Her full name was Eva Narcissus Boyd; she was the tenth of 16 children. She was born in Belhaven, North Carolina but moved to Brighton Beach, New York at a young age. As a teenager, she worked as a maid and earned extra money as a babysitter of Louise Goffin (the daughter of songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin).
Eva was named after her aunt. As a result, her aunt became "Big Eva" and she became "Little Eva."
Before her success as a solo artist (and with the connections of King and Goffin), she worked as a backup singer for various artists and as a stand-in for a girl group called The Cookies.
The song "He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)
" was inspired by what happened to Eva when she spent a weekend with her boyfriend. When that weekend ended, she came to see King and Goffin, who noticed various bruises on her body.
One day, King and Goffin were working on a song for Dee Dee Sharp when Eva began doing a unique dance. Her dancing was the inspiration for the lyrics "Everybody's doin' a brand new dance now (Come on, baby! Do the Loco-Motion)." Thus, the song "The Loco-Motion" was born. King and Goffin had her record the song as a demo and they sent it to Don Kirshner who was impressed by the song (and Eva's voice) and had it released just the way it was recorded.
Although Little Eva had become of age just after beginning her professional singing career, she looked very young for her age, having a height that was less than five feet. In order to make her appealing to audiences under 18, her producers decided that her professional name would be "Little Eva" (which was something her family had called her beforehand) and they told different parts of the media that she was two years younger than she really was. This is a reason why some sources say that she was born in 1945.
After the success of "The Loco-Motion," Eva was unfortunately stereotyped as a dance-craze singer and was given limited material. She continued recording and performing throughout the sixties, but her commercial potential plummeted after 1964. She retired from the music business in 1971.
In 1988, it was Kylie Minogue's cover of "Loco-Motion" which helped the public regain interest in Little Eva and led to her comeback in show business. She soon began performing live on the cabaret and oldies circuits and occasionally recorded new material. She continued working until October of 2001 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She succumbed to the disease two years later. She was survived by two daughters, two sons, 15 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, two brothers, and three sisters. (thanks, Jerro - New Alexandria, PA, for all above)
Eva has 2 daughters - Josette and Doretha, and 3 sons: Darius, Cain and one who preceded her in death. (thanks, Crystal - New Bern, NC)