The past couple years have been a crazy train of success for country star Cassadee Pope. The singer song-writer got her start with music at an early age. She became the lead vocalist of pop rock band Hey Monday back in 2008. The band released it’s first studio album, Hold on Tight, along with three EPs before going on a friendly hiatus in 2011. From there, Pope pursued her solo career.

She released her debut solo EP in 2012, following her first ever solo acoustic tour. Her EP was entirely self-written, and had hits like “Original Love,” “Secondhand,” and “Guess We’re Cool.” Later that year, Pope became Blake Shelton’s apprentice on the third season of NBC’s show, The Voice. Pope collaborated with Shelton and co-wrote the song, “Over You.” Inspired by the death of Shelton’s brother and Pope’s late great-grandfather, it’s a powerful song. It kicked PSY’s “Gangnam Style” off the iTunes charts, taking it’s place at No. 1. In addition to being the only woman to make it to the final four on the show, her rendition of Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy” reached No. 1 on iTunes, as well. Pope’s career began skyrocketing after being crowned winner of The Voice. She brought in the New Year performing on Carson Daly’s show and later in Times Square with Train, only to end up touring with Rascal Flatts through the new year.

Pope’s debut, solo single, “Wasting All These Tears” reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, selling 125,000 copies in its first week. CMT decided to join Pope on her journey, releasing the first episode of Cassadee Pope: Frame by Frame at the end of 2013. Her album, Frame by Frame reached No. 9 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Top Country Charts. We sat down with Cassadee to talk about fronting the band Hey Monday, winning The Voice, big dreams and big success.

Pick up a copy of her album Frame by Frame on iTunes now and get to know her below!

What are the advantages of being in a group versus having a solo career?

Being a solo artist has more advantages for me, right now. I’m at a place in my life where I want complete creative freedom and say over what I’m doing. In the band, you’re collaborating with the rest of your band. In my case, it was four other guys. It took a lot of hard work and discipline for us to be on the same page. Now, it’s more about me, which is nice because I take it seriously. If I mess up, at least I know it’s my fault. I hate ever having to put the blame on someone else. It’s nice to know the fate is in my hands, all on my doing.

How did you transition into country music after being the lead singer of Hey Monday?

I actually sang country as a kid, it was the first kind of music I learned to sing. My family always loved it, it’s always been my favorite genre. I do love pop and rock and that’s what Hey Monday really was. But The Voice really opened my eyes to just how much I can incorporate all my favorite genres, country being number one, and still be able to have my career. For a long time that wasn’t possible, when I realized it was possible I got really excited. When The Voice ended I found myself in Nashville. It felt so natural and everyone was so welcoming. I love being a country artist. I grew up singing it and listening to it, so it feels good.

What’s the best advice Blake Shelton gave you on The Voice?

Probably to not wear this one shirt. One time he and I were rehearsing “Steve McQueen” by Sheryl Crow. I was wearing this shirt, it was definitely the most risqué shirt I’d ever worn, very Sheryl Crow country rocker shirt with fringe over the stomach. I got an email from Blake later saying people really look up to you, women look up to you, girls look up to you, I really think that you should think about wearing a different shirt. After the show, meeting fans I found out so many of my fans are a lot younger and women. I want to empower them, not turn them the other way. I’m glad he told me that.

What would you say is the most important thing to make dreams come true?

Definitely not giving up. You have to beat it until you think you’ve been beating a dead horse. Sometimes you think “I got to give up” but those are the times when something crazy happens and a huge opportunity comes, you think “man, I was about to give up” I would have missed out on this opportunity. I know a lot of people who could have done great things but gave up too soon, just keep going until you really can’t anymore. Until that moment comes when you really shouldn’t, you should always go for your dreams.

Being your mentor on The Voice, you look to Blake Shelton for career advice or for help when you find yourself with writers block?

Blake and I have kept in touch since The Voice started and we still keep in touch. He will always text and email if something great happens and congratulate me, I do the same to him, he’s definitely a great mentor. I think he would tell me if I should go in a different direction, because he’s been in it for so long. But, so far I’ve gotten great feedback from him.

Are there any specific life experiences or situations that you draw inspiration from?

When I write, I usually draw from bad relationship experiences in the past. It comes out naturally and fast and abruptly and I’m taken right back to this certain guy who broke my heart and I just have to write about it. I’m so happy and in such a great place in my life and I love writing songs about that. I go more toward the scorned side of things.

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