Unheard Eva Cassidy tracks to be released

In 1996 Eva Cassidy sadly passed away before her music managed to break through. Despite having one of the most beautiful voices of her generation it wasn't until 'Fields of Gold' that the public took notice.

On 13th November, nearly 20 years after her death, we're finally getting to hear eight new songs on Nightbird.

You can pre-order Nightbird at Amazon.

Nightbird, to be released on 13 November, documents the special night in musical history (3 January 1996) when Eva and her band performed at the Blues Alley jazz club in Georgetown, D.C. The performances were recorded for what was to become the only solo Eva Cassidy album released during her lifetime. The original Live At Blues Alley album only featured 12 of the 31 songs recorded that night.

20 years on, Nightbird includes all 31 songs, along with 12 video performances, such as: Over The Rainbow, Time After Time, Nightbird and Bridge Over Troubled Water. It will be released as a limited edition 2CD + bonus DVD package, as well as a 4LP gatefold heavyweight vinyl package that also includes the 2CD and DVD discs.

The 31 performances feature 12 previously unreleased recordings, including: Nightbird and jazz standards It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) and Fever. 8 of the songs have never been heard before! They showcase Eva’s wide musical range, among them: Son Of A Preacher Man, Route 66, Late In The Evening, Baby I Love You and Caravan.

The recordings have been remixed and re-mastered from the original tapes, and the concert footage has undergone painstaking restoration. Fans can now enjoy an experience that is close to what Eva’s fans, friends and family actually witnessed on that magical evening.

After Eva cashed in a small pension from her job at a tree nursery to pay for the recording, Eva and her band – bassist Chris Biondo, pianist Lenny Williams, lead guitarist Keith Grimes and drummer Raice McLeod – took to the Blues Alley stage with modest hopes.

“We thought we’d get airplay, and sell a thousand copies so Eva could put some money toward a PA system,” explains Biondo in the upcoming documentary, The Night That Changed Everything, that celebrates the Blues Alley 20th anniversary [Eva’s Band re-visits the Blues Alley venue to view videos from the night with then and now perspectives].

Nobody imagined that the audio and video recordings captured that night would prove to be the foundation of Eva Cassidy’s unparalleled posthumous international success.

Many of Eva’s signature interpretations recorded that night have become fan-favourites…Fields Of Gold, People Get Ready, Ain’t No Sunshine, Wonderful World… Autumn Leaves was the first song played by Terry Wogan on his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show which, following an extraordinary reaction from his audience, was followed by the DJ championing more Eva songs, many from the Blues Alley recordings.

Blues Alley footage of Eva performing Over The Rainbow propelled Eva’s Songbird album to the top of the UK album chart in 2001, after it was broadcast (and re-broadcast following a wave of phone calls, emails and letters from viewers) on TOP2 on BBC2. Songbird, one of the best-selling albums of 2001, was followed by two more No. 1 albums… Imagine (in 2002) and American Tune (in 2003)… but it all began at Blues Alley on the night of 3 January 1996.

The Nightbird album concludes with Eva’s ‘studio’ recording of Oh, Had I A Golden Thread, also a bonus track on the original Live At Blues Alley album. On first listen to the Blues Alley recordings Eva was disappointed. She had been suffering from a cold and thought her singing below par. Fortunately for music lovers everywhere, once she heard the final mixes Eva was persuaded by her band-mates to allow the original Live At Blues Alley album to be released – with one condition – that the album end with her ‘studio’ recording of Oh, Had I A Golden Thread, a performance she was particularly proud of.

The night of 3rd January 1996 proved to be the high point of Eva Cassidy’s tragically short career as a performer… and the beginning of her legendary posthumous career as a recording artist. Within 10 months of Blues Alley she was gone, having been diagnosed with melanoma by mid-year.

Bill Straw, president of Eva’s posthumous label Blix Street Records, heard the original Live At Blues Alley album in late September of 1996, shortly before Eva died. “By the time I finished listening to the whole album, I had heard one of the best singers ever,” he recalls. “I knew she was going to be famous, but also knew she would not live to enjoy it.”

Compiling the 31 Blues Alley performances into one Nightbird album was a daunting task for Straw. “Would so much…somehow be less?” But his first hearing of the 31 songs in one sitting resolved all questions in favour of a Nightbird super-album. “I’d never heard anything that approached the sheer vocal excellence of these 31 one-take, all-in-one night performances. Hearing the ‘full Monty’ also brought new appreciation of Eva’s band and their collective understanding of their respective roles in underscoring Eva’s musical genius over such a diverse musical programme. Everyone who hears these performances has a similar reaction.”

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