Teenaged Evie Sands learned early in her career that the music business could be cruel. After recording some singles in her mid-teens that failed to make the charts, she recorded a powerful song called “Take Me for a Little While” in 1965. Thrilled that she was about to have her first hit, Evie waited excitedly for the single’s release. Unbeknownst to her, a test copy of the record had been stolen from the studio by a producer, who sold it to a competing record label. They quickly recorded their own version of the song, featuring Jackie Ross, and released it before Evie’s recording could be shipped. The song worked its way into the charts, beating out Evie’s version when it was released a week later. Sadly, this incident would set the tone for Evie’s recording career.
The Brooklyn-born Evie possessed a darkly beautiful voice that sounded far more mature than her age would attest. Her penchant for soulful material prompted an impressed Dusty Springfield to declare her “My favorite singer”. Despite her failure to chart, those in the know were sure that it was just a matter of time before Evie became a star. After the debacle of “Take Me for a Little While”, she released her next single, “I Can’t Let Go”, in 1966. This time it was the Hollies who would swoop in and score the hit.
Deciding that a change of record labels might solve some of her problems, Evie signed with Cameo-Parkway the next year. She found and recorded the original version of “Angel of the Morning”, and the DJ copies sent to radio stations paid off as the record was widely played. The label pressed 10,000 copies of the single and shipped them to stores, where they quickly sold out. It looked as though Evie was about to score her hit, at last. Then Cameo-Parkway announced their bankruptcy, and no more copies of the single could be released. Interest in the song petered out, until a few months later when Merrilee Rush released her version of the song. It became a top five national hit.
Devastated and without a record label, Evie began to explore writing songs and playing guitar. Her talent still made her an in-demand performer, and she appeared on the Johnny Cash Show. In 1969 Evie scored another record deal and began recording a batch of songs for a full-length album. “Any Way That You Want Me”, the first single released from these sessions, finally brought Evie to the charts. It eventually sold half a million copies. Momentum was building for Evie, but the delay of the album’s release caused it to miss the charts, despite the strength of each of its tracks. The album Any Way That You Want Me is something of a lost classic. Blue-eyed soul mixed with country and folk on songs like “But You Know I Love You” and “One Fine Summer Morning”. The album saw the debut of one of Evie’s original compositions, “It’s This I Am”, a song that was later covered by both Beck and Beth Orton. She even re-recorded “Take Me for a Little While”, her first near-hit.
After the release of Any Way That You Want Me, Evie began to focus on her writing. Her 1970s albums, Estate of Mind and Suspended Animation, had a singer-songwriter sound that blended more easily with popular music of the day. The 1990s saw a revival of interest in her work, leading her to record a bluesy album called Women in Prison in 1999. Superstardom eluded her, but she remains an icon to fans who have stumbled upon her early singles and her masterpiece debut album.