Summary:Songbird is a compilation album of songs by the late American singer Eva Cassidy, released in 1998, two years after her death in 1996.
Five tracks ("Wade in the Water", "Wayfaring Stranger", "Songbird", "Time is a Healer" and "I Know You by Heart") are from Cassidy's album, Eva by Heart. Four tracks ("Fields Of Gold", "Autumn Leaves", "People Get Ready" and "Oh Had I a Golden Thread") are from her album, Live at Blues Alley. The remaining track, "Over the Rainbow", is from the album The Other Side. The compilation album was certified Gold by the CRIA (50,000 units) in 2003. It was certified Gold by the RIAA in 2001 and Platinum in 2008 for shipments in excess of one million copies.
Biography: Early life
Born on February 2, 1963, at the Washington Hospital Center, Cassidy grew up in Oxon Hill and later Bowie, Maryland, suburbs of Washington, D.C.. She was the third of four children born to Hugh and Barbara Cassidy. Her father, a retired teacher, sculptor, musician, and former army medic, is of Scottish and Irish descent, while her German-born mother was a horticulturist. From an early age, Cassidy displayed interest in art and music. When she was nine, her father taught her to play the guitar and she began to play and sing at family gatherings.
At age 11, Cassidy began singing and playing guitar in a Washington area band called Easy Street. This band performed in a variety of styles at weddings, corporate parties and pubs. Due to her shyness, she struggled with performing in front of strangers. While a student at Bowie High School, she sang with a local band called Stonehenge. During the summer of 1983, Cassidy sang and played guitar six days a week at the theme park Wild World. Her younger brother Dan, a fiddler, was also a member of this working band. She enrolled in art classes at a community college but dropped out after finding them unhelpful.
Throughout the 1980s, Cassidy worked with several other bands, including the techno-pop band Characters Without Names. During this period, Cassidy also worked as a propagator at a plant nursery and as a furniture painter. In her free time, she explored other artistic expressions including painting, sculpting and jewelry design. Despite holding a belief in God, Cassidy was not part of any organized religion.
In 1986, Cassidy was asked by Stonehenge guitarist and high school friend, David Lourim, to lend her voice to his music project, Method Actor. This brought her to Black Pond Studios, where she met bassist and recording engineer Chris Biondo. Biondo helped her find work as a session singer and later introduced her to Al Dale, who would become her manager. She sang back-ups for various acts, from go-go rhythm and blues band Experience Unlimited to rapper E-40. Biondo and Cassidy, who were in a romantic relationship for a time, formed the five-piece "Eva Cassidy Band" with Lenny Williams, Keith Grimes and Raice McLeod in 1990. They began to perform frequently in the Washington area
In 1992, Biondo played a tape of Cassidy's voice for Chuck Brown, the "Godfather of go-go". It resulted in the duet album The Other Side featuring performances of classic songs such as "Fever", "God Bless the Child," and what would later become Cassidy's signature song, "Over the Rainbow". The album was released and distributed in 1992 by Liaison Records, the label that also released Brown's Go-go albums. Brown originally intended to record a single duet with Cassidy for his next solo album, but this was postponed due to ongoing negotiations between Dale and other labels for a solo deal. Cassidy's unwillingness to narrow her stylistic focus to one genre hindered her chances of securing a deal. After talks broke down, the two decided to record their own duet album. As a duo, they performed at the Columbia Arts Festival and opened for acts like Al Green and The Neville Brothers.
In 1993, Cassidy was honored by the Washington Area Music Association with a Wammie award for the Vocalist Jazz/Traditional category. The next year she was invited to perform at the event and chose to sing "Over the Rainbow". A Washington Times review of the event called her performance "a show-stopper". She took home two Wammies that night, again for Vocalist Jazz/Traditional and also for Roots Rock/Traditional R&B. For a brief period that year, Cassidy signed a deal with Blue Note Records to pair up with pop-jazz band Pieces of a Dream to release an album and tour the country. She sang two tracks in a mainly instrumental album. It was a musically unsatisfying experience for her.
After having a potential contract with Apollo Records collapse when the label went bankrupt, Biondo and Dale decided that she should release her own live album. In January 1996, the material for Live at Blues Alley was recorded over a two-day period at Blues Alley, Washington, D.C. Due to a technical glitch on the first night of recording, only the second night's recording was usable. Unhappy with the way she sounded due to a cold, she was reluctant to release the album. She eventually relented, on the condition that the studio track "Oh, Had I a Golden Thread", Cassidy's favorite song, would be included in the release, and that they start working on a follow-up studio album. Her apprehension appeared unfounded as local reviewers and the public responded positively. The Washington Post commented that "she could sing anything شاِ folk, blues, pop, jazz, R&B, gospel شاِ and make it sound like it was the only music that mattered." The subsequent studio album she worked on was released as Eva by Heart posthumously in 1997. In the liner notes of Eva by Heart, critic Joel E. Siegel described Cassidy as "one of the greatest voices of her generation.
In 1993, Cassidy had a malignant mole removed from her back. Three years later, during a promotional event for the Live at Blues Alley album in July 1996, Cassidy noticed an ache in her hips, which she attributed to stiffness from painting murals while perched atop a stepladder. The pain persisted and a few weeks later, X-rays revealed that the melanoma had spread to her lungs and bones. Her doctors estimated she had three to five months to live. Cassidy opted for aggressive treatment, but her health deteriorated rapidly. In the early fall, at a benefit concert for her at the Bayou, she made her final public appearance, closing the set with "What a Wonderful World" in front of an audience of friends, fans and family. Additional chemotherapy was unavailing, and in six weeks she had died.
Cassidy died on November 2, 1996, at her family home in Bowie. She was 33. In accordance with her wishes, her body was cremated and the ashes were scattered on the lake shores of St. Mary's River Watershed Park, a nature reserve near California, Maryland.
Album Title: Songbird
Artist | Group: Cassidy, Eva
Release date: 1998
Number of track(s): 10
File format: mp3
Total duration: 00h:42m:59s:000ms
Total size: 98.3 MB
1. Fields Of Gold
2. Wade In The Water
3. Autumn Leaves
4. Wayfaring Stranger
6. Time Is A Healer
7. I Know You By Heart
8. People Get Ready
9. Oh, Had I A Golden Thread
10. Over The Rainbow
All Tracks Are In Mp3 Format/BitRate 320
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