While I was posting my first Artist Spotlight video on YouTube (Helene Grimaud), a black and white photo of the late Eva Cassidy appeared in my feed. Oddly, in my 30 years as an arts journalist, I had not heard of this singer. I saw that the video was for her 1996 cover of "Autumn Leaves," a perennial favorite song of mine. So I clicked on the video thus changing my life...
The short biography for Eva is that she learned how to sing and play guitar as a child. Then she became a breath-taking interpreter of classic songs from various genres (mostly emotionally-charged songs). She was shy but she performed on stages in Washington, D.C. and she garnered a loyal following. She was diagnosed with skin cancer in 1993 and this seemed like it was cured. The cancer returned in 1996 and Eva succumbed to it on November 2, 1996, which also happens to be All Soul's Day. Then through a strange chain of events, Eva's songs make it to England and BBC radio hosts champion her. And Eva Cassidy experiences worldwide fame from beyond the grave. Pretty spooky, no? But also quite healing for those of us who love beautiful renderings of our favorite songs. But there's more...
Now, before we gaze in depth at Eva's charts (birth, 1993 Solar Return, and death charts), I would like to mention the parallels I have with the talented vocalist. I was born one year after Eva and I am also a vocalist and guitarist. Instead of interpreting other people's songs, I composed songs. She resided and performed in Washington D.C. while I resided and performed in the other Washington State. I was also a solo performer with an acoustic guitar, hard to define which genre in which I performed--"not quite folk," was how one journalist described my songs.
Eva died on All Soul's Day in 1996 (November 2) and I'll explain the significance of this later in this article (her Jupiter in Pisces in the 6th House opposing Natal Pluto in the 12th House). My music career died in 1996 due to illness and the stress of toiling away at music for a decade in obscurity. So that's what Eva and I have in common. What we don't have in common is her ingenuity. She was a triple Air Sign with her Aquarius Sun, Gemini Moon, and Libra Rising Sign. And the key planet in her birth chart, transits, and progressions was Jupiter, something she shares in common with Saint Joan of Arc.
As true to her Aquarius Sun, Eva was described as iconoclastic (the interpreter of nostalgic songs), but not in alignment with the usual description of a person with triple Air in their chart, Eva exuded strong emotions in her performances--so much so that I feel weepy when I hear her sing.
The other information I picked up in a channel session is that Eva orchestrated her fame from beyond the grave (I'm not beyond believing this). Not only that, with her big heart love, she helps others suffering in obscurity by helping them to get recognized. Even when she walked and sung upon the Earth, she was multi-dimensional (as we all are to an extent). She was one of those singers that could channel other singers while she performed or in the least, created an expansive space for big energy to sail through. I don't think it's a coincidence that she departed on All Soul's Day, which is also known as, The Day of the Dead or in Spanish, Dias de Los Muertos.
Now, the first thing I look for in a chart reading is the triplicity of the sun/moon/ascendant which I already mentioned are in Air Signs (all three Air Signs). Then I look for clusters of planets in the form of Triple Conjunctions, Duets, and Stelliums (4 or more planets in the same sign or house).
Then I look for Grand Trines and T-Crosses or Grand Crosses. Then I look for retrograde planets, etc... So if Eva was still alive and enlisted my chart reading services, I would mention the duet with her Aquarius Sun in an exact conjunction with Saturn in the Fifth House. She also had Chiron in Pisces (8 degrees) in the same house. Talk about painful! The Fifth House represents the entertainment business, hobbies, friendships, love affairs, recreation and has Leo as its natural ruler. And Eva had the least fun planet, Saturn conjunct her sun in this house, not to mention the painful asteroid Chiron in the spiritual sign of Pisces. By the way, Saturn rules the skin, and Aquarius represents the unexpected while the sun represents outward identity and lifeforce.
Eva had three planets retrograde at the time of her birth (Mars, Uranus, and Pluto). Two of the planets were in Virgo (shy, introverted) and this is significant because her Sun's Ruler Aquarius is represented by Uranus retrograde. Then Mars in Leo (opposite her sun), was also retrograde. So here is someone who desperately wants to be under the spotlight but lacks the courage to do that. Mars and Leo are normally outward energies, but in this chart are retrograde. At least Mars and Uranus fall in the Eleventh House of colleagues, grassroots, and networking. Eva did have a loyal following while she was alive in her hometown. Then later, after her death, her fame has spanned the globe thanks to an Aquarius invention, the Internet.
Eva gets her emotional depth from Neptune in Scorpio in the Second House of gifts and talents (Neptune rules music), Jupiter in Pisces in the Sixth House, and Venus in late Sagittarius falling in the Third House of communication and genius (brain). Venus, in this case, wants to expand on beauty, which comes through in Eva's phrasing and emotional coloring. Her North Node fell in the healing and nurturing Sign Cancer. Ironically, she would also die from skin cancer which can also fall under the Zodiac Signs of Capricorn and Cancer. But mainly, this Cancer North Node brings nurturing through musical expression. Cancer is a nostalgic sign and mostly what Eva performed are songs we equate with nostalgia ("Somewhere over the Rainbow," "What a Wonderful World," and "Autumn Leaves...).
|photo by Patricia Herlevi "Sentinal"|
Jupiter opposes Pluto (which represents death and rebirth) in a House of death and dissolution. Pluto also represents cancer, radiation (skin cancer is caused by the sun's radiation). Eva also worked with the earth as she was a gardener-landscaper by profession. Pluto, Uranus, and Mars which are the final planets in her chart and they are all retrograde (which means going backward or returning to the Source of All That Is) since Pluto lands in the 12th House. She also had Ceres in Virgo (possibly this Dwarf planet's Ruling Sign) in the 12th House, oddly, next to Pluto. And if you know the story of Persephone, Demeter, and Pluto (Hades), then you will understand the significance of this. Isn't undergoing cancer similar to slipping into the Underworld? And Ceres (Demeter) represents agriculture and growing plants, which Eva did for a living. And who is to say, but she probably got cancer from working outdoors with the sun ravishing her fair skin.
Since this post is long, I'm ending it here. However, read Part 2 where we'll gaze at Eva's Solar Return Charts for 1993 (the year her doctor diagnosed her with skin cancer), and 1996, the year of her death. But I'm thinking at this point that there is no real death. Eva's still with us, and not just in her ghostly voice haunting the YouTube streams. Her gift is with us always and we are so blessed to have access to her demo songs.