QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS



Updated July 26, 2008

This page will contain answers to the most frequently asked questions about Eva Cassidy, as well as some others that might be of general interest.  The information is correct and may be relied upon.  Where applicable, I will include the source.  For further information, read the Fact Sheet about Eva, and consider ordering the biographical book about Eva, Songbird.  To learn more about "Eva's Favorites," visit the "Eva's Birthday Page."  At the bottom of this page, you will find a listing of "frequent errors" I have seen in print!



QuestionIs this the "official" Eva Cassidy Web Site?

Answer:  No. Eva is not here to give "official" status to ANY web sites, and therefore I consider any and all Eva Cassidy-related web sites, including this one, to be "unofficial." Incidentally, the first web site about Eva is the one created by Mike Schreibman and Maria Villafana at Crosstown Arts. The second, now defunct, was put together by Eva's friend Bryan McCulley. This was the third, and by now it is the largest! For links to selected Eva-related sites, visit the "Other Eva Cassidy Web Sites" page.



QuestionWhich songs are on which album?  

CD Answer:  Click here for the complete listing.



QuestionHow can I get the music and lyrics to the songs on Eva Cassidy's albums?

SongbookANSWER: I used to say, "The same way Eva got them, by listening over and over again!" She found most of her material on recordings from other artists, then made the songs her own.  You will be glad to know that now Eva Cassidy songbooks exist.  For more information about those, visit the "Lyrics and Songbooks page."  For lyrics, I highly recommend the "Eva Songs" web site which offers complete and correct lyrics to all the songs on all the Eva albums.



QuestionHow do you pronounce Eva's first name?

ANSWER: Eva rhymes with "diva." In other words, it's EVE-ah, not Ava. She was named for her paternal great-grandmother, Eva McGrew.



QuestionIs any of Eva's artwork available to buy?

Answer:  Yes! In 2004, Eva's sisters Anette and Margret created a web site at www.evacassidy.com to showcase Eva's artwork. Prints and posters of several Eva artworks are now available, as well as notecards and some truly essential bumperstickers.



QuestionWhere is Eva's home town, Bowie, Maryland?

ANSWER: It's a suburb of Washington, DC, a few miles east of the city. By the way, it is pronounced Bowie like the knife, to rhyme with gooey or Lewie, not Bowie like the singer David Bowie, whose name rhymes with showy or doughy or Joey. Eva was born at Washington Hospital Center in Washington DC and lived in Oxon Hill, Maryland, in her early years.



QuestionWas Eva married and did she have children?

ANSWER: No and no. She was not in a romantic relationship at the time of her final illness. The romance between Eva and her producer/bassist, Chris Biondo, had ended a few years previously, but they continued to be friends and musical collaborators.



QuestionI would like to do an astrological chart for Eva. Exactly when and where was she born?

ANSWER: Eva Marie Cassidy was born at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, on February 2, 1963, at 10 PM. (Source: her mother)



QuestionDid Eva ever perform for large audiences, or was she only ever booked to sing in small clubs?

According to Chris Biondo, the Eva Cassidy Band did play for a few large crowds. They opened for the Neville Brothers at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap Farm Park, they played at "Taste of DC" right after Little Feat (therefore the audience was large), and they played for thousands at the Columbia Arts Festival, with Chuck Brown. Eva's solo performances were for comparatively small audiences, which Eva preferred.



QuestionDid Eva ever perform in Europe?

ANSWER: Yes, she performed in Iceland. Eva's violinist brother Dan Cassidy lives in Iceland and Eva performed with him there. Her maternal grandparents lived in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, and although she visited she didn't perform there. According to Eva's mother, she brought her guitar on a holiday in Greece and played and sang there informally.



QuestionI love the sound Eva got from her acoustic guitar on tracks like "Fields of Gold." I just wondered if you knew what make or model guitar she used.

