement, Nadine really gave it her all at the end of the song. This is a knock-out (as in rules rather than quality) competition, via telephone
votes from the public and as such we are not told how many people voted for each contestant. Nevertheless, it was pretty obvious from the audience’s response that Nadine’s performance was not only excellent but a ‘winner’ (bearing in mind she was probably the most demurely dressed, didn’t swivel her hips once and that some audience members were pre-pubescent). Davina McCall, the presenter, mentioned that one of the participating girls had whispered ‘awesome’ (or something similar) as Nadine sang. The panel of three ‘professionals’ comprised Westlife’s manager, Louis Walsh, the ex-producer of Kylie Mynogue and pop impresario, Pete Waterman and ex-Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell. We’re talking the Kings and Queens of pop here – Eva’s nightmare scenario. Still, it was great that
Geri (not known for her shy and retiring personality), by way of emphasizing the great performance, paid tribute to Nadine by saying that her singing reminded her (Geri) of Eva Cassidy. Eva praised by Geri! What would Eva have said? Still, it made me smile at the thought and stopped me from crying. Well done to Nadine, it was a lovely performance and a wonderful tribute to Eva on 2 November.’
First there was “American Idol,” now down under there’s “Australian Idol”! Thank you to Henrik in Denmark for spotting this item in the Shepparton News: “An Australian woman was selected from 8000 would-be pop stars to be on Channel 10’s ‘Australian Idol.’ At the audition she sang Eva’s ‘Fever.’ ‘Natalie sang Eva Cassidy’s “Fever” during the audition and was amazed by the judges’ reaction and comments. “Eva Cassidy has been my main influence, so it was good to sing her remake…. The judges’ feedback was all very positive, the main thing about me is that I don’t move around and dance a lot, but all the things they said about my singing were great.”‘” (from mid-2003)
In Tipperary, the local version of “Stars in Your Eyes” finals will include a singer appearing as Eva Cassidy. One of the organizers, Martin Quinn, tells me, “We launched a countywide search for those that could perfom like their musical idol and we ran a number of heats throughout the County with winners and wild card slections being chosen at each location. The end result is that we have 10 finalists competing in the Tipperary Final of Stars In Your Eyes, to take place on Sunday September 21st, 2003, in the Excel Theatre, Tipperary, Ireland. I would like to let you know that one of our finalists, Deirdre Hickey will become Eva Cassidy on the night of the Contest, singing “Fields of Gold”… The event promises to be a great occasion with new Irish Boy Band “Mankind” performing as guest artists on the night. Plans are also in place to broadcast the Contest on the internet.” Good luck, Deirdre! **UPDATE: I never did hear how this one turned out.
March 2004: Phoenix Productions has produced a dramatized musical play about Eva Cassidy entitled “‘Over The Rainbow,’ Songs in the life of Eva Cassidy.” Some details are available at: http://www.theatre-productions.com/rainbow.html .‘ The promotional materials state: “‘Over the Rainbow’ will feature world-class musicians and stars from London’s West End who will sing and perform Eva’s songs. Included in the line up are Loreto Murray (who was born in Dublin) as Eva, Olivier award winner Gus Mc Gregor, Dean Elliot, Jay Jackson, Christine Holman, Leon Craig and Chris Grahamson. ‘Over The Rainbow’ is written by Brian Langtry and produced and directed by Stephen Leatherland.” The poster is very pretty except that Eva liked to hike in the Appalachian mountains, not the Rockies…. oh well.
Gerard in Ireland attended one of the early performances of the play “Over the Rainbow – Songs in the Life of Eva Cassidy” and has sent me a report to share with all of you. Here are his comments:
“I thoroughly enjoyed the show last night. I was not sure what to expect, and went with a completely open mind. The show ran from 8.05 to 10.45 with a 15 minute break at 9.15. There was plenty of music and it was a good show. I have booked to see it again at another venue next week.
There was no programme but the casting was excellent. Loreto Murray is small, blonde and very pretty, and in her large check shirt I felt I could have been looking at Eva. Overall, I thought Loreto looked very like Eva, and sounded very like her too. She has a nice voice, strong but without the range of Eva, and was in trouble on a couple of songs. I felt perhaps she came across as being slightly too extrovert. At one point, after Chris said something to Eva , she said ‘Whatever,’ which to me seemed a very poor choice of expression and gave completely the wrong impression. It is a silly modern expression which conveyed other than Eva’s shyness – it just was not Eva. Her shyness did not come across.
Gus MacGregor as Chris was very good. He was tall and slim, with beard and moustache, and a red bandana on his hair. While Loreto could play guitar, it was Gus who played the solo in ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’, and seemed to be a more expert player. Hugh and Barbara were also well cast, but I felt Chuck Brown was completely over the top. Way too loud, [and] it clearly was a white man made up.
It was certainly not a historic reconstruction and used artistic license quite liberally. Some of the scenes were pure fiction… My impression was, that if someone wanted to learn about the life of Eva, this was not the place to start. It is more like a vehicle used by a musical company to produce Eva’s songs. I will be interested to see next week how the story hangs together.
