For a neighborhood that is not known much for live music anymore, Georgetown has an incredibly rich history of it. Whether it’s Mile Davis recording at the Cellar Door, John Denver debuting “Take Me Home Country Roads” at the same venue, or Roberta Flack getting her start at the Georgetown Mr. Henry’s before getting her own venue at the Capitol Hill spot, Georgetown has a lot to brag about. But another legend–one who died before her time–staked her place in Georgetown music lore: Eva Cassidy.
Cassidy was a DC-based singer songwriter who worked in jazz, blues and folk. After a successful stint working with the great Chuck Brown, Cassidy looked to record as a record to launch her career as a solo artist. She brought her band to Blues Alley a few days after New Years Day 1996 and recorded over two nights. The result was Live at Blues Alley.
Sadly, Cassidy died eleven months later. But her story didn’t end there. A British radio deejay plucked one of her albums from relative obscurity and played it. The public responded with huge enthusiasm, picking up 100,000 copies. Her posthumous success took off even more when a video from her appearance at Blues Alley of her singing her signature tune, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, hit the British airwaves. Her album sales skyrocketed, eventually reaching millions of copies sold. By 2005, Amazon was listing her as the fifth highest selling artist of all time.
The video above is a documentary on Cassidy’s nights at Blues Alley, the place it all kicked off. It’s well worth your watching.