Cassadee Pope (Photo Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Prominently featured during this season’s blind auditions on The Voice, Cassadee Pope left the more secure confines of a band (Hey Monday) to carve out a solo career.  Pope’s creative leap occurred earlier this year, leading to the May release of a four song EP.

During the blind auditions, Pope had each of the judges turn around thanks to her rendition of Natalie Imbruglia hit “Torn.”  After securing Blake Shelton as a judge, Pope survived the battle rounds (she & Ryan Jirovec sang the Gavin DeGraw heartbreaker “Not Over You”) and now enters the knockout rounds as a clear favorite.  We talked to the talented singer earlier this morning, and she elaborated on why The Voice has been a unique experience.

Outbreak: So my theory is you didn’t pick Blake Shelton because he sees you as a superstar.  I’m sure you’ve seen how he’s coached past singers over the previous two seasons?

Pope: Oh yeah, totally.  You hit it spot on.  I liked the way he coached the past artists and he kind of let them do their own thing. Yeah, I just wanted someone to give me encouragement along the way but just sit back and let me do my thing.

Outbreak: What have you learned from collaborating with Blake Shelton?

Pope: It’s been awesome and he’s the kind of person that makes you feel comfortable right away, like right off the bat.  He’s just so down to earth and funny, and he just says whatever is on his mind.  It makes for a very carefree environment.  I’ve learned (from Blake) to just be yourself and to not apologize for it.  Especially following him on Twitter and seeing how he’s just himself and he’s not sorry for it.  I definitely want to be a role model for people but I don’t want to walk on eggshells about things that I believe in or that I say.  He kind of taught me to not worry so much about it.

Outbreak: Coming from a band, you’re now venturing out as a solo artist, but fans have been able to learn about your entire journey through The Voice.

Pope: I really love tying in my band in this whole thing.  That’s such a huge part of who I am and where I come from – that whole scene.  It’s just really cool to share that story with people because I didn’t know coming on the show if (producers) were going to tell me that I can’t talk about that or that I can’t talk about this.  I’m happy I shared the real story with everyone because I didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh she’s lying, she was on this band and on tour and why isn’t she telling anyone that.’  I’m proud of it and it was a long road and a long journey.  It molded me into who I am now.  It was too big of a part of me to not talk about.

Outbreak: Has working on The Voice helped you as a solo artist?

Pope:  Yeah, definitely.  It kind of thrust me into it, really.  I’ve been solo since January/February and I did a little acoustic tour in January and I released an EP.  I just hadn’t done anything to this extent obviously and it kind of made me get comfortable as a solo artist as fast as possible which I’m very thankful for, because it was very new to me at first.  I didn’t know what to do.  So yeah, it’s been really good.  It’s taught me how to handle it all.

Outbreak: Is there anything you can tell us about the knockout rounds without getting into any trouble?

Pope: (laughs) It’s the last step before the live rounds so it’s really important and it’s going to be good.  I was backstage watching it all go down and I can’t imagine that it’s going to be a boring episode or a boring round.  Seeing the other person perform on stage as you’re sitting there – how nerve wracking is that?  It’s do or die at this point.  There are ten of us and there will be only five left.  It’s a huge, huge cut, so we’ll see what happens.

Cassadee Pope (Photo Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Outbreak: And you were able to pick your own song during the knockout rounds.

Pope: I loved that.  That was really cool.  We’ve had a say in the songs that we did so far.  But yeah I loved being able to think outside the box for a moment and know that you are portraying who you are as an artist.  I picked a song that I thought spoke to me as an artist and I feel like I made the right decision.  But I love the song that I chose and I’m excited for people to hear it.

Outbreak: You have a very fearless, emotional approach to your singing.  Did you develop that style during your years with the band, or is that a skill you’ve had since childhood?

Pope: I think it’s both.  I took voice lessons for many, many years.  Since I was four years old.  My voice coach, she taught me the right way to sing but she also kind of let me figure out stylistically what kind of singer I am.  She wasn’t a super classical voice coach which was great.  And then also through the years touring with the band and playing on stage, it’s a different experience than recording in a studio.  You just can’t help but feel what you’re singing.  If the crowd is into it, it’s so hard not to just get lost into it.

Watching my Blind Audition, it definitely wasn’t my best performance but I was happy with it because I could feel the emotion and I could feel myself smiling and when the coaches turned around I could hear it.  It made me happy.  I felt like I was super in it and in the moment.  I think it’s something I developed over the years, definitely.

Outbreak: As much as I love other singing competition programs, The Voice really excels at nurturing talent.

Pope: Yeah.  I love that about the show.  First of all, I love the fact that they give people like me another chance.  They’re not super strict on just having people there that have never been in the industry before.  I was really thankful for that.  I’ve always watched the other shows and I think they’re all great, but something that I love about this show is that no one is torn down to the point where it feels awkward.  You see that person up there and their dreams are being crushed by this celebrity who goes off and says whatever they want.  It’s so mean.  That doesn’t happen on The Voice. You’re jipping the artist who has gone through all these obstacles and you’re sitting there spewing all these negative comments, or you can just be sitting them and telling them the truth and being critical and giving them advice on how to get better.

This journey is to learn from these coaches and I’ve learned so much so far already.  I think that’s another great thing about the show is that we get a lot out of it.

Outbreak: Curious question.  Are you a vinyl fan, a CD fan, or do you just listen to music on an iPod?  Vinyl fans supposedly love the warmth and grain of the music.

Pope: You know what, it’s funny.  I never really got into it (but) my boyfriend loves vinyl and I’ve grown to really love it and I totally can hear the warmth in it.  Eventually I definitely want to get a record player and get it set up.  Most of the time I just listen to my iPhone in my car when I’m driving.  Or the radio.  It depends.

Outbreak: How important has social media been for you in regards to promoting your work or in just communicating with your fans?

Pope:  It’s so important.  Even before this, with the band…our whole fanbase that’s all they did was tweet and (post on) facebook.  If you didn’t do that, you didn’t have a lot of contact with the fans.  So being with a band on tour it’s easier to keep in touch with the fans and it might not be quite as crucial to do social networking.  But in a situation like this when you’re not touring and you’re not meeting (people) every night you have to be visible.  You to stay relevant or else people will forget about you.

I try so hard to keep everyone happy, to keep the old fans happy and make sure I didn’t forget them.  They’ve been funny, they’ve been like ‘You’re going to forget about us.’  It’s a silly concept, but I try hard to make sure they know that I still love them. I also want the new fans to realize that’s a big part of what I do.  I love going on Twitter and doing Twitter chats and going on Facebook chats.  Stuff like that.  It’s important in this stage of the game to get people engaged into getting to know you further than what they’ve seen on TV.

Outbreak: Can you ever prepare for something as all encompassing as The Voice?

Pope: I think there is only so much you can prepare for.  I knew it was going to be crazy and it was going to be busy, stressful, and unlike anything I’ve ever done before.  But the people on the show – the producers, the crew…they just make it so fun.  They treat us with such respect.  They don’t throw us out there like cattle and send us out to fend for ourselves.  They are so accommodating and have made this experience just fun.  It’s just been a huge learning experience – I’ve never really been involved with TV other than just a few things my band did.  As a solo artist, this is one of the first things I’ve ever done and that’s pretty cool to have that on my resume as one of my first solo endeavors.  Yeah it’s been awesome.

The Voice airs tonight and tomorrow night on NBC (8 pm et/pt).

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posted by Greg Srisavasd (Twitter: @Gsrisavasdi)