Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 31: Cassadee Pope

I have a confession to make. This blog, while the music and songs have been enjoyable and impacting and inspirational, has been one of the hardest I’ve ever had to write. Not because I don’t have anything to say. Not in the slightest. Because country singer Cassadee Pope has had an interesting road to stardom. The lead singer of her rock band Hey Monday, as well as competing on the Voice and winning in 2012, then becoming a solo artist (country/pop- way, way, different to what she was doing before!)- there is so much to write about and convey to you all. However, whether consciously or subconsciously, I’ve tried to come up with a ‘perfect’ introduction for this blog. I’m not sure why- the other blogs I’ve written about before, I’ve just typed, and out comes a story or an anecdote. Usually the brief short pearl or pearls of wisdom ties into the artist’s life or their belief or maybe a line in one of my favourite songs of said artists. Writing an introduction for many previous artists I’ve written about, wasn’t tedious, strenuous and tiresome. Yet for this blog about Cassadee Pope– maybe I has reached saturation point in terms of blogs. Perhaps I was just tired in terms of how I was feeling on the day. But this blog introduction, was something that I had been trying to figure out in my head for some time- I just couldn’t work out how to start this blog. You know how they say that first impressions is key. Well I feared that my first impression on Cassadee Pope wouldn’t be adequate and wouldn’t justify her inclusion on my list of ‘up-and-coming influential artists of the next 5-10 years’!

But aren’t I a veteran in blog posting? Don’t I write about artists all the time, and wouldn’t it be second nature for me to be at ease in finding a perfect way to start a blog that isn’t cringy or cliché or formulaic or awkward? You’d think so. But writing blogs isn’t really a walk in the park. After I’ve written a blog and posted it online, I re-read it through maybe once or twice. Usually there’s some spelling mistakes here and there, but more often than not, it actually reads pretty well. And most of the way it flows is ultimately down to the introduction- whether you have a great way to draw readers in or not, I’m actually in awe of a number of my blogs previously, and how seamless and interesting it reads and flows. It actually makes me think that I might have reached my peak in writing about artists (back when I wrote about blogs and tied the artist and the songs to inspiration that we could use during COVID- blogs about Little Mix, Philippa Hanna, Hailee Steinfeld and Hunter Hayes all come to mind!); however… now my line of thinking is a lot more, shall we say different.

Before I used to think that I had to have an event in my life that was crucial or pivotal to my growth as a person- so that I could write about it and link it to the artist I’d be writing about. See, it’d be simple, and even when I was subconsciously just writing in the blogs gone by, the way it read why I read it back, seemed as if it was God ordained and Holy Spirit breathed. It’s as if Jesus was writing the words and I was just the vessel typing away. Before I used to think that my life had to be so grandiose and big for me to write about, and link it to a favourite song of mine. Nowhere did I ever think that a pivotal event in my life isn’t needed at all as a precursor to write about my favourite artist. Can’t I just write about my favourite artist off the bat? With no preamble or introductory paragraph? Jon has done this a number of times, and many times I envy the flow of his blogs overall and especially his introductory paragraphs. Being jealous and envious isn’t something that I pride myself in- and this rarely happens- however at times it does feel like a ‘competition’ between Jon and myself about which blog is better and which blog is more engaging to read. I know it shouldn’t be like that, but sometimes I feel as if it is.

Yet with the saying of ‘you’re only as good as your last work’ running through my brain, at times I have to admit that there is a lot of unseen pressure to write… well the best blog I’ve ever written. I don’t know if this pressure is from myself or from reading other well-crafted reviews and online opinion pieces, but regardless of the origin, it is there. Sometimes hard to get rid of, yet it’s only today that I realised that pressure and feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, of which I feel quite often surrounding my blogs, is something I should write about today as an introduction type of part. That’s the topic I should briefly delve into and just write about it and not really pay attention to the nitty-gritty details of how it flows. Because if I trust my gut and if I trust God while writing, the rest will flow. And reading this blog back maybe by the end of tonight when this is online- perhaps it’ll read better. And this is why. I’m writing about Cassadee Pope– it’s something I decided to do many, many weeks ago. Yet because of Cassadee’s story and her upbringing and how she became a superstar from humble beginnings, and how there was so much pressure on her to succeed after her stint with Hey Monday; perhaps there’s a parallel here to my own unseen pressure to write the ‘perfect’ blog? Am I over thinking this? Am I looking for a correlation that just isn’t there?