Eva on a stoolANSWER: From Keith Grimes, the lead guitarist of the Eva Cassidy Band, came this reply: "Eva's acoustic/electric steel-stringed guitar was a Guild Songbird, appropriately enough. Its thinner-than-usual body size suited the not-large Eva, so it was physically comfortable to hold all night. The solid body electric she used was a Fender Stratocaster belonging to Chris. She played the Guild straight through the P.A., while the Strat went through a Roland JC-120 amp which also belonged to Chris. On 'Over the Rainbow' she played a Gibson 'Chet Atkins' model, an electric/acoustic guitar with nylon strings. Most of the stuff she did with the the band was steel-stringed. She never used a pick, she always used her fingers for everything.  I hope people aren't going to go out and get whatever Eva had; Eva was using what she could afford. She did get a good sound out of the instruments she used."  For more information about Eva's guitars, read the interview with Mike Dove on the "Interviews" page.



QuestionWhen the final mix of "Over the Rainbow" was completed, and Eva, Chris and whoever else was involved in the decision said "yep, this is what is going on the CD," did anyone, especially Eva, have any idea what a profound effect her rendition would have on so many people? Did they sense that this was a very special recording?

ANSWER: From Chris Biondo: "No. We worked really hard on it but we didn't think it was very good, at the time. I remember the day we finished it, it was July 18, 1992. We were really tired when we finished it. It was just Eva and I, we didn't think it was very good, Chuck Brown called and we said 'Come on over, we want you to come to a party with us,' we went over to a friend of Eva's and had a jam session in the basement.... Eva had been singing that song for years, she had already recorded it once when she was in high school. I remember we were driving to Ikea Furniture one day, she pulled out a cassette and she wanted me to hear 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' And when we'd go places she would sing it in the car. A couple of times I had to pull over I was crying so hard, it was brutal. I'm immune to it by now though. People used to ask to hear that song a lot. The hard part for her wasn't singing it, it was playing the guitar part all the way through without making any mistakes. It was all her own version. There was a note she changed that was really good, the word 'far,' she changed the note, it's better than the way Judy Garland sang it."  For more information, read my article about "Over the Rainbow."



QuestionDid Eva ever meet Sting, and was he aware of Eva's interpretation of "Fields of Gold"? I am intrigued at this thought and wonder if he knew Eva's beautiful recording.

Answer: No, Eva never met Sting. You have to remember that she was very, very unknown during her lifetime. The only times she was heard outside the Washington DC area were when she was performing with her brother Dan in Iceland, and on a brief U.S. tour with "Pieces of a Dream." She didn't move in the musical circles that would introduce her to somebody like Sting.

Years after Eva's death, Sting did hear her recording of the song. In the article "Robin Young: Forever Catching Fireflies in a Bottle" by Laura Bernieri, we learn that "Robin was able to get Sting to listen to Eva’s rendition of 'Fields of Gold.' She has him on camera saying that he was quite territorial about that song, arrogant even, only to be brought to tears by her totally different vocal interpretation."  Robin Young is exploring the possibility of producing a documentary about Eva in the future.

Sting gave this statement to Richard Harrington of the Washington Post, who kindly gave me permission to reproduce it here: "A friend of Eva's sent me the recording after her death, I thought it was a beautiful rendition. I've rarely heard a voice of such purity. I was deeply sorry to learn of her death and somehow it gave the song another emotional level. I was very happy the work saw the light of day. It's an extraordinary success."

Here's another Sting quote about Eva:  "I heard this voice and it was so beautiful, so pure. And the next thing I hear, it's almost a year later, and Terry Wogan is playing it on Radio 2. Then lo and behold, it's number 1 in England and I'm happy for her. Even though it's a sad tragic story, it has kind of a poetry about it."

One more Sting quote: "Blue Skies Chris" in the UK writes, 'I found an article in a magazine with a transcription of an interview done by David Jensen, a Radio DJ on Capital Gold (an Independent London station playing "old" music). The following is an excerpt that may interest you:-
DJ: Eva Cassidy sang "Fields of Gold." As a songwriter, it must be the greatest compliment when others want to sing your songs?
Sting: I remember being sent this song by a friend of hers - it was long before the success - and she explained how her friend had died and how she would have loved me to hear the song. I was almost in tears because it's such a beautiful version. It then became this huge hit, but I was saddened that she didn't live to see her success. I was proud to be the writer of the song. It's a song about continuity and having romantic love turn into something more romantic and more mellow.'

