The Eight Stages That Influenced Cassadee Pope

When Cassadee Pope released her second album stages in early February, I wondered what she meant by the title. Was it going to be about all the stages she’d gone through to land here? Or about all the stages she’d performed on throughout her life.

The answer is yes. It’s about everything that led Pope to who she is as an artist now, in 2019. She’s no longer the front girl of a pop punk band, and she’s no longer just a winner of The Voice. She is the artist behind songs that are so worth the nearly six-year wait between albums.

I caught up with Pope before her set on the first night of Maren Morris’ tour on Saturday (March 9), and we talked about all the literal stages she’d graced over the years. Here they are, in semi-chronological order.

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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

(I didn’t asked Pope about the wettest stage she’s ever played, but my guess is, it would be Tucson.)

Pope will be on tour with Morris through the end of March, and then she’ll kick off CMT’s 2019 Next Women of Country Tour with Dunn and Ellis.

April 11: Tampa, Fla. Orpheum
April 12: Orlando, Fla. The Plaza Live
April 18: Atlanta, Ga. at Terminal West
April 19: Charlotte, N.C. at The Underground
April 20: Lexington, Ky. at Manchester Music Hall
April 25: Boston, Mass. at Paradise Lounge
April 26: New York, N.Y. at Gramercy Theatre
April 27: Washington, D.C. at U Street Music Hall
May 2: Evansville, Ind. at K.C.’s Marina Point
May 3: Des Moines, Iowa at Wooly’s
May 4: Columbia, Mo. at Blue Note

Alison makes her living loving country music. She’s based in Chicago, but she’s always leaving her heart in Nashville.