Call me crazy, but is it possible that I was meant to have a crisis about my blogging, so that I could have the perfect ‘topic’ to segue into the story of the rise of Cassadee Pope? Perhaps. But what matters is that just as Cassadee’s story has resonated with me deeply, so to will it with all of you. Just as much as sometimes you might want to enter into the perfect conversation and steer it in such a way that you talk about your own favourite topics, so too do we all have tendencies to live perfect lives, to talk about only the things that resonate with us, and to hang out with like minded people like us. But if there’s one thing that listening to Cassadee’s music and knowing more about her story has taught me over the past week, it is this- that trying to plan your future is admirable, sometimes even recommended. But being so rigid in your plans is futile. Being so rigid in how ‘x, y and z’ is going to go without giving room for leeway and room for God to move is so preposterous it isn’t funny. If we are to remember that living life with no regrets and living life to the full means giving in to God and surrendering our plans to the One who is in total control, then that is what we need to do. And Cassadee’s music and her life is proof that surrendering and not being in total control, of your job or your house or your family or your whole life, isn’t a total bad thing at all!

Do you often feel the weight of the world on your shoulders? Like you have a responsibility to do good with your life because of everything you’ve been given and the gifts and the talents you have? I know I personally have felt that due to work and the ins and outs of having a business and doing administration, my piano playing hasn’t progressed past a certain stage, and my gift of playing has sort of stayed stagnant- not blessing anyone, and certainly not at the stage where I can confidently play without mistakes, and play something that I’m proud of. What piano and music hold for me in the future is anyone’s guess, however what I’m driving at was that Cassadee is someone who you know as a country singer, however was the frontperson for Hey Monday- a rock band. It’s something that you might not expect, when you listen to Frame By Frame or Stages; yet the crux of the matter was that after the band split in 2011, Cassadee decided to go solo, and delve into a genre she wasn’t familiar in. She stretched herself musically, and dared to dream to do something different than she had done before. She surrendered into the plan God had for her- which was country music after making a start in a rock band – and once we realise that Cassadee is probably the only artist from The Voice U.S. who has actually made it ‘big’, then we realise that what Cassadee has to say to us is what we should be listening to. Cassadee’s voice isn’t the strongest, but from what I’ve heard, the lyrical content is honest, emotional, vulnerable, impacting and personal. It is for this reason that she is in my blog series. The Voice has been around for ages, yet for only Cassadee to succeed- that says something about her, for sure! I’m sure there was unseen pressure that Cassadee was feeling when she changed genres and split from her band to embark on a solo career. Yet though Cassadee doesn’t have a grandiose or out-of-this-world story, her hardworking nature, passion and determination is admirable, and is definitely something that we all need to emulate now and into the future!

Country music and me haven’t had the most seamless fit, however recently I’ve come to appreciate the genre more and more. I think outside of CCM, country is my favourite music genre- and you would never catch me saying this even a year ago. Oh how things change, don’t you reckon? Cassadee Pope’s three full length albums, as well as her two EP’s, and not to mention her covers album of songs she recorded on the Voice (“Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia, “Payphone” by Maroon 5, “Not Over You” by Gavin DeGraw, “Behind These Hazel Eyes” by Kelly Clarkson, “I’m With You” and “My Happy Ending” by Avril Lavigne, and “Stand” by Rascal Flatts to name a few!); cements my line of thinking that country music is one of the most heartfelt, inspiring, personal, honest and hopeful genres out there. And even though Cassadee isn’t a ‘pure’ country artist like Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert or Martina McBride or Faith Hill and others, and even though one could argue that her albums aren’t ‘country’ albums per se, there are moments here where we just need- as these lyrics minister to my soul and do help us in light of COVID-19. It’s simple- Cassadee’s songs are full of inspiration and full of hope- and in 2020, this is what we need. While Cassadee’s vocals aren’t the strongest compared to other heavyweights and up and coming artists in the country music market, or even in the music market; it is the heartfelt nature and personal nature of these lyrics that have made me stand up to take notice. Frame By Frame, Stages and Rise And Shine aren’t perfect, not by a long shot; but I reckon these albums are perfect for this occasion. It’s perfect for self-reflection and it’s perfect for thinking about the big questions in life.

