Eva Cassidy is probably the highest selling talent you have never heard of.
She worked in a garden center in the suburbs of Washington, D. C. and as a furninture painter while trying to break into the music business. She was unknown outside of her native DC.
She recorded and played in local clubs mostly covers of jazz, folks, blues, pop, R&B and Gospel.
In 1996 she passed away from melanoma at the age of 33 and in 2000 a BBC show featured this song one morning on the radio.
Suddenly, she was an over night sensation in Europe. In 2001 a Nightline feature brought her to the attention of the US and by that weekend she was the highest selling artist on Amazon.com. By 2005 she held the 5th over all place behind The Beatles, US, Norah Jones and Diana Krall on Amazon.
Every time I play this for a new group of friends, someone inevitably says "who is this?". The first time I heard it, it was one of those I-have-to-pull-over-from-tears moments.