The Associated Press reports that Season 3 Voice winner Cassadee Pope has been signed to Republic Nashville, making her labelmates with The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Florida-Georgia Line, and fellow Voice alum Raelynn. That’s right, she’s on a country label. The AP also reports:
She is now managed by Irving Azoff in one of his first post-Live Nation endeavors.
A spokesman says Pope is writing songs for the new album and is meeting with producers in Nashville.
UPDATE: The press release is out, featuring quotes from Cassadee and Big Machine Label Group head Scott Borchetta::
“I am so excited to be joining the very talented Republic Nashville family. I am so passionate about my music and I couldn’t be more excited to have this amazing team to back me as I embark on this next chapter in my career,” said Pope.
“Cassadee was a standout from day one and once she delivered her incredible version of Miranda Lambert’s “Over You,” I started working over my NY label partner Monte Lipman (CEO of Republic Records) to try to convince him that Cassadee belonged in Nashville,” said Big Machine Label Group President Scott Borchetta. “Each week Cassadee continued to knock down big Country songs by Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and Faith Hill, and after she won we were THRILLED to find out that Cassadee was on the same page with us and wanted to come to Nashville. The BMLG Team is over the top excited about Cassadee Pope!”
So is Cassadee Pope really going country? A bunch of headlines teased that development right after her Voice win but her comments revealed her intention to work from a pop/rock base. For instance, she told Lyndsey Parker of Yahoo! that “pop/rock is where [her] heart is.” She also told ClevverMusic
I think I’m going to stick with pop/rock and maybe have some country elements in there. I mean honestly, pop/rock and country go hand in hand now.
Cassadee elaborated in an in depth interview with Entertainment Weekly:
On the show, I was pushed to try something different. Doing “Over You” was actually my idea — I wanted to make it a little more my style, not so country. But then people were like, “You did a country song, I loved when you did a country song.” My plan kind of backfired, but in a really good way. So that’s when I really started thinking, “Well, maybe I could do both right off the bat.” The sound I love, the pop rock sound like Michelle Branch and Avril Lavigne — that could be on country radio now.
EW: Yeah, it seems like the female singer-songwriters of the early ’00s have paved the way for Taylor Swift.
CP: Yeah, exactly. Taylor Swift is something I’m really scared to compare myself to, but it’s true. I want to do an edgier, less country — well, I’m talking about her past, not now. She’s like, dubstep now. [Laughs] But, you know, an edgier Taylor Swift — not as country, with more mature lyrics and more challenging vocals and melodies.
Cassadee also told People:
“I would love to do the pop/rock thing, but I know that I gained some amazing country fans and I know how hard it is to get into that world,” the Florida native said. “I’d love to add a country music element to it a bit.”
Cassadee is smart to realize the difficulties of getting into the country world considering Universal Music Group Nashville CEO Mike Dungan has described being a new woman in country music as “a path that is maybe the most difficult on the planet” because “[t]he gatekeepers at radio have a mindset that females are tough, so they put themselves into this space where they’ll only really truly consider one at a time, maybe two at a time.” There’s a group of new female country acts starting to make an impression at country radio, including Jana Kramer and Kacey Musgraves, with several more who have industry buzz behind them, including Kristen Kelly and Kelleigh Bannen, not to mention the likes of Lauren Alaina who has a t30 hit and a t40 hit under her belt. All these ladies have been putting in serious miles and effort in to conquer country radio and all of them have undeniable country bonafides, which would put Cassadee behind them in line if the plan really is to market her primarily to the country format. There is also a growing female presence as lead vocalists of groups, most prominently in the surging Little Big Town and The Band Perry and superstar act Lady Antebellum but also in emerging groups like The Henningsens.
On the other hand, it’s not like Voice alums have gotten much radio support from Republic-affiliated labels in the past (and there has been no movement on Raelynn’s single “Boyfriend” since she performed it on The Voice), so if this is just about connecting Cassadee to Nashville musicmakers then that may explain Cassadee landing with Republic Nashville.
In fact, Cassadee Pope was busy before The Voice writing with prominent Nashville names. Her collaborators range from Taylor Swift’s most frequent cowriter Liz Rose to hit pop writers like Mike Krompass and Josh Crosby. Check out tunes from an EP she released in May 2012. The first one, “Secondhand Love” gives a strong pre-Red Taylor Swift vibe in that it’s a pop song that’s compatible with banjo and mandolin being inserted to make it “country.”
Secondhand Love (Cassadee Pope/Liz Rose/Emily Shackelton)
“I Guess We’re Cool” (Busbee/JT Harding/Cassadee Pope)
“Told You So (Christopher Scott Brown/Joshua Crosby/Cassadee Pope)
“Original Love” (Andrew Dixon/Jason Gaviati/Cassadee Pope)
What do you make of Cassadee Pope’s prospects as a recording artist?