I would love to know what you thought of it, having read the script. I imagine it must have come across as very unreal, with only a cursory acknowledgement of the facts. As I was watching it, it occurred to me this could look terrible on a script. I also felt that perhaps film, rather than theatre, would be a better medium for the story. “
**UPDATE: OK, I promised I’d say what I think about this play. I have not seen it, but I have read the script, and I’m not really comfortable about it. On the one hand, I am inclined to be in favor of anything that promotes Eva’s music, because I truly believe that listening to Eva sing can make the world a better place. I love people to tell Eva’s story, and even to sing her brilliant arrangements. But when it comes to having somebody actually playing the role of Eva Cassidy, of pretending to be her… maybe it’s irrational, but I find this upsetting. There is a special, indefinable magic in Eva’s actual voice, and I don’t like the idea of anybody singing for Eva, as if she is Eva. (In live theatre, it is unavoidable that anybody playing the role of Eva Cassidy would be doing her own singing, but I am particularly worried that there could someday be a film about Eva in which Eva’s actual voice is not used.)
Regarding this particular production, I am somewhat reassured by Gerard’s favorable report, but I have concerns about the script. I am personally well-acquainted with all the people represented in the play, and their dialogue and dialect in the script did not strike me as authentic. Reading the script, the people I know did not come to life for me. Naturally the written word cannot convey the complexities of characterization which a talented actor can bring onto the stage. So I do not wish to judge this production too harshly, sight unseen, and would love to hear more reports about the play from people who have attended. I would also be interested to read any media reviews that people might come across and send me (see the “Contact the Webmaster” link in the navigation box).
UPDATE: Here is a link to a review of the play in the Munster Express and another link to a .
“Anything by Eva Cassidy” is on the list of suggested audition music for Teen Idol contestants. I’m torn between being delighted that Eva is considered so mainstream in the UK, and wanting to smack somebody and shriek, “Eva didn’t write the songs!” If you live in the Coventry or Warwickshire area and are interested in becoming a Teen Idol, here’s the website. **UPDATE: Glynne comments, ‘I think they are referring to any songs (anything) she sang. The “by” means sung by to them, as opposed to written by. They may NOT know Eva didn’t write them but they appreciate that she “re wrote them” …or they just know that anything Eva sung will go down a storm!!’ (April 2004)
Spring 2004: American singer Piper Leigh’s tribute concert, “The Soul of Eva Cassidy,” was apparently a big success. Linda Talbott, who has a website “dedicated to the Prevention and Care of Melanoma” at http://www.sunblitz.com, traveled three hours to attend and writes, “What an absolutely fabulous experience it was! The venue was Cabaret Old Town, in a beautifully restored area of downtown, Wichita, Kansas. Piper is exceptionally talented and the audience reception was awesome! Her style of singing as well as her physical appearance is much like Eva’s. During her performance one could feel the spirit of Eva surrounding us. Piper spoke to the crowd of some of the similarities in their lives and careers. It was more than a touching moment. Her program of 17 songs included At Last, Autumn Leaves, Wade in the Water, and Fields of Gold. Piper effectively brought the house down with Somewhere Over The Rainbow, and it is safe to say there was not a dry eye in the house!” Piper tells me, “A Wichita dermatologist, Dr. Chris Moeller, contributed $2,000 to sponsor the show – which allowed me to donate 50% of all the ticket sales to The Skin Cancer Foundation!”
June 25, 2004: A “Tribute to Eva Cassidy” concert was held on June 16, 2004, as part of the “Washington Area Music Timeline” series of free outdoor concerts at Strathmore Hall in Montgomery County, Maryland. Featured performers were Grace Griffith, Pam Bricker, and Meg Murray. Two members of the Eva Cassidy Band, guitarist Keith Grimes and drummer Raice McLeod. The concert was co-sponsored by the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA), a wonderful organization which recognized Eva’s unique talent long before the rest of the world discovered her voice. I was not able to attend the concert but I have heard that it went well, and Joe wrote enthusiastically in the Guestbook, “The ladies performed various songs from Eva’s repertoire. Nightbird, Songbird, Wonderful World, Let The Good Times Roll, True Colors, to name a few. Each of the ladies were truly great in thir own right but it was clear, everyone’s hats were off to Eva.”
Rachel e-mailed me with more details:
“The weather was a downside, that’s true, but after a break for potential storm, the group came back on and continued. I will try to remember the songs (didn’t think to write it down!).
The performances started out with Meg Murray and an acoustic guitar player accompanying her (I didn’t get his name). They were very good. Meg said that they used to play with Eva in Annapolis and that she considered Eva a mentor. The guitar player commented on Eva’s guitar playing abilities and said that this was one of Eva’s great strengths that doesn’t get talked about enough. They did an excellent version of ‘Nightbird.’ They did a couple of other songs that I did not recognize as being on any of Eva’s CDs but they said they used to play them with her. Some other songs I remember (if I recall correctly): Pam Bricker sang: ‘I Know You by Heart,’ ‘People Get Ready,’ ‘Fine and Mellow.’ Grace Griffith sang: ‘True Colors,’ ‘Wonderful World.’ [Other songs performed that night were] ‘Say Goodbye’ and ‘Songbird’ (I can’t remember who sang those). The crowd was pretty good and the lawn area was full. Keith did the majority of the talking. I wish I had thought to write to you directly after the show… my memory is bad these days! I would have liked to hear more specific memories and anecdotes related to Eva (after all, I am Eva-obsessed!), but there was definitely some reflecting.”
