Cassadee Pope on Reshaping Career for 'Stages,' Opens Up About 'The Voice'

Starting anew can signify different things to many, but it can make or break the career of a promising musician. That's a risk country singer Cassadee Pope was willing to take as she geared up to put out her sophomore effort, Stages, as an independent artist—leaving her former label, BMLG records in 2017.

The 29-year-old singer led rock band Hey Monday before becoming a rising talent in country music. In embarking on a solo career, she auditioned for Season 3 of The Voice in 2012, which she won while under Blake Shelton's guidance. Her debut album, Frame by Frame, came the following year. Two years later, she earned her first Grammy nod in 2015 for her "Think of You" duet with Chris Young. However, it's now 2019 and fans haven't heard a full record from in over five years.

Pope's appropriately titled Stages is representative of the next phase in her career, as she's headlining her first tour in three years and creating music that's more personal. As Stages bows Friday, Pope wants fans to understand what she's been up to and get to know her better.

"There were a few things there that weren't working very well," Pope told Newsweek of leaving her label. "It's hard coming off of a singing competition show. You're kind of at the mercy of the team that you are with and thankfully, it went really well, at first. And then, I just started to grow and evolve."

"I uprooted everything and moved to Nashville and, you know—that was an adjustment to kind of get in with the community. Thankfully, they've welcomed me. There was just a lot of self-discovery moments and 'Oh, actually, you wanna go this route, musically,'" she said.

Stages was a word that took on several meanings for Pope, including headlining the "CMT Next Women of Country Tour" and supporting fellow country songstress Maren Morris on the first half of her "Girl: The World Tour." It also represents the many stages she's experienced in the last few years, which she considers to be a "transformative time" she wanted to pen songs for.

She suffered a breakup and it inspired her to write six songs. From there, she decided to wrap the story she unraveled over multiple songs. Pope said it was a "last minute thing" to record Stages, but she decided to finish the project because she knew "there was a story" worth telling. Unlike her first record, she played a part in all aspects of developing Stages.

"I wanted to create an album that almost felt like a set list, when you go see an artist onstage, that flowed well and gave you a break from the up-tempo or the happy songs when you were getting sick of those. And you can go into a darker place and then hooks it back up," she explained. "I didn't mean for it to turn out this way, but it just happened. I was just making the record as everything was changing, so I just felt like I was experiencing something really special and wanted the fans to hear about it."

Stages still features Pope's signature sound, but there is a growth and maturity present in the 11-track record's lyrics. It explores different moments in her life from love to heartbreak, and beyond. "If My Heart Had A Heart," the album's third single, showcases Pope's vocals at its best as it tells the story of a heartbroken woman who still has feelings for her ex. One of her favorite songs from the record is "How I Feel Right Now," which she wrote in the early stages of her relationship with Nashville alum Sam Palladio.

"I look at so many success stories where people have taken risks and really put themselves and their careers on the line, and it succeeded. They got to do what they wanted to do and it worked," she said. "So I'm just like, 'Uh, that could be me too and let's see if it works.'"

Pope will appear on Maren Morris's "Girl: The World Tour" from March 9 to March 29 and headline the "CMT Next Women of Country Tour" from April 11 to May 4.

Cassadee Pope on 'Stages,' 'The Voice'
Country singer Cassadee Pope opened up to Newsweek about her second album, 'Stages,' out February 1, 2019. Here, Pope is pictured in a promotional still for 'Stages.' Jeff Nelson