Cassadee Pope rose to fame by winning Season 3 of The Voice in 2012, on Team Blake, and she hasn't slowed down since then. The 28-year-old released Frame by Frame on Big Machine Label Group in 2013, followed by the EP Summer, three years later.
Pope also sang on the Grammy-nominated duet, "Think of You" with Chris Young, and spent all of 2016 opening for Young on his I'm Comin' Over World Tour. In between dates, which included her own shows as well, Pope kept working on music, ultimately realizing she wanted to make music on her terms, without the restrictions of a record company. The singer-songwriter courageously left BMLG, one of the biggest labels in the country, and the place she had called home for most of her career, for a chance to make the music she always wanted to make.
It was necessary at the time, and I still feel good about the decision," Pope tells PopCulture.com of her decision to leave. "They're awesome, and they've helped me achieve so many things. I'm so proud of what we've done together. But, we just kind of hit this point where we weren't really getting each other, and I started having a hard time being creative. I felt a little blocked, creatively, so I knew that I needed a purge, basically.
"I'm super happy now," she continues. "It's awesome running into them, being cordial. They wish me the best. I got a bunch of texts when ["Take You Home"] came out, which meant a lot, so no hard feelings. It just wasn't working out."
Releasing music, including her current single, "One More Red Light," is a much bigger decision now that Pope is calling all the shots, but the benefits for her far outweigh the risks.
"I think I'm just so ready to be transparent," Pope admits. "Before I felt like I was myself, but it was a little bit of a watered-down version, because there were so many people overseeing. And now that there's not, there's nobody to be like, 'You probably shouldn't say that,' or 'Maybe you shouldn't sing that.' 'Maybe you should dress like this.' I am literally, what you see is what you get. There's no filter, which is risky and is scary, but with great risks comes great rewards. I'm trying to just do it the most authentic way possible, and see what happens."
Pope does have the advantage of being friends with one of the biggest stars in country music, her former coach on The Voice, who she knows will always help her if she needs it.
"It's hard. He's so busy," says Pope. "He's Blake Shelton. He checks in every once in a while. I see him at some events and awards shows. We don't get to grab a coffee or anything like that, but he's super supportive."
Pope just wrapped her run as an opening act on the the final Warped Tour, featuring mostly punk and rock acts, and is currently putting the finishing touches on her next album. Still, if she would get a free day, Pope, who grew up in both Florida and Pennsylvania, knows exactly how she'd like to spend her time.
"I would either love to be on the beach in Captiva, my favorite place in Florida," Pope reveals. "I didn't grow up there, but I went there a lot as a kid. It's very remote. The sun sets right into the ocean. It's beautiful ... or Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. It's western Pennsylvania. It's where my mom's side of the family are from. There's this house there, that's been in my family since my great-grandparents were born. It's still in the family, and I get to go whenever I want, and grill out and ride the four-wheeler, and skip rocks on the creek."
Pope got her start early, performing as a child, giving her plenty of experience to draw from. But if there's one thing she could go back and tell herself, it would be to trust herself more.
"I just remember questioning my gut, so much, through the years," Pope confesses. "When you start off singing at a young age, it's good because you're perfecting your craft and you're getting better. But it's also not good, because you're hiring people to be on your team. I had a manager, two managers when I was at the age of 12. That's a very impressionable stage in your life.
"I'm glad I did what they said because I ended up here, but there's moments in my head when I'm like, 'I really shouldn't have done that,' or 'I should have done what I wanted,' or 'I should have spoken up,'" she adds. "But again, I feel like everything happens for a reason, so if I didn't go through those times where I maybe made the wrong decisions, I wouldn't be here."
Download "Take You Home" on iTunes.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Erika Goldring