MORE ABOUT THE WAMA TRIBUTE CONCERT: Ross writes, ‘Here are some more memories of the tribute concert for Eva at Strathmore Hall. It was good to see the devotion of Eva’s fans in person. I know Eva would have loved the setting, with the rolling green hills and the children running and playing in the sunset, something like in “Fields of Gold”. Meg Murray and her guitarist made a strong start with “Summertime”, one of Eva’s songs that hasn’t been on an album yet. Grace Griffith sang a beautiful version of “Songbird” – it was one of highlights of the show. Pam Bricker provided a fine performance of “Golden Thread” in spite of the light rain that started to come down. It was great that Keith Grimes could be there on guitar and that Raice McLeod came all the way from New Zealand to play the drums. Even the rain in the middle of the concert could not dampen people’s spirits. As Grace pointed out, if you hold out long enough, the pink sky will come through!’
STILL MORE INFORMATION: Jessica tells me that “The guitarist accompanying Meg Murray was Jeff
Muller.” I thought this might be the case. Does Jeff’s name sound familiar? He was another friend of Eva’s, and you’ll see his name on the credits for LIVE AT BLUES ALLEY as the graphic designer. Eva’s backup vocals are heard on Jeff’s album JES GREW. Jeff and Meg were among the performers at the Bayou tribute in 1996….
May 17, 2004: Another UK tribute concert: Today’s Evening Times has an article about Sheila Gott’s concert in tribute to Eva Cassidy. ‘”I certainly didn’t want to become a covers singer doing copycat shows. I wanted my own voice, to sing and affect people in the way that Aretha, or Lulu could. But after I heard Cassidy’s album Songbird I fell in love with her music and performance and decided to record a few of her songs.”
A management company boss told Gott to take Cassidy’s songs on the road which she did, to standing ovations across the country. But while singing songs such as Over The Rainbow, Sheila had to deal with her potentially fatal illness…. She said: “Listening to Cassidy’s music kept me going. Music has the power to lift when you are at your lowest.”‘ The headline reads “How Eva Cassidy helped me beat killer disease” and the writer (Brian Beacom) seems to believe that Eva died from breast cancer instead of melanoma, but that mistake has been made before! Have any of you heard Sheila Gott’s program? I’d be interested to hear more about it. It will be presented in Glasgow on Sunday, June 6th.
Jean in England wrote to give me more details about Sheila Gott’s concerts: “I went to see Sheila at one of her shows, and can say that it was a very moving and wonderful tribute to Eva’s talent. Sheila is NOT a tribute singer, but a very talented studio singer and vocal coach , and she embarked on this project as a result of her great admiration for Eva, but also her desire to raise money for cancer research. She is hoping to be able to carry on although this present tour has ended, and is not sure if any more gigs will be possible. Sheila’s band on the tour were excellent, chosen from a select group of session musicians, and it was obvious they were enjoying themselves, as did the audience.”
More news from Houston, Texas: Melanie and Bob both wrote me about a contestant performing Eva’s arrangement of “Over the Rainbow” in a televised talent competition called ‘Gimme Me The Mike.’ Melanie says “It’s a show based on American Idol, except they allow people of all ages. The young lady that sang Eva’s version of OTR, won the competition here in Houston. She will be awarded a small recording contract, sing for opening day for the Astros baseball game and she will be singing on The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon. She attributed her win to Eva’s ‘OTR.’ I hope this starts an Eva frenzie here in Houston!” Bob reports, “One of the judges said this: ‘We had Barbra Streisand, then Eva Cassidy, and now Lisa Whitley. Lisa has a very good voice but I think that Eva was the real winner.” Thanks to both of you for this lovely tidbit! I am always pleased when performers are able to make a big success with Eva’s arrangements and are gracious enough to acknowledge the source.
UPDATE TO THE ABOVE: Texan singer Lisa Whitley performed the “Eva version” of “Over the Rainbow” on the Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy on September 6th, 2004. This opportunity was one of her prizes as a winner of in the 2004 ‘Gimme the Mike’ contest on a Houston TV Station. Did anyone see her performance? **UPDATE: Bob writes, “Lisa did a great job singing OTR on the telethon. It was 3:30 AM in L.A. when she sang. It was 5:30 in Texas when I watched while I taped her performance. Of course it was not the same as if Eva had been doing it. The producers had reduced the length from Eva’s 5 minutes to 3.5 minutes. Lisa handled this change without a problem. I felt that the background guitar was a little too strong.” I have the feeling that we’ll be hearing singers performing Eva’s “Over the Rainbow” in competitions for many years to come!
July 25, 2003: Golda in the US tells me, ‘I was at a Mary Chapin Carpenter concert last night at Westbury Music Fair (Long Island, NY) and she sang one of her new songs. It’s called “My Heaven” and one of the lines mentions Eva singing “Fields of Gold.” I can’t remember the exact words, but the song is about what “my” heaven is like, and what she’s saying is that Eva would be singing Fields of Gold in her heaven. (In my heaven too, by the way!)’ Thanks for telling us about this, Golda! Does anybody know more about this? **YES, see below.