See also my article about "Fields of Gold."



QuestionWhen was Eva's music first played on the radio?

I don't think anybody knows for sure, though one of these days I'll talk to Tom Goldfogel of Liaison Records to ask if he has any recollection. A good guess would be that some of the duets from the album THE OTHER SIDE with Chuck Brown, who was and is a very big star in Washington DC, were broadcast at the time of the CD's release. If I had to speculate where Eva's solo music first was played, I'd go with folk DJ Mary Cliff and her "Traditions" show on WETA-FM. But of course it was radio airplay in England that really made a difference in the Eva Cassidy story.  I hear that BBC radio announcers are practically bickering over who "discovered" Eva Cassidy on behalf of BBC Radio 2!  Was it Mike Harding, Terry Wogan, or Bob Harris?  I have been investigating, and the answer is... none of the above.   Paul Jones was actually the first to put Eva on BBC 2, with 'Wade in the Water' on his blues show. (Note: According to Brian in Scotland, "this is Paul Jones the singer, from the 60's band Manfred Mann.")  The following week, Mike Harding was the first to play 'Fields Of Gold.'  Very shortly thereafter, Paul Walters and Terry Wogan introduced Eva to the audience of the most-listened-to "Wake up with Wogan" program (did I get that name right?) and Bob Harris brought her voice to the discerning listeners of his eclectic Saturday night show. Thanks, gentlemen, you are all wonderful!



QuestionA young friend of mine, who had to cope with illness recently, wonders what kind of cancer Eva died of, what kind of treatment she received, and how it affected her performing.

Answer:  Eva had melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. A few years before she died she had had a malignant tumor removed from her back, but it didn't worry her (unfortunately) and nobody thought any more about it.  Around the time LIVE AT BLUES ALLEY was recorded, she was able to quit her "day job" at a landscape nursery and devote herself mostly-full-time to her music. In addition she worked with another artist to paint murals on the walls of elementary school cafeterias. When her hip started to hurt, she attributed it to spending too much time on stepladders. She began to walk with a cane and sat more than she stood when she performed. Finally she got X-rayed and it turned out that the hip was broken. The cancer had returned and spread throughout her bones. Though the prognosis looked poor, she began aggressive chemotherapy at Johns Hopkins (one of the best cancer centers in this country). I don't believe she performed again after she began the chemotherapy, except to sing "What a Wonderful World" at the tribute concert a few weeks before she died. We were glad that she was able to stay at home (her parents' house) for her entire illness.



Over the Rainbow photo QuestionWhat is the history behind the Blues Alley video clips?

Answer:  Eva's friend Bryan McCulley videotaped Eva at Blues Alley in January of 1996, during the recording of the live album. Using hand-held video equipment, he videotaped some of the performance on both nights.  He says, "It was never shot to be shown as a music video, but hey, it's all we've got. It is pretty decent footage though. I wanted to document the making of the Blues Alley CD, so that's why I went out and videoed it. It would make great documentary footage." The master tape from the recording session was synched up with the video for better sound quality.  When the "Over the Rainbow" clip was shown on "Tops of the Pops 2" for the second time, the caption stated that it was the "most requested clip in TOTP2 history"!



QuestionWhich album has the a cappella version of "Amazing Grace" which Bruce Lundvall talked about on "Nightline"?

Answer:  Oh, wasn't that a teaser! Unfortunately, "Amazing Grace" isn't on any of the albums. Eva did perform the song regularly, with guitar accompaniment.



QuestionWhat is the highest note on any of Eva's recordings?

Answer:  The answer comes from Lenny Williams, the keyboardist for the Eva Cassidy Band.  Lenny has "perfect pitch" and was therefore considered best-qualified to make this determination.  My thanks to Eileen White, who researched this one and wrote it up as follows:

'I cornered Lenny tonight in search of an answer to the Eva's Highest Note question. And the winner is... the Mother's Day Rap, "This Is For My Mother." Here are the details:
    -- "How Can I Keep From Singing": High note is A5 (A below high C).
    -- "Golden Thread": High note is also A5.
    -- "God Bless the Child": High note ("Papa") is another A5.
    -- Niki Lee Song "November": Eva is singing alto on Niki's song, but she hits some high notes also. The highest is an A5.
    -- "This Is For My Mother": High note is E6, the E above high C. Amazing. Lenny said this is in "Minnie Riperton range."

