The Sunday Series: Eva Cassidy


Eva Cassidy.  Her voice is haunting, penetrating. 


Eva was….”an American singer and guitarist known for her interpretations of jazz, folk, and blues music, blessed with a powerful, emotive soprano voice. In 1992, she released her first album, The Other Side, a set of duets with go-go musician Chuck Brown, followed by the 1996 live solo album titled Live at Blues Alley. Although she had been honored by the Washington Area Music Association, she was virtually unknown outside her native Washington, D.C. She died of melanoma in 1996 at the age of 33.”  …says Wikipedia.

And that’s why Eva Cassidy features on today’s The Sunday Series – melanoma.    “Melanoma develops from skin cells called melanocytes. These are found in the deeper layers of the skin and produce a protein called melanin. Melanin protects the skin by absorbing harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

There are the same number of melanocytes in dark and fair skin, but the melanocytes in darker skin produce more melanin. People from ethnic groups with naturally darker skin have more protection against UV radiation and so are less likely to get skin cancers, including melanoma.

Did you know?

  • New Zealand and Australia have the highest rates of melanoma in the world.
  • Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in New Zealand.
  • Māori and Pacific people have a much lower chance of getting melanoma, but often have thicker (more serious) melanomas.
  • About half of all melanomas are first found by the person themselves.
  • Early identification of a melanoma can lead to earlier and more effective treatment.

Causes of melanoma

Sun exposure Most melanomas are caused by exposure to UV radiation in sunlight. Sun exposure in childhood gives a greater risk of melanoma than sun exposure in later life. There is also a greater risk of melanoma with high doses of sun exposure occasionally (eg, during holiday and recreational activities), than with more continuous sun exposure (eg, daily work outdoors).

Sunbeds  Sunbeds expose users to higher levels of dangerous UV radiation than the sun. They increase your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. Find out more at Sunbeds.

Risk factors for developing melanoma  The chance of developing melanoma increases with age. Although most melanomas are found in people aged 50 years or older, melanoma is reasonably common in younger age groups (especially people aged 25–39 years). Melanoma is rare in children.  Some people are at increased risk or high risk for developing melanoma due to factors such as their skin type or family history. Factors that are known to increase your risk or which make you at high risk for melanoma are listed below.

Increased risk for melanoma These are important risk factors:

  • skin colour (light versus medium or dark skin)
  • hair colour (red or blond hair versus black hair)
  • skin type (burn easily, never tan)
  • skin damage due to sunburn.

High risk for melanoma These are important risk factors:

  • a personal history of melanoma
  • a family history of melanoma in a first-degree relative (parent, brother or sister, child). This risk is higher if more than one relative had a melanoma, if they were young at the time or if one relative had more than one melanoma
  • large number of moles on your skin (more than 50 moles)
  • atypical (dysplastic) ‘funny looking’ moles on your skin
  • a personal history of a previous non-melanoma skin cancer.

If you’re at high risk If you’re at high risk for melanoma, talk to your GP about what methods of protection and checking of your skin is best for you, including how you can recognise and record suspicious skin changes. Partners or carers should also receive this information.

You may be encouraged to have regular checks by your doctor, with 6-monthly whole-body skin examinations. Your doctor may use dermoscopy and total body photography to help in assessing spots and monitoring your skin over time.

This page was adapted from the booklet Melanoma: Information for you, your family, whānau and friends, produced by the former New Zealand Guidelines Group.  From the New Zealand Ministry of Health website.

I often sit and watch Eva Cassidy on  YouTube.  I often feel an overwhelming sense of loss creep over me as I watch such a beautiful and talented young woman who died so early, too early.  

“Two years after her death, Cassidy’s music was brought to the attention of British audiences, when her versions of “Fields of Gold” and “Over the Rainbow” were played by Mike Harding and Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2. Following the overwhelming response, a camcorder recording of “Over the Rainbow”, taken at Blues Alley in Washington by her friend Bryan McCulley, was shown on BBC Two‘s Top of the Pops 2. Shortly afterwards, the compilation album Songbird climbed to the top of the UK Albums Chart, almost three years after its initial release. The chart success in the United Kingdom and Ireland led to increased recognition worldwide. Her posthumously released recordings, including three number-one albums and one number-one single in the UK, have sold more than ten million copies.[1] Her music has also charted within the top 10 in Australia, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.”  Wikipedia.    I would prefer she had lived to achieve international recognition 

‘Jazz critic Ted Gioia writes, “you might be tempted to write off the ‘Cassidy sensation’ … as a response to the sad story of the singer’s abbreviated life rather than as a measure of her artistry. But don’t be mistaken, Cassidy was a huge talent, whose obscurity during her lifetime was almost as much a tragedy as her early death.” Wikipedia

This article for The Sunday Series on ARTbop has been compiled from text, image and YouTube video material available online.

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

Commemoration of the Battle of Gate Pa Pukehinahina will be held in 2020 on the 28th of October at 4pm at St George’s Anglican Church Gate Pa.    Covid19 prevented commemoration in April.


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