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Cassadee Pope finds her voice in country music

RASCAL FLATTS

The Band Perry and
Cassadee Pope

♦ 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park

♦ Tickets, $19.75-$71.50

♦ (800) 745-3000; livenation.com

Maps

Updated: September 17, 2013 7:35AM



The season 3 winner of NBC’s “The Voice” would like to get one thing straight — her coach Blake Shelton did not force the tattooed rocker to go country.

“Most people don’t even know that I actually grew up singing country music,” says soon-to-be-24-year-old songstress Cassadee Pope.

“Country music feels very natural to me. Considering where country music is now, I knew that this genre would allow me to incorporate my pop rock influences as well. I was excited to not have to compromise.”

Granted, the evolution of the music generated by the former lead singer of rock band Hey Monday might still throw her longtime fans for quite a loop.

“My fans have seen me go through so many phases, whether it was different clothes or different hairstyles or different music,” says Pope during a recent interview with Sun Times Media.

“They knew me as a kid, and now I have grown into an adult. A ton of my old fans from Hey Monday have actually come up to me to tell me that they never really listened to country music
before, but because of me, they have expanded their horizons and broadened their music interests. As far as I’m concerned, pop rock and country go hand in hand anyway.”

Indeed, the line between country and pop rock seems to get blurrier by the second, which plays right into the hand of Pope, who spent many an evening playing gigs at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen and sneaking into Angels & Kings during her days with Hey Monday. These days, Nashville, Tenn., seems quite cozy to Pope.

“When I was younger, I was infatuated with the song ‘Crazy’ and practically idolized Patsy Cline,” Pope recalls. “I remember listening to her as a kid, but I had no idea that she had passed.

“I specifically remember watching the movie ‘Sweet Dreams’ about her life and bawling when I saw that she had been killed in a plane accident. It was so bizarre. I was just really attached to that song and her.”

Pope has now attached her hopes to her own music, preparing to release her country debut, “Frame By Frame,” Oct. 8. Going into the studio to work alongside Nashville songwriting powerhouses such as Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose and producer Dann Huff, Pope says she left the studio with the music that felt quite natural to her.

“Dann understood me before we even had time to sit down and have an actual conversation about what I wanted to accomplish with this record,” she says of Huff, the former lead singer of 1990s melodic hard rock band Giant. “His pop and rock and country sensibilities went perfectly with what I wanted to do. After getting into the studio just two times, he told me everything he could see for me. We are very alike in terms of sensibilities and instincts in the studio.”

So far, this magical combination between producer and songwriter and artist has resulted in the successful lead single “Wasting All These Tears,” which already scored more than 200,000 downloads and soared to the No. 1 spot on the iTunes top country songs chart.

“Watching other artists while out on tour has helped me learn that I don’t need to overcompensate,” Pope says. “Whether it’s watching Rascal Flatts or the Band Perry or even Blake [Shelton], it’s really just about putting out amazing music and putting on a great show. I’m comfortable just being myself. It definitely makes me feel good to know that I belong here.”

Tricia Despres is a local freelance writer.



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