Lenny also said that the A's are full voice, while the E is falsetto.'


Note :   the high notes are at the end of the rap song and aren't on the audio clip. Sorry!



QuestionDid Eva have 'perfect pitch'?

Answer:  From Chris Biondo - "No, she didn't."  Perfect pitch, also called absolute pitch, is the rare ability to identify a musical note without reference to another note. The ability is unrelated to musicianship, but it can come in handy for singers!



QuestionWhere was Eva buried?  I would like to visit her grave.

Answer:  Eva's ashes were scattered at a favorite spot near the Chesapeake Bay, at a friend's property in St. Mary's County, Maryland.



QuestionAll the songs on Eva's albums were written by someone else.  Did Eva write songs?

Answer:  Eva was an interpreter, not a songwriter. She once told me that she had tried but her songs weren't any good.  Of course she didn't think she was a very good guitar player either, and she was great, so I wish I had heard some of those songs. See below, however, for information on a song Eva co-wrote, and details about one of Eva's poems.



QuestionWhat is the history of the song "Hear" that is a duet with Mary Ann Redmond?

Answer: From Chris Biondo: "When Eva and I first got together, we made a list of things we wanted to do together -- trips we wanted to take, things we wanted to learn, projects we wanted to do. One of these was to do a song like "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel, in the same kind of musical style, using it as a point of departure for the instrumentations and the vibe of the song, which is melancholy and anthemic. I put the music together in my basement, just with a synthesizer and drum machine, and gave the song to Eva to write the lyrics. After she recorded the vocals she was happy with the chorus but she didn't like the verses. We didn't have a good lyrical flow, and the verses weren't as strong as the chorus. So we never finished it, we just put it away as an experiment that worked only about 70%.

Album coverI thought that vocally what Eva did with the chorus was magnificent. The words she wrote express her confusion about people being evil to each other, that's what I get out of it.

The year Eva died, Mike Schreibman of the Washington Area Music Association called to ask if there was anything of Eva's they could put on that WAMA sampler album. That song was the only piece of music that didn't fit stylistically with the rest of Eva's recordings, so I didn't even consider it for EVA BY HEART, but I thought it might work on the sampler. I called the Cassidys to ask about it, and Barbara said 'Fine.' She came over to listen to it, and was very emotional when Eva's chorus came in.

I asked Mary Ann Redmond if she would write new verses for the song, both words and melody. That was a nice thing for her to do, it was an emotional time, it was a gift she was giving in Eva's honor to WAMA. Nobody got paid for it. She recorded the verses and sang harmony with Eva on the chorus. Mary Ann is a great, great performer.

I think the song is available on iTunes now."

The lyrics of the chorus are as follows:

Somewhere, somehow
At some time someone cared
Maybe just for a moment
Or maybe for a lifetime.
Are the threads that bind us together
Falling loose or growing stronger?
Look at it now
Look at the picture
Has it changed
Or is it still the same?


**UPDATE: The 2008 album SOMEWHERE will have a new version of this song. For further details see the SOMEWHERE page.



QuestionI am very interested in the "Springtime" poem which is on the TIME AFTER TIME album insert.  How can I read the entire poem and any other poetry of Eva's?

Answer:  Eva didn't actually write much poetry and didn't consider herself a poet.  The "Springtime" poem was written for a friend, and the first part of the poem contains mostly personal references, for instance to her friend's dog and cat.  The second part of the poem is the only section that will be published.  Here is the excerpt from TIME AFTER TIME:

...and isn't it a miracle that crocuses bloom?
And you can banish cat hair with a sweep of a broom?
And that daffodils and children have the same kind of smile?
And you can take off your shoes and splash in water for a while?
That you can hear angels in the cooing of a dove,
Or give a person something, simply out of love,
And that God will paint colors on the clouds for us to see
And that we can watch together, you standing next to me.