Updated August 10, 2003: Here’s more information about the Mary Chapin Carpenter song that Golda told us about a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a quote from an article on CMT.com: ‘ “My Heaven” reveals her version of the great unknown — which sounds like a remarkable place, abundant with music, art, lighted fountains, grandparents and the late Eva Cassidy singing “Fields of Gold.” If you weren’t a believer already, she’ll make you reconsider. “River” relies on the familiar crisp and rolling melodies that have come to be expected from her. ‘ MCC is a very classy lady. She has said nice things about Eva in public several times. Also, I have my own fond memory of her…. When I worked for the National Symphony Orchestra, we once had her as a guest artist for the huge televised concert on the U.S. Capitol grounds. Usually the “stars” treat the orchestra as an unimportant backdrop, and it always annoyed me considerably. I remember MCC ignoring the TelePrompTer, flinging her arms wide and announcing to the crowd, “The National Symphony Orchestra!” I was very impressed at her gracious acknowledgement, which was the ONLY time in nine years that I ever saw a guest artist do such a thing. **UPDATE: Cathy just e-mailed me to say, ‘I saw Mary Chapin Carpenter at Wolf Trap on Wednesday with Mike Dove. She sang a number of new songs, beginning with “My Heaven.” When she sang the line, “…Eva singing Fields of Gold”, a group of people in the audience clapped their hands. I think it’s a wonderful testament to the fact that there’s an increasing number of Eva fans in this area!’
MORE ABOUT ‘MY HEAVEN’: October 28, 2003: Mary Chapin Carpenter is still performing her song “My Heaven,” most recently in Baltimore at a performance with Dar Williams, Patty Griffin, and Shawn Colvin. This is the song which mentions Eva: “Eva’s singing ‘Fields of Gold.'” Niki Lee was there last night and reports, “people were crying and clapping at just the mention of her name…it was amazing…i couldn’t get over thinking how blown away/embarrassed eva would be to know”. One review of a MCC concert called the song “already a classic,” so let’s all cross our fingers that it will be on the next album from this artist (a native of the Washington DC area, just like Eva) and that the album notes explain the meaning of the lyric! **UPDATE: It will be on her forthcoming album (spring 2004) but I don’t know about the album notes yet.
According to the Mary Chapin Carpenter website, “BETWEEN HERE AND GONE, Mary Chapin Carpenter’s 10th album, will arrive in stores on April 27, 2004.” Also, it reports that the singer will be on the Today Show (NBC) on April 21st and the David Letterman show (CBS) on April 27th, to promote the album. What’s the Eva Cassidy connection? In one of the new songs Carpenter wrote for the album, “My Heaven,” there is a reference to Eva Cassidy: “More memories than my heart can hold, when Eva’s singing ‘Fields of Gold.'” Wouldn’t it be great if she would sing that song on television? Cross your fingers.
THIS IS A GOOD ONE: Greg in the US writes, “The new issue of Performing Songwriter contains the following exchange
in a brief interview with Mary Chapin Carpenter.
‘PS: In the lyrics (of “My Heaven”), you specifically mention Eva Cassidy singing “Fields of Gold.” How hard was it to narrow down that musical choice?
MCC: Do you remember the first time you heard that song? Do you remember how you felt? I’ll never forget the first time I heard her singing, and it was that song. And it struck me dumb with the beauty of it. I thought it was a beautiful song by Sting, but when I heard her sing it, I wept. Her voice broke my heart open. The fact that Eva is not here anymore just breaks my heart even more. So she is in my heaven singing. She had to be there.
The other thing about that song that was important to me was that the lyrics say “you’ll remember me.” Everything about it was the right song. It’s about leaving something behind. But I think what makes death bearable is to feel that you’ll be remembered. ‘”
Summer 2004: Cathy in Virginia tells me that when she attended a recent Mary Chapin Carpenter concert at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia, the singer performed her song “My Heaven” and ‘As soon as that line hit [“Eva’s singing ‘Fields of Gold'”], everybody who knew Eva clapped and cheered!’
MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER CONTINUES TO PROMOTE EVA’S MUSIC: Scott in Georgia recently posted on the Yahoo Group, ‘The Thanksgiving Day (2004) edition of “All Things Considered” on NPR (USA) included an interview NPR’s Michele Norris conducted with singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, who… discussed Between Here and Gone, Chapin’s latest recording. MCC sang three songs, the last of which was My Heaven – which mentions Eva. Here is the exchange between the program host and MCC after the song’s acoustic rendition:
Host: “And when you sing of Eva singing Fields of Gold…”
MCC: “That’s Eva Cassidy”
Host: “Of course”
MCC: “When I first heard her voice and I first heard her sing
that song in particular about memories, and love and constancy, I had to pull my car over. It was extraordinary and I can’t imagine heaven without her.”‘
One of the songs on Chris deBurgh’s forthcoming album, THE ROAD TO FREEDOM, is billed as “a moving tribute to the late Eva Cassidy,” according to this article on the CDeb.com website. This is a new song written about Eva, not another rendition of Christine McVie’s song. (SEE UPDATES BELOW)
March 8, 2004: Joanne in the UK writes, “I saw Chris De Burgh today on the Terry Wogan show Uk Channel 5 (quite a big audience). Terry asked him about his tribute song to Eva, he said some lovely things about Eva’s voice and that the first time he heard ‘Rainbow’ he had to pull over the car as he had tears in his eyes. He then sung a small section of the song, sounded quite nice….let’s hope this helps to spread the word about Eva even more.” Thanks, Joanne, and thanks also to Terry Wogan and Chris DeBurgh! As noted elsewhere on this page, Chris DeBurgh (of “Lady in Red” fame) has written a song about Eva called “Songbird” which is on his most recent album. **UPDATE: More about Chris DeBurgh — Mike or Deb write, “He had mentioned on his fan chat ‘Man On The Line’ that he had heard this beautiful singer on the radio and was sad to hear that she had passed away. I guess she had touched his heart as much as it had touched ours.” ***ANOTHER UPDATE: Joe wrote in the Guestbook on March 10th, “Chris de Burgh and that grand old Togmaster himself Mr Wogan chatting with great affection about Eva on Radio 2 this morning – Quote from Terry ‘Eva has a special place in our hearts’ – Guess that sums it up for a lot of Eva followers. Chris sang ‘Songbird’ after his chat with Terry. For those who want to listen skip to approx 1hr 35 minutes into the show.”
