For children who want to be performers when they are older, it is common to sit and dream the day away, hoping that one day they will play for large crowds. It is typical to sit in an audience and envision themselves on that stage, showcasing their talents for everybody to see. However, the painstaking rule is that the dream often never becomes a reality. West Palm Beach native, Cassadee Pope, is the exception to that rule. As a child, Cassadee attended the South Florida Fair and watched her predecessors perform, hopeful, but never expectant, that she, too, would grace that stage one day. Last night, one of Cassadee’s childhood dreams came to fruition as she stood on that very stage, looking out, rather than looking in.
Cassadee, an artist who should not be pigeonholed into one specific genre of music, is a crossover hit in the flesh who needn’t be defined. What sets Cassadee apart from the rest is that her ability to float seamlessly throughout genres doesn’t impinge upon her audience’s ability to know exactly who she is … and that is a kind-hearted, gracious, talented singer/songwriter with a strong head on her shoulders and the world at her fingertips.
During her hometown show, Cassadee successfully covered all of her bases, ensuring that no one left disappointed or longing for their favorite song off her debut solo album, Frame By Frame. Cassadee entered the stage to a packed house as she began her set with “Proved You Wrong,” a song of empowerment and independence. The love, pride, and excitement emanating from Cassadee’s family, friends, and fans alike was insurmountable from the moment the first words, “cold as ice,” came through the speakers. Cassadee continued her set with “Cinematic,” a song that lends credence to her country and rock roots and is available on the deluxe version of her album.
Before slowing it down a bit, Cassadee, in a most endearing and sincere way, informed the crowd how excited she was to be at the South Florida Fair and admitted that she was nervous that nobody would actually show up for her. With all due respect, Cassadee could not have been more mistaken. The venue was filled, the energy was rampant, and the happiness radiating from the stage was contagious, even to those in the last row of the venue.
The set then continued with “Champagne,” “Easier to Lie” (my personal favorite off Frame By Frame), and “11.” Worth noting is that “11″ is a song Cassadee penned about her family, and she dedicated this particular song to them as they sat in the audience. Cassadee explained that her family feels the impact of the song more each time they hear it, and you could witness from your seat that Cassadee’s own feelings she poured into the creation of the song have not been lost over time. Sharing that song with the family was incredibly special, as it felt like the room closed in for a short amount of time and a private moment was being shared by those fortunate enough to be present.
In a quick effort to shift the mood after that personal and emotional performance, Cassadee introduced her first solo single, “Wasting All These Tears,” which she deemed “monumental” to her career. Upon the first notes of the song being played by the band, the room expanded again and the energy picked up right where it left off as the entire audience sang along to this Top 10 Country Radio Airplay hit song. Before ending the song that is a current staple in country music, Cassadee briefly went into an acoustic line of “I wish I could erase all memory,” which was a creative way to differentiate between the recorded version of this song and a live performance.
Following her hit song, Cassadee performed “Everybody Sings,” a “party song” during which she danced around the stage, clearly having the time of her life. And Cassadee was certainly not alone, as her fans slowly, but surely, began creeping their way toward the front of the stage in droves, eventually surrounding her with signs, simple thumbs ups and waves, and cameras. And no sign went unnoticed, no thumbs up or wave went un-returned, and if Cassadee saw the camera, she was looking right into it. Every audience member who made an effort to be noticed was handed the opportunity by the appreciative singer, who commands and deserves respect.
Also of particular notability was Cassadee paying homage to one of her biggest influences, Shania Twain. Cassadee performed the crossover hit, “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” and did so in a way that changed my mind about this song that I have been not-so-impressed with since its 1998 release. Cassadee strode about the stage, triumphantly mixing adorable dance moves and personality with a distinct sassiness, while never compromising her “lovability.” In true “making it her own” fashion, Cassadee refused to say that Brad Pitt doesn’t impress her and, instead, practically squealed out “I think you’re hot!” which caused the audience to erupt into laughter.
Cassadee rounded out her set with additional tracks off Frame By Frame: “One Song Away,” “This Car,” and “You Hear a Song.” Of course, it wouldn’t be a Cassadee Pope set without ending on electrifying songs in order to ensure that the audience leaves happy and fulfilled. Cassadee urged the crowd to take its feet for “Good Times,” prompting the audience to “SCREAM!” as she made dancing across a huge stage while singing look like child’s play. Before segueing into her final song of the night (which we predict will likely be her sophomore single off her album), Cassadee expressed her gratitude to the audience once more, saying “you mean everything to me! Thank you for raising me and teaching me life’s lessons. And thank you for voting for me!” As Cassadee belted out “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart,” her fans danced and sang, devouring every note, knowing that the song was the last.
Cassadee Pope, though dubbed a “new artist” by the industry, is anything but. Besides her phenomenal vocals, Cassadee has a natural stage presence and ease about her while performing, which places her at the top with seasoned veterans in country music. As Cassadee continuously expressed her excitement to be performing on a stage at home, she also solidified the fact that any stage she performs on is her home.
Cassadee will be performing this Sunday, January 26, 2014, to a sold out crowd at South Florida’s Annual Chili Cookoff. Members of Cassadee’s Team Blake family, The Swon Brothers, will be performing on the same South Florida Fair stage on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, and tickets are still available now by clicking here.
Photos by Sara Kauss / www.sarakaussmusicians.com