When someone mentions the great Miss Eva Cassidy, people are either die hard fans or have never had the pleasure of hearing her music.
Regardless to which category you fall under, you are in for a treat when you see “Blues in the Night” presented by the Australasian Chinese Theatre Company, where musicians Tegan Jones and Will Mcmahon will perform an entire show dedicated to this amazing artist.
Eva Cassidy was born on 2 February 1963 in the USA. She grew up singing and playing guitar with her father, creating her own unique interpretations of jazz, blues, folk, gospel, country and pop favourites. Despite having the sweet, smooth voice of an angel and more soul than most musicians, she remained relatively unknown during her lifetime. She released three small albums before her tragic death in 1996 at the age of 33. Four years later, a fuzzy home video of her singing “Over the Rainbow” played on British hit show Top of the Pops 2. The video became the most requested video ever to be played on the show and skyrocketed Eva’s popularity. Nowadays, she has numerous top-selling posthumous albums credited to her name and her music regularly pops up in television, films and mp3 players worldwide!
I had the honour of interviewing Tegan about “Blues in the Night”:
TP: Why did you choose to do a show based on the great Miss Eva Cassidy’s work?
TEGAN: To begin with, I honestly just loved her music and her voice. I had been a fan of her work for years and I thought, “Why not create an opportunity for myself to sing her music?” It wasn’t until I began to do some serious research about her life, her family and friends, her music and aspirations as a person that I began to truly learn what a fascinating and complex person she was. I found some significant differences between Eva and I, but at the same time, we shared similar insecurities and perfectionist nature.
TP: What other musical influences can we expect to hear in your performance?
TEGAN: While the whole show is based on Eva Cassidy, all of her songs are recognisable tunes – ones that have either been made famous by her singing them or others that are well known by the original artists. Aside from Eva’s renditions, we have also got Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, to name a few. It’s definitely an eclectic mix!
TP: How long have you been performing and what drew you to it in the first place?
TEGAN: I got my first taste for performing when I sang at a wedding at age ten. From there I just knew that singing and performing was more than just a hobby. I have had vocal training since I was eleven years old. I got into music theatre when I was fifteen and have spent the last nine years performing in twelve musicals and have produced with both UMMTA and New Beat. I guess I have felt that through all my music theatre experience, trying my hand at Cabaret was the next step.
TP: If you could recommend one song to all of the "Eva Cassidy newbies" out there to start with, what would it be and why?
TEGAN: The song that got Eva heard internationally was her rendition of “Over the Rainbow”. If a newbie was going to start with any song, I think it should be this one because this is the song that made scores of people fall in love with her voice.
TP: Please tell us more about where the proceeds from this performance will go.
TEGAN: As Eva died of skin cancer at such a young age, it seemed only appropriate to support others with cancer. Our donation will be going to CanCare, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families. For more information about this great organisation, please visit their website: www.cancare.org
TP: You mentioned that this performance will challenge the audience to ask what it really means to be true to themselves. What does this mean for you?
TEGAN: One thing that really set Eva apart from her contemporaries was the fact she was always true to what she believed in and would not sway away from those values. For example, she was approached by record labels wanting to sign her up and she refused every time. She did not want to be pigeon-holed into a particular genre of music just for marketing purposes; she did not want to be told how to dress or what to say. She just wanted to sing what she connected with and she also was not afraid to say no and wait for the right opportunity to come. For me, I think that is a very admirable quality to have.
“Blues in the Night”
WHEN: 6-9 May @ 8PM
WHERE: The ACT Studio – 11 Cole Street, Brighton
PRICE: $15 per person