In Music

Cassadee Pope won season three of NBC's "The Voice" in 2012.

A chat with "The Voice" season three winner Cassadee Pope

"American Idol" may be on its way out, but NBC's rival singing competition "The Voice" keeps getting more and more popular. Country music star Cassadee Pope is one of the select few – five to be exact – to come away as a winner, charming viewers and taking the title back in 2012.

Now, Pope is coming to Milwaukee with two appearances scheduled. The first is this afternoon at the 48th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, which starts at noon on Wisconsin Avenue at Old World 3rd Street and will wind its way through downtown. The other is a post-game concert after the Milwaukee Admirals game, which starts tonight at 7 p.m. at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Before she takes the stage(s), OnMilwaukee got a chance to talk to the singer about her experience on "The Voice" and a Milwaukee venue she calls one of her favorites. When did you start getting into music?

Cassadee Pope: I actually started taking voice lessons when I was 4 years old. I grew up singing and listening to country music, and because of my age, I grew up listening to this generation of Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Martina McBride. Those were the people I looked up to. I would cover their songs and sing their songs into my hairbrush in my room.

My voice coach would put on little recitals where she would have all of her students perform. So that's where I got all of my performing experience, when I was a very young child. I'd be going in front of hundreds of people and just singing. It was really scary at first, but once I got the hang of it, it was addicting, and I couldn't stop. So that's really where it all began.

OMC: Have you ever been to Milwaukee before?

CP: I have! I've actually played The Rave a number of times with my old band (Hey Monday). It was always one of my favorite venues because it always kind of had that haunted history behind it. I've never actually taken the tour underneath it through the tunnels, but I've seen the empty pool. It's pretty creepy, but it's fun because sometimes a lot of the venues start to look the same, and that one has its own character.

OMC: So when did you decide that you wanted to try out and go for "The Voice"?

CP: I actually wasn't thinking about doing a show like that ever. I was in Hey Monday, and we kind of hit this ceiling. We weren't really growing or gaining any more fans, so I decided at about 20 years old that I was going to leave my band, move to Los Angeles and pursue a solo career.

So I uprooted my life and drove across the country to California. But the solo thing was just not working out. Nobody seemed to understand my music; I don't think, at the time, I even understood it. I was just kind of desperate to release some music.

Then "The Voice" came along. I had somebody call me and ask me if I wanted to audition. I thought, "Well, if I'm going to do any of those shows, I'm doing 'The Voice.'" I'd seen it before, and I really respect it. So I'm really glad that I set my pride that kind of kept me from a lot of things in the past and went for it.

OMC: What was that experience like?

CP: It was definitely the biggest learning experience of my life. I was in it. I got to make mistakes and learn from them myself. The thing I love about that show is that everybody behind the scenes just wants you to do well. They look out for you, and they want you to be prepared when you get on that stage. There were always nerves. I was always very scared to go on that stage, but I never felt unprepared. I think the show does that really well.

OMC: What was the biggest lesson you learned while you were on "The Voice"?

CP: Probably to go with my gut. There were a few times where I thought maybe I should change it up a bit and do something outside of my comfort zone when really, I think that's what got me the title: just doing what I felt comfort with. People saw me being comfortable, and that's hopefully what made them enjoy what I was doing. You always second guess yourself in those kinds of situations, especially when you're being judged by America. So I'm just glad that I stuck with my gut and did what my heart was telling me to do.

OMC: What's your favorite story from behind the scenes of the show?

CP: I really enjoyed sitting in the hair and makeup chair, and connecting with the women and men – two of them to be exact. They're just awesome people, and they have so many incredible stories. Their specialty is having us sit there and making us feel calm. I never sat in the hair and makeup chair on "The Voice" and thought, "Man, these people are making me even more nervous."

I think at some point, they must have a talk to the producers or something because they just know how to talk you down and make you forget why you're getting your hair and makeup done. They take you away to a normal place and make you feel like a normal person again.

OMC: Do you ever get worried that people are going to judge you as a musician for coming from a reality TV show?

CP: I don't really fear it; I've definitely seen it first hand. I just try to continually improve myself. I can't really worry about people's judgments that are completely unfounded. I've been working hard at music since I was four years old. I'm only 24, but a lot has happened in just those years. I've been through the trenches. I've been rejected. I've had some success and had it taken away from me. So even though I come from a reality show, a lot happened before that.

I'm just continuing to tell my story, and hopefully people understand me a little bit better.


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