Eva Cassidy to release new album with help of AI technology

ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar reports as Eva Cassidy's voice is brought back to life using AI technology to create a new album.

Listening to Eva Cassidy can be an emotional experience.

There is the clarity, the purity, the beauty of her voice.

And then, of course, there is the backstory, a tragic one, of a great talent, only discovered by the world after her death.

She would have turned 60 this February and now to mark that anniversary, a new recording is being released of Eva Cassidy’s songs, set to an orchestral score provided by the London Symphony Orchestra

More used to recording music with the singer present, to do this, the musicians had her voice played to them through headphones as they accompanied her.

Eva Cassidy died three decades ago, but in her short life, she did do a number of recordings, most notably of her singing live at the Blues Alley club in her native Washington DC.

Those performances in a noisy club with chatter and diners present, would go on to be her first live solo album; Live At Blues Alley.

It was self-financed. Cassidy, incredibly, struggled to find a record label, and it was while the singer was promoting this, that she found out she was ill.

Cassidy died from cancer in 1996, at the age of 33, just months after her live album was released.

At that point, she was relatively unknown outside her home state, but a recording of her version of Songbird, written by the late Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac fame started to circulate and her reputation grew.

Her music was discovered by the likes of Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2 who championed her.

She ended up with a number one album, her songs were used on film and TV, and she built-up a celebrity fanbase, who sang her praises.

Eva Cassidy had been experimenting with her music, looking for an orchestral sound.

But it is only now that her dream has been realised, her new album, I Can Only Be Me, has been around seven years in the making.

The desire to use her live recordings from the 1996 concert meant that technology was required to make her voice clear and separate it from the noise that would be happening in a live club.

With new arrangements by the classical composer, Christopher Willis and the use of AI technology, similar to that used recently by director Peter Jackson to make his film The Beatles: Get Back, the sound is of an extraordinary singer with a huge orchestral backing, as if she’d been in the studio with the musicians.

Eva Cassidy's pianist, Lenny Williams, says she would be recording music with orchestral accompaniment if she was alive today. Credit: ITV News

She has already sold around 12 million albums to date and this new release, says her pianist Lenny Williams, who played alongside her at that live gig in 1996, is exactly what she’d be doing now if she were still alive.

There will be some purists, who think that her exquisite voice should be left just as it is, not in need of any accompaniment but, says Williams, everyone should have a chance to discover her,  projects like this mean she can continue to reach new generations of music lovers.

Eva Cassidy apparently never understood just how great she was in her lifetime.

But since her death millions have found her.

It is of course tragic that she is not here to see what an impact she continues to have.

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