CHRIS DE BURGH SPEAKS ABOUT EVA: From singer/superstar Chris deBurgh’s website, in the question-and-answer section, Sharon Foster from Australia asked, ‘I see on your new album that you have a song called “Songbird” about Eva Cassidy (who is absolutely amazing). Can you tell me how you discovered Eva, and what inspired you to pen a song about her??’
In response, Chris deBurgh replied, ‘The first time I heard Eva Cassidy, I was driving in my car and I heard her singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and I was absolutely amazed. Immediately I thought to myself: “Gosh, I’d love to do a duet with this girl! She has one of the most extraordinary voices that I have ever heard.” Subsequently I heard her version of “Fields Of Gold” which I thought was gorgeous. Unfortunately a bit little later on I discovered that she had died of cancer at an early age and that she was virtually unknown in the world. A few places in the North Eastern part of America. But what happened for her in England was that a friend of mine, the broadcaster Terry Wogan, started playing it on his very important radio show in the morning. And instantly people all over England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales reacted to this beautiful voice and the irony that she was only being discovered when she was dead. And even more incredible is that she sang those two songs live. What a seriously huge talent she was! And I remember I was sitting at my piano one day, waiting for some friends to come to my house, and her name came banging into my head. And I went “oh, I’ve got to write a song about her”, which is why Songbird came up. That came up really fast. I had no idea she had an album called Songbird! And it was my dedication to her to thank her for her incredible talent.’
Talented Norwegian singer Vigdis Wisur is continuing to perform Eva’s arrangements. Her manager, Egil Kopperud, writes ‘We are currently in the process of producing “A Tribute to Eva Cassidy” – a very special concert/theatre version of Eva, her life and music. We will be on the road with starting Aug 26, 2004 until mid-November. We have already signed 15 concerts and several more are in the pipeline. If you click in to my website www.kulturproduksjon.com and then click on Vigdis Wisur you will find a live recording of “Fields of Gold” sung by Vigdis at an earlier performance.’ The singer’s own website is http://www.vigdiswisur.com.
September 2004: Susan McPeters in Davenport, Iowa, writes: ‘My performing duo ‘The Capri Sisters’ continues to add Eva Cassidy arrangements to our repertoire. We usually do “Over the Rainbow” to close out a performance and audience members are quite taken with it. People in our area don’t seem to be that familiar with her work, so we’re trying to get the word out. We’re up to ten of her arrangements now, and I would really like to see “The Letter” and “Take Me To The River” become available. We recently performed “Stormy Monday”, “God Bless the Child,”Drowning In The Sea Of Love”, “Stormy Monday” and “Hallelujah I Love Him So” for the first time and they went over great. We hired a drummer for the event as it was at a large outdoor venue as opposed to the smaller spaces we usually perform in and it really added to the mix. We’ll be keeping these songs in our rotation and adding more as we learn them. In fact, we’ll be performing the 10 songs we know during a mini “Eva Cassidy Tribute” as part of a two hour performance coming up in September at Borders, where I will also encourage everyone to go and look over her CD’s.’ FOLLOW-UP: ‘Our Eva Cassidy “tribute” went over very well. In fact, we’ll be doing “An Evening of the Music of Eva Cassidy” at a local performing arts center in the Spring. I don’t don a blond wig and try to sound just like her or anything like that… it’s just that my musical partner and I really like the arrangements, which, along with the key they are written in, work really well for me vocally. We’ll be performing a few of them at an annual benefit performance this weekend for a music scholarship that was established in memory of a very talented high school student who died in a car crash several years ago. It seems a fitting occasion for songs by Eva Cassidy.’
AUGUST 2004: What a wonderful performance at the grand opening of the long-awaited Bowie Center for the Performing Arts! Last Saturday night’s gala concert featured many accomplished performers with Bowie High School connections, including jazz pianist Greg Karukas, a fabulous pop-country quintet called Shiloh, and host Kathie Lee Gifford. Of particular interest, of course, was the special tribute to Eva Cassidy. Board member Mary Nusser introduced the segment with the announcement that the star dressing room at the new arts center will be named in Eva’s honor. Then over the sound system came Eva’s performance of “Over the Rainbow,” accompanied by a marvelous photo/video montage, including many photos of Eva which have been seen in the
Songbird biography or on this website, artfully interspersed with excerpts from the Blues Alley videotape. Next, Chuck Brown was introduced. In Eva’s honor, he performed “Drown in My Own Tears” as a duet with Eva’s taped voice, using the recording from THE OTHER SIDE (minus his own vocals). During his performance, more images of Eva were shown. It was a stunning tribute and all of us from Eva’s family was very touched. Well done, Chuck, and BRAVA to the visionaries in Bowie who brought the arts center to completion. **UPDATE: The local Gazette newspapers published this article which mentions the Eva tribute: “The night also featured a tribute to singer and Bowie High graduate Eva Cassidy who died in Bowie in 1996 of melanoma but became a posthumous smash hit in England. Chuck Brown, father of the Washington, D.C. Go-Go scene and a friend of Cassidy’s, sang a duet with a recording of the late singer Saturday night.”