Back in April, I started thinking about what I could do with this abrupt downtime that felt intentional and inspired. I realized I had songs that could really help people feel through whatever it is they’re going through right now and the purpose of the downtime became clear: to share those songs with you all. I wanted to put something out there that will help aid you and your emotional journeys through everything we are experiencing. 

This project #RiseandShine is really just for you and is there for whatever you need. To cry to it, laugh to it, smile to it. As long as we’re feeling, whether it’s good or bad, we’re ALIVE! 

One of Cassadee’s most inspiring albums that I myself have has the pleasure to hear previously and resonate with greatly is the acoustic album Rise And Shine. But before we dive in deep to that album, we need to backtrack to Cassadee’s first and second albums. They’re pretty underrated, and on the surface they’d probably never be listened to if they were never pointed out to you directly. Lyrically mayure beyond her years, I reckon Frame By Frame and Stages represent two of the most underrated albums I’ve ever heard- and you can agree with me on that or not. However these albums deserve a listen, or maybe even 2 or 3- so once you’ve done that perhaps you can read on!

Debut single from Frame By Frame is “Wasting All These Tears”, a heartfelt rocker whereby Cassadee fervently relays to us the feelings of helplessness and unworthiness and inadequacy she feels after knowing that her ex was playing her- the song is about how she found a out that an ex slept with her friend just after they broke up. It’s an intense tear-jerker, yet also an empowering anthem that basically highlights to us that at some point, we need to start not letting our feelings define who we are, and instead not ‘waste our tears’ on someone who isn’t going to respects us and treat us right. A warning of sorts for those of us in dangerous and volatile relationships, this track reminds us that we need to place our identity in something real and something that doesn’t waver- otherwise we’ll forever be wasting tears on someone who will continually let us down- even immediate family.

Frame By Frame isn’t a potent nor a punchy album on first impression- however the project unexpectedly creeps up on you and stealthily tugs at your emotions- before you know it you’re a wreck, but lyrically this album is necessary, as it says so much about the human condition. “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart” speaks about the kind and good natured intentions of a person even after they break up with someone, as Cassadee sings out that she wishes no ill will toward anyone, even though she wishes she could ‘break your heart’; while the laid back poppish “You Hear A Song” delves into the theme of identity, and reminds us that people around us believe that we are worthy and we are deserving of love and of great things, even if we believe otherwise. For a debut project, these themes are quite profound, and the lyrical meatiness and deepness continue with songs like “11” (a vulnerable piano led melody vividly detailing Cassadee’s parents’ divorce), “Everybody Sings” (a happy-go-lucky live-it-up song that speaks about the power of the song and what the power of singing does to unite each of us towards a common thing to believe in) and “One Song Away” (an emotional piano ballad relaying Cassadee’s feelings towards nearly calling up her ex because of a sentimental song on the radio); while party songs like “Champagne” and “Good Times” don’t have much lyrical substance as opposed to ‘raise your hands up and party like it’s 1999’ kind of vibe- yet these songs do have their place here, as it reminds us that we do need nonsensical tracks whenever we’re feeling low and burdened- as most times it’s these songs that help us get out of our funk!

“Proved You Wrong” is also from Frame By Frame and is a highlight, whereby Cassadee earnestly relays to her ex that she proved him wrong by getting over him quickly but surely- yet the song could also be about proving the doubters wrong by declaring that she is content in country music after predominantly being in rock music. “Edge Of A Thunderstorm”, also from Cassadee’s debut project, is another favourite of mine, whereby Cassadee earnestly relays to us the feeling of a new relationship and comparing it to the edge of a thunderstorm- a feeling that we all hope to feel when we meet that special someone; while Cassadee ends the album with “Cinematic”, as an adjective to describe a new love that is so ‘Hollywood-like’ that it seems like it’s from the movies. All in all, Cassadee Pope’s Frame By Frame is a joy to listen to- and yes it would be the first album from Cassadee that you all should listen to rather than any of the others.

I keep saying therapeutic, but that’s what songwriting is for me. There are three songs on the record [Stages] that I didn’t write that were therapeutic to cut. The first time I heard “If My Heart Had a Heart” was after I was already through the heartbreak and already through the pain, but I was transported back to that time, and I knew I just had to have that song. That’s kind of how I approach any song that I cut, and that’s why I don’t cut a ton of outside songs  [This is] because I have to really connect with them and wish I wrote them, and had to have literally felt those lyrics before.

