Maryland native Eva Cassidy loved music from the time she was a child, a quality that was nurtured by her father, who taught her how to play guitar. In 1986, when she was in her early 20s, her friend Dave Lourim persuaded her to sing backup for his soft rock group, Method Actor. While at the studio, she struck up a friendship with producer Chris Biondo, who offered to help record her demo. Cassidy -- who had also sung backup with rapper E-40 and go-go funksters E.U. -- proved her vocals were formidable and eclectic. When Chuck Brown decided to do an album of jazz and blues standards, he knew where to find his vocal partner; The Other Side was released in 1992. She then shopped her demo, but labels felt her style was too difficult to market. Disillusioned, Cassidy moved to Annapolis. In summer 1996, she began feeling pain in her hips; an X-ray showed that melanoma from years past had spread into her lungs and bones. She died on November 2 that year. Two years later, a small label released Songbird, an album of Cassidy's songs and demos. BBC Radio 2 DJ Terry Wogan picked up her version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and the album soon topped the British charts.