EVA SONG ON “MEDICINE WHEEL” CD: A recently-released independent CD from the midwest rock group “Medicine Wheel” includes a song about Eva Cassidy. It was written by Johnny Vermilye, Paul Bolger, and Dickie Laiche. You can read the lyrics and hear a sound clip here. Here’s a sampling: “…and what do you do when your rainbow shines/ without you? without you?/ your dreams came true without you there….” Johnny Vermilye sent me a copy of the album so I could hear the Eva song in its entirety. I know that Eva would feel extremely honored that somebody was so inspired by her music that he wrote a song about her. Also, the band is excellent. If any of you get the chance to hear this talented rock band perform, I know you will enjoy it. Johnny tells me, “The EVA portion of the show will be very special for us to perform. We feel very honored to spread the awareness of such a gifted voice.” (Fall 2004)
EVA TRIBUTE IN NEW YORK CITY: “Several stars of the musical theatre will pay tribute to the late Eva Cassidy in an evening that will benefit the Johns Hopkins Melanoma Cancer Research Center,” according to an article in Playbill Magazine. The show will be on January 31, 2005, at 8 PM. The article has more details which will certainly be of interest to any Eva fans within easy reach of Manhattan! (Added January 5, 2005)
EVA TRIBUTE IN NEW YORK CITY: Coming January 31, 2005 — I hope that many of you who live in the New York City area will be attending and plan to send me a full report! The website BroadwayWorld.com has an article about this star-studded event. “Songbird: A Tribute to Eva Cassidy” will be held at “Prohibition,” 503 Columbus Avenue, at 8 PM on the 31st. Proceeds from the fundraising concert will be donated to the melanoma fund at Johns Hopkins University, the charity which is supported by this website. It really sounds marvelous, so tell all your friends! If you attend, I would love to receive a report about it, which I will share with the other fans on this page.
EVA CASSIDY MUSICAL TOURING AGAIN: The musical “Over the Rainbow” has announced its tour dates for April, May and June of 2005. For more information visit the Theatre Productions website here. This is a musical play about Eva’s life, and I have heard good reports of it from audiences members who saw it last year. Apparently the script has been changed somewhat.
AUSTRALIAN TRIBUTE CONCERT: I hope someone in Melbourne reads this and can attend singer Hayley Clare’s “A Tribute to Eva Cassidy” concert on January 22nd, 2005. If so, please tell me more about it! Hayley’s web site is here.
**UPDATE: A further article about Hayley Clare appeared in “The Age.” Here is an extract:
Word-of-mouth has promoted Cassidy’s fame, but until two years ago, Clare hadn’t heard of her. Then a 22-year-old Monash University music graduate, she was singing and playing piano at Finnigan’s restaurant in Geelong, favouring Joni Mitchell and Jewel songs. But patrons kept saying her voice sounded like Cassidy’s.
“I was conjuring up tragic images of David Cassidy’s half-sister,” says Clare. “Eventually, because that was my audience, I went and learned the songs they were asking for . . . like Songbird – which came out on the Love Actually movie soundtrack – and Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Danny Boy and Autumn Leaves. And then I found I was buying her CDs left right and centre and thought, ‘I should put this into a show’.
“It was a very organic process, just learning her songs, finding out more about her, and then I started jamming with some friends, and thinking, ‘Yeah, these songs are beautiful’. She had such an impact on me – unlike any artist has since Joni Mitchell, really. It’s the way that she’s able to strip music back to the pure essence of what matters – just a good voice, a good melody and a strong accompaniment. Her voice has so much soul to it. She can sound so pure, and yet so raw. It has so much scope.”
At the first tribute show, at Capers last October, Clare’s quintet sold out.
“A few people said, ‘Oh, it was like the music just spoke to me’. Everyone was like, ‘When are you doing itagain?'”….
Clare plays guitar on a Cassidy arrangement of the traditional Irish ballad Dark Eyed Molly that she calls “my favourite song in the show”, and plays piano on Somewhere Over the Rainbow and her own Home to Me.
She is at pains to point out she is not an Eva Cassidy impersonator: “I’m simply a storyteller,” she says. “Eva’s image is so important to so many people that it’s important to stay true to her style, making sure that I keep the arrangements the same as her arrangements, keep my voice as close to her interpretation as possible. But there’s no need to pretend to be her.”
ANOTHER AUSTRALIAN TRIBUTE CONCERT: Singer Kate Fuller from Barossa Valley will be performing a “cabaret show, Eva, a tribute to American jazz and blues singer Eva Cassidy, at Faith’s Music Warehouse on April 15,” according to the Barossa and Light Herald. I believe the venue is somewhere in the Adelaide area. As explained in the Herald, Fuller recently won a music scholarship competition. You can read a review of her cabaret show about Eva here (you’ll have to scroll down and look for it) and another one here. (Added March 31, 2005)
THEATRICAL TOUR: Brian Langtry and Stephen Leatherland’s musical production of “Over The Rainbow, the Life Story of Eva Cassidy,” is touring again. Producer Stephen Leatherland writes, “We have just started another tour of Over the Rainbow and we are trying to spread the word of Eva through Europe now. We are performing in Holland the first week of December, and we are at De Tamboer, Hoogeveen.”
