Washington Post follow-up letters

These “Letters to the Editor” were published in the Washington Post
Magazine in response to Jefferson Morley’s March 8th article:


I READ JEFFERSON MORLEY’S WRITE-UP “When Chuck Met Eva” {March 8} with
tears and wonderful memories of Eva Cassidy’s most beautiful voice. I had
the pleasure of catching many shows of the Eva Cassidy Band playing local
gigs. I even turned my friends on to her — but all along I knew that
rock-and-roll just didn’t do Eva’s voice justice; it was the Chuck and Eva
show at the Birchmere that really made Eva shine. If someone had told me
years ago that “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” would become one of the most
cherished songs among my CD collection, this rock-and-roll girl would have
laughed them out of any room.


DURING THE EARLY 1990’s I WAS recording at Chris Biondo’s Rockville studio
and was fortunate to meet Eva Cassidy. Chris asked her to add some background
vocals to a song I was then recording. I had asked him to locate a “gospel
choir” for the track, but he replied that I only needed Eva. She flawlessly,
in one take, recorded a four-part harmony for the chorus of the song. I
was immediately taken with her incredibly effortless talent, as well as
her gentle grace and youthful beauty.

I would like to expand on one point in Jefferson Morley’s article. The
September 1996 show at the Bayou was more than just a tribute to a gifted
local vocalist who was losing a battle with cancer. It was also a fund-raiser
to help pay for the mounting medical bills that her disease was producing.
Like many of the self-employed, Ms. Cassidy did not have the medical insurance
necessary to cover her chemotherapy and surgery. The Bayou show was a way
for her friends and fans to help in this regard.

Thank you for the story of her all too brief career. I hope it will help
expose a larger audience to her recorded work.


THE FIRST TIME I HEARD EVA, AT Armadillo’s in Annapolis, I was taken aback
by her power and ability to grab the attention of a normally apathetic
bar audience. I introduced myself and told her how much I enjoyed her voice.
She thanked me, and I had forgotten meeting her until a few months later
when I went to the benefit concert in Georgetown because I wanted to see
the lineup of talent. I was not aware that it was for the same woman I
had met a few months earlier. The rest of the night was truly magical,
emotional and completely exhausting. I could not compose myself during
her last trip onstage. Since then I have become a huge fan of her work.
It is disappointing to me that I couldn’t have met her sooner or come across
her work earlier in my life. But I’m glad that I at least got to see one
of the most inspirational performances of my life that night. Thank you
for reminding me of that fantastic experience.


A THOUSAND THANK-YOUS FOR YOUR excellent article on Eva Cassidy. I came
rather late to the party myself — I never saw her in concert, and only
bought her CDs after her death — but I’ve become a proselytizer on her

I do have a different opinion about her “trouble with another commitment”:
her refusal to settle on a musical identity. I don’t see this as a problem
with commitment but as a quite sensible refusal to be niched. As I recall,
that was the problem Aretha Franklin had when she was with Columbia. They
chose the material she was to record so the marketing people could figure
out how to sell her recordings. As a result, her records sold poorly. Once
she found another record company that was willing to let her choose the
songs she wanted to sing, her career took off. The problem wasn’t Eva’s
inability to commit to one particular style. It was the record companies’
inability to see beyond niches, their unimaginative approach to marketing.
All Eva was saying was, in the words of the old song, “Don’t fence me in.”