Eva Cassidy How Can I Keep from Singing

Vocalist ‘absolutely mesmerized’ by singer’s unique song stylings

NANAIMO - TheatreOne hosts the musical Eva Cassidy How Can I Keep from Singing at the Malaspina Theatre, Nov. 18-22.

Cayla Brooke couldn’t shake the rare singing style of Eva Cassidy out of her head after learning about the artist.Cassidy was generally unknown during her lifetime, outside her home state of Washington. It wasn’t until after her death of melanoma in 1996 that her music gained recognition on the international market with more than 10 million of her recordings sold worldwide.Brooke learned about Cassidy from her massage therapist, which prompted her to look up the star on YouTube.“I was absolutely mesmerized,” said Brooke. “It was just an instant fascination and I couldn’t believe as a vocalist I had never heard of her. She is basically a North American treasure, but she isn’t well known in North America.”What was unique about Cassidy, said Brooke, is she became famous for singing cover songs instead of original compositions.“She was a real song stylist and was able to have a real unique take on songs. They are sometimes breathtakingly beautiful,” said Brooke.The similarities between their lives also struck Brooke. They were both self-taught singers and had similar styles.Cassidy’s life inspired Brooke to write a play about her journey discovering the singer. She wrote, Eva Cassidy How Can I Keep from Singing, in May 2013 and through hard work and persistence by September 2013 she was performing it on stage. Brooke plays herself in the production.“I don’t play her. I do my spin on her spin of the songs,” said Brooke.It touches on Cassidy’s life from her beginnings in Washington to her untimely death at age 33. Brooke said in the past some people have shied away from the production because they think it is a sad story. While they do touch on her death it also focuses on her talent and unique delivery of loved songs.“People will cry, but not cry because of the story, but because of the music,” said Brooke.The show features 25 well-known songs including Over the Rainbow. The production stars Brooke, Tom Pickett and a four-piece band led by B.C. Hall of Fame inductee Bill Sample.Eva Cassidy is presented by TheatreOne. It shows at Vancouver Island University’s Malaspina Theatre. The show is at 8 p.m. Nov. 18-22, with a 2 p.m. matinee Nov. 22. Tickets are $25 or $15 for students and are available by calling 250-754-8550 or www.porttheatre.com.arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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