For more information, visit the Theatre Productions website. The tour schedule is listed here.
COMMENT FROM THE WEBMASTER: There has been a bit of discussion in the Guestbook about whether singers who use Eva’s vocal arrangements should be expected always to acknowledge the Eva Cassidy connection. Today someone pointed out that on LIVE AT BLUES ALLEY, Eva herself did not mention the songwriters or previously-associated singers when she announced the songs. Here are my thoughts: First, legally, in copyright law (at least in the United States), the arrangement of a previously copyrighted song is NOT copyrightable. So Eva’s unique version of “Over the Rainbow” is not copyrightable to Eva, but her arrangement of a public domain song such as “Wayfaring Stranger” is. Second, the foregoing notwithstanding, if somebody is doing a note-by-note exact copy of one of Eva’s interpretations, as has happened with “Over the Rainbow,” I believe it is immoral not to acknowledge it. Third, I feel it is unreasonable to expect every singer using Eva’s arrangements to mention Eva every time. Any singer standing out there under the lights is not always going to be able to remember every possible credit that could be uttered, most especially young and inexperienced performers. Fourth, the Guestbook poster is correct that Eva cannot be heard announcing song credits on LIVE AT BLUES ALLEY. However, I want to assure you that she very often would introduce a song with a comment such as “This is one Cyndi Lauper did,” or “Here’s another Etta James number,” or “One of my favorite Aretha Franklin songs….” Eva didn’t ever say a whole lot on stage, though! She once said “I don’t like talking. I’d rather sing.”
EVA IN NORWAY: “Eva ìs not forgotten in Norway,” writes Jørn. “I read something about Vigdis Wisur, who made a tribute to Eva a couple of years ago. She is now working in a show with two of Norway`s most popular comedians. I read a review of the show, and I quote an excerpt from this: ‘And then Vigdis Wisur enters the stage, and shows her talent of parodies. She gives us everything from Lene Marlin’ (a Norwegian popstar) ‘to Tina Turner, and when she finish with Eva Cassidy –version of “Over the Rainbow” it turns up “goose-bumps of pleasure” on my arms,’ tells Andreas Diesen (writer). [Also,] I saw a music competition program called ‘Beat for Beat’ last Friday. One of the Idol finalists, Eva Weel Skram, was participating, and she sang Eva`s version of ‘Autumn Leaves,’ saying that it was her favourite song.” Thanks, Jørn! (Added October 18, 2005)
EVA’S “OVER THE RAINBOW” INTERPRETATION ON “AMERICAN IDOL” — AGAIN: 2006 “American Idol” finalist Katherine McPhee performed “Over the Rainbow” on the Fox Network in May. Apparently the song was selected for her by judge Simon Cowell. I was able to listen to it through a fan site for Ms. McPhee in the Philippines; “her” version was a hybrid which included some unmistakeable sections from Eva’s arrangement of the song, in its second half. Longtime fans of the show will recall that Tamyra Grey previously performed Eva’s arrangement note-for-note during her return visit in the second season. Eva wouldn’t approve of my saying mean things about other singers, so I’ll just say that these singers are not Eva. Thank you to Mike from Syracuse for first alerting me about the Eva-esque sections in Katherine McPhee’s performance!
MORE: “Blue Turtle” wondered in the Guestbook if Eva’s arrangement is subject to copyright; the answer is NO. Eva’s arrangements of non-copyrighted songs such as “Wayfaring Stranger” are copyrighted to Eva, but it is not possible to copyright an arrangement of an already-copyrighted work such as Arlen and Harburg’s “Over the Rainbow.” It is not required that any performer acknowledge the songwriters or the original interpretive source. Personally I feel that it would be immoral for a singer not to acknowledge the debt owed to Eva Cassidy, at least at some point, though it is not practical to expect it to happen within the “American Idol” format. If the song appears on an album, perhaps that would be an appropriate time, since the songwriters will definitely be listed on the album. Eva’s “Over the Rainbow” is so different from the original that it would be impossible for a performer to sing it like Eva by coincidence. (I think I detected quite a lot of Jane Monheit’s recording of “Over the Rainbow” as well!) I am happy to see there has been a certain amount of comment in the “Blogosphere” about McPhee’s borrowings from Eva and Jane Monheit. I’d say, the first half was from Jane Monheit, the second half from Eva Cassidy. (Added May 19, 2006)
UPDATE: Katherine McPhee later released “Over the Rainbow” as a single which could be downloaded from (I believe) iTunes.
EVA TRIBUTE IN EDINBURGH: Ian attended the Eva Cassidy Tribute by the Haley Clare Quintet in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2006. He writes, “I was spellbound by the quality of the performance, as it was as if the audience were watching & listening to Eva. A fitting tribute to a magnificent singer & very tastefully done – excellent!”
EVA ON BBC RADIO 2: Hilary in Oxford writes, ‘We were listening to BBC Radio 2 last Friday night, (15th September) and the show we were listening to was “Friday night is music night.” The show is on each and every Friday night. This is a live music show which travels around the country and each week the show will come from a different theatre here in the UK. In the past, Lionel Richie, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers and many other
great artists have taken part in this lovely music show. During the interval Radio 2 always do an artist tribute which lasts for about 15 minutes. The artists that are featured here are the BEST ones! Well, this week it was Eva’s turn to be the featured artist. What a lovely tribute, Laura. We heard “Fields of Gold” first, the full length version, then the presenter told us all a bit about Eva and her life. After that we heard Eva’s version of “Tennessee Waltz” and then more info on Eva. Two more songs followed, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” After yet more info on Eva and her work, we heard “Over the Rainbow” and yet again, it was the full length version and not the shortened one. This was a lovely surprise to here Eva here. “Friday night is music night” is listened to by many music fans throughout the world. If you want to hear this lovely Eva tribute for yourself, you can if you go to bbc.co.uk/radio2. Look for the “listen again” feature. The show will be there until next Friday. The Eva tribute will be 45 minutes into the show. Believe me, it is well worth taking the trouble to listen in!!!’