QuestionWhat did you think of the Songbird biography?

Answer:  It made me cry, but I loved it. I decided not to write a formal review on my web site because I realized that my reaction to the book is going to be very different from that of people who didn't know Eva. For me, it was like looking through a family scrapbook -- "Wasn't Uncle Hugh handsome?" and "That photo was taken at our house at Christmas" and "I'd forgotten all about Eva's boyfriend Thurston!"  For more information about the book, by the way, follow this link. The book doesn't go into much detail about Eva's recordings, which seems like an odd omission, but the many in-depth articles on this web site can fill the gap. I was unable to participate in the book project because the authors only wanted to do face-to-face interviews; I had a new baby and was only willing to do a phone interview.



QuestionWhat were Eva's religious beliefs?  

Answer:  Eva wasn't a churchgoer but I think of her as a spiritual person. Her choice of music tells a lot about her beliefs, wouldn't you agree?



QuestionI've been hearing a lot about an album called "Live at Pearl's." What is this?

Answer: "Live at Pearl's" is a tape made at Pearl's Restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland, in the fall of 1994. Eva was playing there as a solo performer. On two occasions, her friend Bryan McCulley brought his video equipment, plugged it into Eva's sound board, and recorded the performance. On the first of these nights, the video part of his equipment malfunctioned and only the audio track was recorded. Bryan later transferred this to cassette. Eva's friend Maggie Haven remembers that Eva played this tape for her and the other artists when they were painting murals on the walls of an elementary school cafeteria!

After Eva's death, copies of this cassette tape circulated among her friends and family. Later, several of these tracks were included in the albums IMAGINE and AMERICAN TUNE. Some of Eva's fans have been sharing copies of the "Pearl's" tracks (several generations of copying away from the original). These copies definitely fall in the category of "bootlegs" and I do not endorse such distribution. Personally, I would be thrilled if eventually a full LIVE AT PEARL'S album is created, so that Eva's fans can share in the vocal magic Eva created that night, legally and morally and with the best sound possible. In the meantime, I feel that people who are distributing bootleg recordings of any artist, including Eva Cassidy, are essentially stealing something that is valuable and does not belong to them. My biggest concern is that if all Eva's fans have bootleg copies of this material, it will be increasingly less likely that a PEARL'S album would ever be legally produced.



QuestionWho are you and why do you have this web site?

Answer: See the "Contact the Webmaster" page.



QuestionI hear there is an Eva Cassidy recording of "Golden Slumbers" with Jackson Browne.  Where can I find out more?

Answer:  I had to do some research to find out for sure, but Eva never recorded this song.  There is a Jackson Brown/Jennifer Warnes duet of this song, and in at least one place on the Internet, the female singer is misidentified as Eva.  It isn't.  Sorry!  Chris Biondo says that Eva always intended to record "Golden Slumbers," possibly in a medley with "Across the Universe," but they never got around to it. (Eva did, of course, record two other songs with "gold" in the title -- "Golden Thread" and "Fields of Gold."



QuestionDid Eva learn the song "Dark End of the Street" from the movie "The Commitments" (1991)?

Answer:  Chris Biondo says "Dark End of the Street" was brought in by Keith Grimes, and Eva was doing it before "The Commitments" came out.  It's on the album THE OTHER SIDE, and some editions of EVA BY HEART.



QuestionWhat are Chris Biondo's favorite Eva songs?

Answer:  I asked him. It turns out that "Waly Waly," "I Know You By Heart," "American Tune," "Anniversary Song," and "Time After Time" are Chris's top five, in no particular order, except that "Waly Waly" is #1. "Especially the second verse, the verse about the boat," he said. Chris says that over the years he has become "immune" to "Over the Rainbow."



QuestionEver since you mentioned Mary Chapin Carpenter on the "What's New Page" some while ago, I`ve become very interested in her music. Did Eva and MCC have contact or ever perform together? They would certainly have provided a formidable event together at a concert !

