As a longtime fans of the late, great Eva Cassidy my wife and I had frequently had the same thought. How would Eva have fared as a contestant on American Idol?
This season, we agreed that the question may finally have been answered in the form of the year’s most compelling performer, Crystal Bowersox.
If you have been exposed to the complete portfolio of music from Eva Cassidy, you know that she was one of our most talented and versatile artists.
Practically unknown during her lifetime and only discovered by the mainstream through a series of posthumous releases of earlier recordings, she was equally at home in several genres and could pull off everything from blues, to gospel, to jazz, to pop.
While most singers trying to cover “Over the Rainbow” pale in comparison to Judy Garland, listening to this Eva Cassidy version quickly makes you realize that she may have actually done the impossible … she may have improved on the classic. Hey … If the note she hits around the 3:35 mark on the recording doesn’t have a strong emotional impact on you, check your batteries. You may be due for a recharge.
And goodness knows it is hard to improve on Aretha, but you have to be in total awe at the ease with which she handles this live performance of “Chain of Fools” …
I have no doubt that Eva Cassidy would have ruled American Idol.
All season long, Crystal Bowersox appeared to be Eva Cassidy reincarnate.
Her three-song performance in the finals was practically flawless as she emulated Janis Joplin on “Me & Bobby McGee” and was spot-on with her version of “Black Velvet” by Alannah Miles, before concluding with a riveting version of “Up the Mountain” by Patty Griffin.
In short, she was practically perfect in every way, just like Eva Cassidy would have been if she had been given the chance.
But, to our amazement Crystal didn’t win. She came in second to the personable and popular Lee Dewyze … extremely talented, but by comparison, a rather mundane performer whose victory once again exposed the serious flaw in the selection process of American Idol. More times than not the system has allowed the voting public to choose the winner based more on emotion than on talent and ability.
So maybe Eva Cassidy would not have ruled American Idol after all.
But, she would have dominated that stage for the entire season and in the end, if she wasn’t chosen by the voters, we would have been left scratching our heads and saying … WOW! How did THAT happen??