Life sort of happened during the making of the record. That’s why it’s kind of all over the place lyrically. There are songs about falling in love and being happy, and there are songs about being unhappy and in pain and sad. So, I just sort of let the story unfold naturally.

The last year was such an interesting year. It was testing the waters, sort of a trial period for me. The first time I started making music independently, I wasn’t sure how fans would react. I wasn’t sure if I would be getting any opportunities without that conglomerate behind me. I was very pleasantly surprised. I was really blown away by the support and all the opportunities that presented themselves. I called last year the year of laying down the groundwork.

This year for me, I hope that when the music comes out, I will start seeing a validation of the hard work and the risk-taking. It’s been a really exciting time, but it’s also been really nerve-wracking. I’m just hoping that this year is full of accomplishments and people loving the music. That’s all I can ask for.

By the time Stages rolled around in 2019, 6 years had passed, and life got in the way. Cassadee split up from her fiancé in 2017 (which inspired a number of songs from Stages), and while the album is about all of the stages in her life that led Cassadee to where she is right now (physical stages and metaphorical stages!), we are presented also with a snapshot of Cassadee’s vulnerability and honesty and a moment in time which is raw and beautiful and compelling- one of the most hopeful and heartbreaking albums at the same time! And as Cassadee relays her ‘stages’ that have influenced her in the article below, let us remember that it is the hard times that shape us, and sometimes the hard times that make us who we are.

  1. The first stage she ever sang on:“Even before I started singing in church, when I was about five years old, I’d sing at the South Florida Fair or Sun Fest in West Palm Beach. My voice coach got me out on stage at a really early age.”
  2. The stage that scared her the most:The Voice. That one freaked me the hell out. And round after round got more and more nerve wracking. It was a whole other beast, every night. The blind audition was the worst. It was horrifying. Because they don’t introduce you, you just walk up to the stage, and you can hear your heels clicking on the floor. You could hear a pin drop. And I wanted to win, but I also want not to trip.”
  3. The stage that is the biggest deal:
    It will be the Ryman stage when I play a full show. I’ve done a song or two for charity events there, but I’ve never been on a bill there, so that will be so special when it happens.”
  4. The first stage she got comfortable on:When my old band Hey Monday did a headlining tour in the UK, we sold it out. They were small club stages, and it was so comfortable for me. Because I was performing to my crowd, and they knew all the words to our songs. That gave me so much confidence to change things up and not be so formulaic.”
  5. The headlining stage she’s prepping for next:“I finish this Maren tour in March, then in April I’ll go out for my headlining tour. I might throw in a cover song, or I might play a song or two from my old band. And I’ll be able to bring Clare Dunn on stage to sing with me, and Hannah Ellis too. Hannah wrote ’If My Heart Had a Heart,’ so I’d love to bring her on stage to sing harmony on that. I want to give them both their own moment.”
  6. The worst stage she’s ever played:It was in Bakersfield, and there were only three people there. Three. It was awful. It was after I’d left Hey Monday but before The Voice, when I’d moved to LA and was trying to make it as an independent artist. I did this acoustic tour of the West Coast. I was in these really small, small clubs. There were six of us in a van. I was getting by, putting food on the table, but after that tour I didn’t have any money left. I was almost ready to go back to West Palm to live with my mom. It was not good.”
  7. The stage she shared with someone she admired:“I’ve done it too many times to narrow it down to just one. And I am so happy I’ve had so many of those moments. Tim McGraw had me come out for his ’Down on the Farm,’ Rascal Flatts invited me to sing Natasha Bedingfield’s part on their song ’Easy,’ and then last year during CMA Fest, I was singing with the Song Suffragettes and we were covering ’Born to Fly,’ and Sara Evans walked on stage to sing that with us.”
  8. The stages she never had a chance to play:“The honky-tonks in Nashville. Before The Voice, I was thinking about moving to Nashville. And I talked to (country songwriter) Liz Rose about it. She told me that if I did, I’d have to be prepared to play the bars on Lower Broadway for about ten years. I didn’t know then if I had that in me.”

Life is full of stages. The stage of childhood, of adulthood, of falling in love, of marrying, of buying your first home, of buying your first car, of having that job promotion, of having your first child. There are many life stages that make you who you are. And as Cassadee relays to us the stages that have led her to where she is right now, I can’t help but marvel at the fact that this could have been a cliché album, but it turned out to be very informative in how we look at our lives, and how we analyse why we feel the things we do and why we do the things we do. Lead single “Take You Home” on the surface is a track that seemingly has no substance, yet a deeper listen reveals a tortured soul that is longing to be loved, and a declaration to a rebound that we want to know them more. It’s a searching, a deeper longing to be accepted and loved by anyone, even if it’s the first person we see after a break-up; whereby second single “One More Red Light” reveals that Cassadee wants to spend more time with her significant other, thus the lengthening of her time with him on her date- and the deliberate action of trying to find more red lights on the way home.

“If My Heart Had A Heart” was probably the first song I’ve heard from Cassadee and speaks about vulnerability and the feelings of hurt and loneliness after a break-up, as Cassadee uses the metaphor of the heart having a heart and comparing it to why she is feeling sad and pain from the break up- because the heart has a mind of its own! While album ender “I’ve Been Good” is where Cassadee puts up a front and tells people that ‘I’ve been good’ even though she hasn’t- a lie of sorts and a coping mechanism, and a realisation that we all put up a mask and a front for others more often than not. “How I Feel Right Now” features Cassadee on the other side of a break up with a new lover proclaiming that she feels as happy as anything (which is in the stage of life of the start of a new relationship!), while Cassadee employs friends Lindsay Ell, Lauren Alaina and RaeLynn on the country/pop 2 minute tune “Distracted”, which again speaks about the stage of a new relationship and how Cassadee is distracted by them and that’s a good thing. “FYI” is a warning of sorts to people in toxic relationships as they navigate people who may not value them as much, where Cassadee gives advice, letting them know that the person they’re with isn’t as faithful as they think, while Cassadee leans on the stage of heartbreak yet again with “Don’t Ask Me”, essentially letting us know that she’s not totally over her ex. And while the vibe of Stages is heartbreak/head-over-heels-love kind of thing, and sometimes we may not relate if we haven’t been in a relationship before; Cassadee nonetheless relays to us a moving and inspiring journey, whereby we are met with a, honest and vulnerable stage of life that is just as valid as any other stage. We may not fully grasp what Cassadee is going through, but that doesn’t make this album any less poignant or impacting or honest or vulnerable.

About “Let Me Go”: It’s a song that’s really about frustration and about how you can come to crossroads with someone that really doesn’t understand you, really doesn’t agree with what you want. It doesn’t coincide with what they want or even coincide with how they picture you. It’s talking about waiting for the other person to decide to let you go because you can’t let go of the hope that maybe things are going to change. And I’m a believer that if you want out and you’re not happy, just get out. Don’t wait for the other person to decide.

About “Hoodie”: It’s a song about taking a trip down memory lane. The boys that I’ve dated through the years have all been those emo boys with hoodies. I distinctly remember finding somebody’s hoodie and being really excited that I had a reason to reach out to them. It’s funny because we’re never discreet. We always think we are, but they know that it’s just a dumb excuse to get in touch. And whether you’re the receiver of that text or call or you’re the sender, you know what’s going on. I was really excited to get this song sounding the way it does, because it’s not that deep, and I wanted the music to replicate the levity of it and also the emo, pop-rock aspect of the time of my life that the song is talking about.

About “California Dreaming”: It’s been one of my favorites for a while, and my mom loves that song. I know it’s probably the most country song on the record, so I really wanted to lean into that, but not too far to where it didn’t work with the other songs. I was thinking about what would take the song up a notch. I definitely thought my boyfriend Sam Palladio’s beautiful blendy harmony voice would be perfect on it. The song’s about someone from my past that really hurt me and broke my heart, and I’m having the man that’s making me happy and that I’m in love with singing harmony on it. He does this harmony at the very end of the song that just gave me chills all over when he sang it. And that’s probably one of my favorite moments of the record, is when he goes into his falsetto voice and it just ends the song in a really sad, tensioned way.

About “Counting on the Weather”: That song, really, for me, is the coziest on the record. I wanted to make people feel like they’re wrapped in a blanket on a couch in front of a fire. The simple things in life are sometimes just the most beautiful, and that’s what the song talks about, just using an excuse like the weather to be with the person you love and just be together. It’s definitely the love song of the record. In this time that we’re in, where we can’t really go many places without feeling a little unsafe, I thought this was timely as well, just to try and find those moments of simplicity that we can lean into and enjoy being home together.

About “Hangover”: This is actually a Hey Monday song. It was on our last EP called Beneath It All. I wrote it with Butch Walker. This is by far the oldest song on the record. When I was thinking about doing this record with the intention of alluding to what I’m going to do full-band-wise later on, which is more pop-rock, I thought, ‘Well, what better way to do that than to put my old band song on here?’ I chose ‘Hangover’ because I always felt like it could be a country song, and it just held up over the years.

About “Rise and Shine”: A message that I really wanted to focus on for this record is mental health. Everybody is dealing with everything going on in the world differently. I’m very open and vocal about feelings and mental health, and I’ve been in therapy for probably three years now and just done a lot of inner work. I want people to feel safe going into a place of feeling whatever emotions they have inside, and I hope that ‘Rise and Shine’ is one of those songs that helps them get into that place of letting it out.

About “Sand Paper”: I remember really wanting to come up with a word that meant changing the shape or smoothing out people’s rough edges or whatever. I was having such a hard time. Nothing sounds good in a song that you try and use in that regard. I mean, you could use, like, a hammer or you could use a chainsaw or whatever. Then I came across sandpaper and it just felt so perfect. At that point, I just felt really like I wasn’t able to show my true colors and embrace the rough edges that I had naturally from my rock background. So I felt like sandpaper was the perfect usage to explain that.

About “Built This House”: In 2017, I just leveled my life, between personal and professional. I eliminated the people in my life that I felt weren’t working in my best interests, and also just got out of a relationship that I just wasn’t happy in and I didn’t feel like myself. That’s what the song talks about, about getting rid of the old one and building a new foundation. When I wrote the song, my boyfriend and I bought a house together. And this house really feels like me and it feels way more comfortable than I’ve ever felt in any other place. It just made me realize this physical house means a lot to me, but I have built a house in my heart and in my soul through that whole experience a few years ago. No matter what tries to shake me or what comes my way and what tries to level this house that I’ve built now, I have such a solid foundation that I’ve been able to tackle obstacles that I wouldn’t have had the strength to do before.

Cassadee’s most recent album is Rise And Shine– an acoustic album which may not be your cup of tea. I’ve mentioned before that Cassadee’s voice isn’t the strongest, but the passion and the heart behind these songs, as evidenced from the behind the songs stories on Apple Music, is I reckon more than enough for you all to take the plunge to start listening to this release- the perfect follow-up to the slightly overproduced Stages. Also, I reckon the fact that it’s just the guitar and Cassadee’s vocals, makes this project more raw and intimate- which is good as we are allowed to see Cassadee’s vulnerability a bit more. For me, the standout songs on this project are “Let Me Go”, the title track, “Counting On the Weather”, “Built This House” and “Sand Paper”; as themes of identity, cherishing the ones you love, having a solid foundation that cannot be broken, and having the strength to get up and weather storms that you might originally think are the worst imaginable; are all present amongst these heartfelt and personal 8 songs. While Cassadee’s boyfriend Sam Palladio (Gunner on Nashville) guests on a song on backing vocals, it’s evident here that musically, these songs aren’t complicated and are actually quite simple to hear. But that’s not really the point, as I personally found that this project on the whole inspiring and encouraging in a lyrical sense- and for that to occur in this time of the pandemic… well that’s nothing short of miraculous.

This year has been really weird, for so many different reasons. Obviously the pandemic has thrust us into isolation and for me, I definitely need human connections to feel normal. So I hope ‘Rise And Shine’ is one of those songs that gives them hope and lets people know, ‘Hey, through the darkest times we can get through it and we can find meaning in those times and really use it to our advantage.’

I came to Nashville right after the show [The Voice]. People embraced me and I felt very welcomed, but I also felt a challenge to prove myself as an artist and not just a winner of a singing competition. There were some obstacles, but it was a really cool process. In the midst of trying to prove myself, I also had people who welcomed me with open arms right away that are still like family to me. I really accumulated such an amazing support system here, right off the bat, in Nashville.