EVA TRIBUTE IN KITCHENER: According to THERECORD.COM, ‘Kitchener musician Loretta Fullerton, who has organized a tribute to Cassidy to mark the 10th anniversary of her passing, featuring other noted figures in the local folk scene, including Glen Soulis, Heather Katz, Randy Rollo and Kevin Ramessar. …There seems to be no end to the growth of Cassidy’s legend, and Fullerton is more than happy to be a part of it. However, she acknowledges what a challenge it is to live up to Cassidy’s talent. “We’re doing the songs based on her renditions, but obviously everyone is doing them in their own style. With the song I’m doing, Tall Trees in Georgia, I realized I had to change the key, but then I thought that Eva would be OK with that. She did everything based on finding that place within herself where she could make a song her own.” Fullerton adds that even some of the show’s participants are newcomers to Cassidy’s music, and she feels a sense of accomplishment in simply making other musicians familiar with her. “I think everyone has responded so positively to this project because they recognize right away that Eva was a pure musician who wasn’t out to become famous, and they can relate to her on that level. I’ve even had people tell me that they just heard of her through Randy Bachman playing her songs on his CBC radio show, so I’m thinking of sending him a thank-you message.” ……A Tribute to Eva Cassidy takes place Friday night at the Boathouse in Kitchener. Admission is $12 and the show begins at 8 p.m. Donations will also be accepted for the Canadian Cancer Society. For more information, call 519-745-7202.’ If any of you are able to attend, I’d love to hear how it went!
CANADIAN EVA TRIBUTE CONCERT REPORT: Garry from Nova Scotia attended the January 14 Eva Cassidy Tribute Concert at Hugh’s Room in Toronto. He writes, “Of course, it’s a long way to travel for a concert, but you know how I feel about anything Eva. Nothing is too much trouble. Hugh’s Room holds 200 people and it was probably three quarters full. Perhaps the audience was anticipating an evening of Eva covers, but rather that do note-for-note re-creations, the performers presented their own “Eva-ish” versions of her music. There was no shortage of affection or awareness of Eva’s recordings among the performers, and they all played and sang with great respect, admiration, and enthusiasm. The three singers all admitted that they could never reach the heights of excellence that Eva did, but they gave their hearts to presenting a wonderful concert. Anne Marie Massicotte did a stunning version of Over The Rainbow, including the rarely done introduction to the song. Heather Katz, the powerhouse vocalist of the three, did many uptempo numbers, but also, the sweetest renditions of Fields Of Gold and Imagine. Loretta Fullerton did her excellent, heart-felt takes of Tall Trees In Georgia, and others. Loretta organized this wonderful event, and it was obvious how much it all meant to her. Close to the end of the concert, she was talking about Eva’s connection to Chuck Brown, and became too choked up to continue. Heather, sweetheart that she is, didn’t miss a beat and carried on with what Loretta was saying until she could regain her composure. It was a very ‘Eva’ thing for Heather to do, and I don’t think many people caught it. Among the back-up musicians, Kevin Ramessar opened the concert with three gorgeous, sensitive pieces on steel-string and classical guitar. Glen Soulis played violin throughout and did a funny train whistle sound to start off People Get Ready. Andy MacPherson was on drums and Dan Patterson provided Bass. Christopher Willes’ saxophone added much drama and impact, particularly on Fever. All of the musicians played for very little pay, some of them just for gas money, because they just wanted to participate in this concert.” The photo to the left, taken by Garry, shows the performers.
Also in attendance was Stephen from Toronto, who made Garry’s acquaintance at the concert. He reports, “So rewarding to see professional musicians who are taken with Eva. Loretta commented that she thought Eva was an incredible guitar player. So is Kevin Ramessar, let me tell you. The band was lucky to have him and he makes an excellent representative for the guitar part of the band.”The concert will be repeated January 28th at Manhattan’s Jazz Club in Guelph. (Updated January 16, 2007)
TALENT SHOW NEWS: The British television star search program “The X Factor” recently concluded its season with the selection of winner Leona Lewis. In the final round of the competition, Leona apparently wowed the judges with Eva’s arrangement of “Over the Rainbow,” and she lists Eva Cassidy as one the singers who inspire her. Congratulations, Leona! (December 2006)
EVA’S ANGELS: Eva’s name keeps coming up on Google News in connection with two different forthcoming November album releases in the United Kingdom. One is Angelis, masterminded by Simon Cowell, which includes Eva’s arrangement of “Over the Rainbow” on their album. The group comprises six children, selected through a nationwide talent search of choristers aged 14 or under.
The other is the “all-female classical supergroup All Angels” whose young chorister members were also selected through a nationwide talent search. The group will be releasing their version of Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird – “popularised by Eva Cassidy” – both as a single and on an album. I cannot determine whether it is actually Eva’s arrangement of the song.