Who Wants to Be a Country Singer?

The first female winner of The Voice comes to Canada.

Most reality-television show hopefuls spend hours waiting in lines, struggling through multiple interviews and acting over-the-top to try and establish themselves as unique. And even then, very few make it. But Cassadee Pope, winner of season three of the popular reality show, The Voice, was asked to audition for the show. Not once, but twice.

The first time the casting company called, Pope turned down an audition spot for season two because she feared that going on the show was taking “the easy way out.” Then, while Pope, a former member of the Florida rock band, Hey Monday, was pursuing a solo career in Los Angeles, the show’s casting company called again and asked her to come in for an audition for season three. She did, and not only did she earn a spot on the show, the American songstress became the first female winner in the show’s history. This month, she’ll become the first winner of The Voice to tour Canada.

While all four judges on the show courted Pope, the freckle-faced redhead picked country singer Blake Shelton as her mentor. Pope thought it was a good match because she was ready to return to country music. Under Shelton’s mentorship, Pope learned to accept criticism from the judges. “Blake’s awesome. I’m lucky he was my coach,” says Pope. “He texted me [in October] saying that he is very proud of me for having a number-one album.”

Pope, now 24, began taking singing lessons when she was only four years old. “I sang in chorus all through school. In my teenage years, I started playing in rock bands,” she says. Pope was 18 when Hey Monday formed and she stayed in the band for three and a half years before it went on hiatus in 2011. “We shot up the scene pretty quickly and I think that came with a price. We didn’t really establish ourselves,” says Pope. “At a certain point, we didn’t have a label and we didn’t have any tours lined up. I decided to leave and move to L.A.” 

Fortunately, the move proved to be fruitful, resulting in not only the show but an album and multiple tours – she recently opened for Rascal Flatts. But it didn’t come without some hard work along the way. Being on The Voice was “a roller-coaster ride,” she says. “You’re excited to be there. You’re an emotional wreck. The most challenging moment was the very beginning of the live shows, when I started getting more criticism from the coaches. I knew I was going to get criticism but I don’t think I mentally prepared myself for it. It hits way harder than you think, especially when you are stressed out. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

The singer, who describes her sound as an “edgier Taylor Swift mixed with Hunter Hayes, Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson” released her debut solo album, Frame by Frame, in October. The album features several songs that Pope co-wrote. “I get a lot of inspiration from things that I’ve gone through personally. I definitely like to tell stories and I’m willing to think outside the box and put myself in other peoples shoes, but most of the time I’m writing about things that I’ve gone through,” she says.

Pope opens for Dean Brody at the Shaw Conference Centre on February 19.

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