Answer: MCC has been a wonderful ambassador for Eva's music, hasn't she? Her song "My Heaven" mentions Eva: "More memories than my heart can hold/ Eva's singing 'Fields of Gold.' But Eva and MCC never met. There was a link between them in guitar technician Mike Dove, who was always talking about Eva Cassidy and encouraging people to come hear her, but the direct connection never happened. I am sure it would have, eventually. Eva's LIVE AT BLUES ALLEY came out at the beginning of the summer of 1996, and when it started to get a lot of attention locally, all sorts of opportunities seemed to be opening up for Eva. By the end of the summer, however, Eva was very ill.



QuestionThis question was posted in the Yahoo group. "We need an opinion from someone close the source. Would Eva with her love of ballads have approved of a ballads only album, or would she have preferred a varied, non-pigeonholed approach? What format would Eva herself have chosen if she had been given carte blanche as to how the albums were compiled?"

Answer: I asked Eva's producer, Chris Biondo. He replied, 'A lot depended on what Eva was listening to that week! A more acoustic-oriented album is where she was headed, but I think EVA BY HEART is basically how Eva would have made a record. Every song that was on there, she picked herself, they were all songs she wanted to do, and they were all different -- "Blues in the Night," "Nightbird," "Wayfaring Stranger," "How Can I Keep From Singing."'



QuestionDid Eva Cassidy record any Christmas or holiday songs?

Answer: Yes! Learn more on the Christmas Page.



QuestionWhy won't you give a list of YouTube sites that have videos of Eva Cassidy?

Answer: BECAUSE THEY ARE ILLEGAL. Please read YouTube's own copyright tips to help you understand.



QuestionIs there anywhere I can buy Eva's Gran's writings?

Rocker Picture ANSWER:  Eva's grandmother, Clara Cassidy, considered herself a "late bloomer" because she waited until she retired at age 65 to pursue her lifelong dream as a writer. She became a newspaper columnist who wrote wise and witty essays of advice on retirement and aging. Many of these columns were collected into self-published booklets which were advertised in her newspaper column; people would write to her to buy them. But some were distributed in other ways. I have seen some of her essay collections through Internet book-find services such as Bibliofind and Advanced Book Exchange. She also wrote two children's books that were published as Little Golden Books, and one of them, WE LIKE KINDERGARTEN, was reprinted for many years. At some point I would like to reproduce some of her essays on my web site. Many of them are illustrated with Eva's drawings. Some titles to look for are "Up In Years (...and off my rocker)," "Still Off My Rocker," and "Stay Off That Rocker." Others are "Living The Topmost Years," "How to Create a Braided Rug," and "I Remember, Do You?"



QuestionCould you please contact Chris Biondo and suggest that he find a way to have the version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" that was recorded the night they made LIVE AT BLUES ALLEY and is the audio track of the video shown on the ABC web site released. I find this version is much better than the version on SONGBIRD.

People Get Ready photo Answer:  Chris Biondo doesn't make the decisions about any forthcoming albums -- that's in the hands of the record company. However, I asked Chris about this. He said that Eva did record her solo guitar-accompanied version of "Over the Rainbow" in the studio. (I haven't heard this one myself.) He doesn't think Eva would want the Blues Alley rendition on an album because her voice cracks at the end.  The version of "Over the Rainbow" that is available on THE OTHER SIDE and SONGBIRD CDs is a studio recording made several years earlier than the video.  It is Eva's own arrangement. For those of you who prefer the Blues Alley solo version of "Over the Rainbow," it is available on a "CD single" of "People Get Ready" which was issued in the United Kingdom.




QuestionDid Eva ever sing any Grateful Dead songs?

Answer:  Chris Biondo says he never heard her sing any Grateful Dead songs. Someone has pointed out that the Grateful Dead have a recording of "Early Morning Rain," but I think Eva would have considered that a Gordon Lightfoot song.



QuestionDid Eva record "Moon River"?

Answer:  Again according to Chris Biondo, she didn't record it, and he never heard her sing it.



Message from the webmaster :

I've found a great deal of misinformation about Eva in various places.  Here are a few corrections I feel the need to make, for one reason or another. Journalists, take note! If you reproduce these mistakes, you haven't been doing your homework: