A deeply though unconventionally spiritual person, Eva Cassidy viewed her talent
as a gift and an obligation. Clearly, she inherited a predisposition for creative
expression from her parents. Her father, Hugh, who taught special education
at Prince George's County, Maryland, public schools, is a bassist, cellist,
and sculptor. Her mother Barbara, the couple met in Germany in 1960, comes from
a family of craftsmen and decorators. When Eva, born in 1963, began drawing
at 2 and 1/2, her sensitivity to form and color were immediately apparent. At
9, she became serious about music, singing and practicing guitar hour after
hour. Hugh taught her the rudiments of guitar technique, introduced her to folk
music, Buffy St. Marie, Josh White, Pete Seeger, and formed a family ensemble
that combined four-part vocal harmony wth his bass, Eva's guitar, and her brother
Eva was a complex person, painfully shy, vulnerable to criticism and subject
to seasonal depressions, yet opinionated and stubborn, unyielding in her personal
values and artistic principles. She loved solitude, bicycling, movies and Cheetos,
hated high school, dresses, aggressive drivers and the exploitation of women
in advertising and television. She was obsessive about her art projects, painting,
drawing, sculpting, designing jewelry, decorating furniture and clock faces.
Extremely self-conscious, she had little interest in pursuing a professional
career in art or music, preferring to surround herself with supportive friends
who served as her advocates. She had few possessions and modest goals, sometimes
she spoke of wanting to live in a cottage by the ocean, and no sense of money.
She didn't have a checking account until she was 30, and worried that material
success would threaten her identity. Battling the melanoma that took her life
at 33, she told her mother "All I want to do when I get well is sing and
travel around with my music"
She formed the Eva Cassidy Band in the spring of 1990. At first, she felt uncomfortable
on-stage, keeping her eyes downcast to avoid making contact with the audience.
But as she came to realize how much people enjoyed her music, she gradually
evolved into a more confident, outgoing performer. The group's appearances at
Blues Alley, the Wharf, the Birchmere, 219, Fleetwood's and other D.C. area
clubs attracted a hard-core following.
Frustrated by the record industry, Biondo and Dale decided to showcase Eva's
music on a self-produced CD, taped live at Georgetown's Blues Alley in January
1996. Characteristically, she was unsatisfied with the results, and begged them
not to release the album. After considerable persuasion, a compromise was reached.
She agreed to let them issue the live CD if she could immediately begin working
on a follow-up studio album. Her insecurity about Live At Blues Alley was unfounded.
When the album appeared in June, Washington reviewers hailed it as one of the
most accomplished solo vocal debuts of the decade. The public's response was
equally enthusiastic. Despite minimal advertising and limited airplay, Live
at Blues Alley became one of the D.C. area's best-selling records of 1996.
One of the greatest voices of her generation, Eva Cassidy never regretted failing
to achieve the recognition she deserved. People who knew and loved her feel
that this private, stubborn, sensitive woman would not have tolerated the intrusions
and inconveniences of celebrity, and probably would have pedaled away from the
limelight on her bicycle. Eva By Heart is the treasure she has bequeathed
to us. Its appearance commemorates an extraordinary creative spirit and marks
the beginning of an inspiring musical legend. - Excerpts from the Liner
Notes of Eva By Heart