I guess the world is going to determine a lot of what I am able to do. I think that it would be really special to have a coffee house tour where I’m just doing an acoustic tour that’s very intimate…For my next full-band record, I’m going to go more pop-rock. I’m going to stick with my roots of when I started playing in bands and revisit that part of my life. I’ve been doing a lot of Zoom writes where I’m focusing on that and really streamlining the writing process to focus on obtaining that sound. It’s been really fun. It feels like me, and I can’t wait to get in the studio to do that. I hope it’s by the end of this year.

Cassadee Pope has had quite a remarkable career. I won’t delve into her history or her songs with Hey Monday (for that you can read Wikipedia and sit on those tracks for as long and as short as you would like!) however for someone to record pop-punk, then country, then acoustic songs, then a rock album as mentioned by her for her upcoming album… and then to do it all with ease and a seamlessness that artists could only dream about; well that’s nothing short of remarkable. While stand-alone songs like “I Am Invincible” and EP’s like Summer are also impacting and heartfelt, not to mentioned Cassadee’s collaborations with Chris Young (“Think Of You”) as well as The Cab, Yellowcard, All Time Low and I See Stars (Cassadee collaborated with all four groups prior to her stint on The Voice!), it seems like if you haven’t heard of Cassadee’s music by now, and if you haven’t appreciated her songs… well now would be the best time to start. And as Cassadee has also toured the world with artists inclusive of Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, Chris Young and Maren Morris, and has also garnered quite a number of awards and nominations (inclusive of top indie artist of 2018 in the Taste Of Country Fan Choice Awards!); it seems as if popularity may come for Cassadee sooner than we think. Yet even if it doesn’t, let us remember that these songs that we’ve been given are reason enough for us to appreciate her style and appreciate the importance of Cassadee in the music industry, even today. We may not like the style of music from Cassadee. Yet as we continue to listen to one of todays most underrated artists, let us marvel at the determination and the tenacity of Cassadee Pope. She never gives up, and so must we follow her example.

Earlier in this blog I spoke about my feelings of inadequacy at writing ‘perfect’ introductions to blogs. Now I have a new perspective thanks to Cassadee Pope. When did writing become a chore and when did it mean writing more and more and more and more? Does an introduction need to be the end point? A smart introduction- will that be my legacy of these blogs? Or will it be everything else past the introduction? So from now on these blogs will be decidedly and actively different- in the past I may have meandered along a little bit- possibly just for the sake of it. Yet as Cassadee has shown me how to ‘go with the flow’ and surrender the plan over to God, so must I walk in the ways that God has for me, and even though I may not know what it looks like in terms of how I structure my blogs in the future, what better way to trust God than to just type and type and type- and see where He leads. For I want to be the moon that reflects the sun’s brightness, and not the sun itself. I don’t’ want to point to me- I instead want to point to Jesus. Everything I want to do is to make God’s name famous and renown, and as Cassadee reminds me to ‘rise and shine’ above adversity and show the world my resilience and determination- I am encouraged that yet another ‘mainstream artist’ is instrumental in my walk with Jesus. As Cassadee along with Chris Tomlin and Brett Young in “Be The Moon” fervently lay out to us the concept of being a light in the darkness, and striving to be like the moon- which has no light of its own but reflects the sun’s light; we are met with what Christianity should be like- always pointing people back to Jesus and never taking the glory for ourselves, as we act with humility, similar in theme to “Only Jesus” from Casting Crowns. Interesting isn’t it, that Cassadee would inspire me in her songs from her three albums, yet inspire me the most with “Be The Moon” from Chris Tomlin? Anyway… I digress. So well done Cassadee- I can’t wait to hear what you have next! And as for those of you who are sleeping on the artist who has had the pleasure of releasing ‘the first debut single by a country female singer to be certified platinum since Taylor Swift in 2006’… I’ll say this. Wake up! It’s time to be inspired and impacted by country, pop/punk, acoustic, rock and everything else in between!

Does Cassadee Pope make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of the next 5-10 years’ list? Is there any song (other than “Rise And Shine”, “If My Heart Had A Heart”, “I’ve Been Good”, “Wasting All These Tears”, and “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart” that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far, or even your walk with God? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

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