Until this week, I had never heard of Eva Cassidy.
I was sent a link to her version of “Over the Rainbow.” The man who sent it to me admitted that had never heard of her. Someone had sent him the link. It has had over two million hits in just one year.
She has been dead since 1996.
My friend had been a studio musician before he became a lawyer in the 1970’s. He had been Linda Ronstadt’s lead guitarist on tour. He was aware of the musical world. How had he never heard of her?
No record company had wanted to sign her. She was too eclectic. They could not pigeonhole her, so they skipped her.
All she needed was a studio, two microphones, and a sound technician. No one thought the investment was worth it.
No one ever signed her for a solo album.
. . . . she was virtually unknown outside her native Washington, D.C., when she died of melanoma in 1996.
Two years later, Cassidy’s music was brought to the attention of British audiences when her versions of “Fields of Gold” and “Over the Rainbow” were played by Mike Harding and Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2. Following the overwhelming response, a camcorder recording of “Over the Rainbow,” taken at Blues Alley in Washington by her friend Bryan McCulley, was shown on BBC Two’s Top of the Pops 2. Shortly afterwards, the compilation album Songbird climbed to the top of the UK Albums Charts, almost three years after its initial release. The chart success in the United Kingdom and Ireland led to increased recognition worldwide; her posthumously released recordings, including three UK number 1 records, have sold more than ten million copies. Her music has also charted top 10 positions in Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.
How did producers not recognize this talent? They were professionals. This was their business. When would would they ever find someone like this again?
We can all miss things that are great . . . and under our noses. We may recognize this after the fact. But how was this not recognized at the time?