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Eva Cassidy's SONGBIRD Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Reaching #1 on UK Charts

SONGBIRD catapulted to #1 on the UK charts on March 18, 2001 on the heels of airplay on Terry Wogan’s BBC Radio program.

Eva Cassidy's SONGBIRD Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Reaching #1 on UK Charts

Her voice is unmistakable for its power and poignancy. For millions, it has become familiar, like an old friend, while those just hearing her are welcomed to a worldwide club - those who remember the first time they heard Eva Cassidy. Eva's club now celebrates the 20th Anniversary of SONGBIRD reaching the top of the British charts, completing its 133 week UK chart record journey after its initial 1998 release.

The SONGBIRD compilation, released by independent Blix Street Records 18 months after her untimely passing from melanoma at age 33 in November of 1996, turned Eva Cassidy into an unlikely superstar. The small catalog of music she left behind continues to reach new audiences via various unconventional vehicles.

SONGBIRD catapulted to #1 on the UK charts on March 18, 2001 on the heels of airplay on Terry Wogan's BBC Radio program and two airings of a grainy video of Cassidy performing "Over the Rainbow" from the album on the UK's popular Top of the Pops2 television program. Meanwhile, back in the States, an NPR Morning Edition segment had driven four Cassidy albums to the top four spots on Amazon's Pop Chart in December of 2000. Topping the British Pop Chart three months later ignited a U.S. media storm where outlets from The Today Show to ABC World News Tonight to CNN to ABC News Nightline weighed in on the phenomenon that was Eva Cassidy.

Cassidy became known for her exquisite taste in choosing her material, her impeccable arrangements and her incredible ability to re-imagine a familiar song and make it her personal property. People Magazine wrote of SONGBIRD at the time: "Whether in jazz, folk, or inspirational music, Cassidy's potential was huge, and this album stands as a testament to popular music's loss."

Eva Cassidy's extraordinarily versatile voice has also been on display beyond her recordings. The "Masked Dancer" contestant known as The Tulip (who was later revealed to be McKenzie Ziegler of Dance Moms fame) performed a routine to Cassidy's version of Sting's song "Fields of Gold" from the SONGBIRD album on Episode 4 of this season of the Fox competition show. It was noted that her performance brought guest panelist actor Rob Lowe to tears.

Cassidy's rendition of "Wayfaring Stranger," also from SONGBIRD, will be featured in an episode of the CW Network series Walker.

In one of the more innovative and effective uses of an Eva Cassidy track, Novant Health, a four-state health care network based in North Carolina, created its Arms Against Covid ad encouraging people to get vaccinated against Covid19 to a soundtrack of Eva's version of "People Get Ready," also from SONGBIRD.

Additionally, Cassidy's signature rendition of Cyndi Lauper's classic "Time After Time," the title track from the follow up to SONGBIRD, has been serving as the soundtrack for a Kay Jewelers' national advertising campaign. The Someday campaign, as in "someday I'll marry you," was originally rolled out in October on various primetime cable shows on E!, AMC, Oxygen, TLC and others and has continued to expand onto broadcast network ad buys as well. There are now :15 second, :30 second and long form variations of the ad, which has been viewed over 250,000 times on YouTube.

And, the Eva Cassidy version of "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" (from her album IMAGINE) played over a heart-rending scene in the concluding episode of the new Netflix series Firefly Lane starring Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke.

Cassidy's wide-ranging, but unerringly tasteful, sense of material-seen as a marketing weakness by major record labels during her lifetime-was viewed as an extreme strength by independent label Blix Street, who focused on more discerning public radio audiences. It turned out Eva was right the first time. Her breadth and taste have continued to propel interest in her recorded work all these years later. Her versions of iconic songs have made their way onto myriad soundtracks, among them Love, Actually, Maid in Manhattan, Smallville, Dawson's Creek and This Is Us. US Ladies Figure Skating Champion Michelle Kwan famously skated to Eva's Fields of Gold during the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and Eva's voice singing "Over the Rainbow" underscored the In Memoriam segment of the 2015 Annual Emmy Awards. In addition to the recent Masked Dancer, there has been continuing use of her arrangements and recordings on television talent shows such as The X Factor, The Voice, American Idol, America's Got Talent and Dancing With The Stars.

SONGBIRD has been certified Platinum in the U.S. for sales of more than 1,000,000 units, while in the UK, the album is 6x Platinum and spent a total of six months in the UK Top 10 (two weeks of those at Number 1). She later had two other #1 albums on the UK chart and is one of a handful of female artists to have achieved ten British Gold albums

This year Blix Street released Eva Cassidy ACOUSTIC featuring 20 of her best-loved acoustic tracks. "Time After Time" leads off the new collection, which also includes favorites such as her acoustic interpretations of "Wade in the Water," "Kathy's Song," "Autumn Leaves," "American Tune" and "Songbird." With the dual anniversaries in 2021 of the 25th of the recording and release of LIVE AT BLUES ALLEY, her first solo album, and the 20th of SONGBIRD reaching #1 in the UK, Blix Street will release special re-mastered editions of both albums.

ONE NIGHT THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING, a new documentary featuring interviews of Eva's band members in the BLUES ALLEY venue while viewing full screen videos of their original January 3, 1996 performances, was posted on YouTube on January 3, 2021 to commemorate the event of 25 years ago.

From This Author - Sarah Jae Leiber

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