Bayou Country Superfest brings the stars back to Baton Rouge for Memorial Day weekend _lowres

Photo by MEGAN THOMPSON -- Cassadee Pope

Cassadee Pope, the 25-year-old singer from West Palm Beach, Florida, who won season three of “The Voice,” lives in the heart of Nashville. She’s one of country music’s ascending stars.

Last month, Pope made her debut at Stagecoach, the country music festival in Indio, California. She earned great reviews.

“That was incredible, really fun,” she said from Nashville this week.

This weekend, Pope will make her Bayou Country Superfest debut in Tiger Stadium. She’s performing on the same day as her friends Kip Moore, Miranda Lambert and her “The Voice” coach, Blake Shelton.

“It’s a huge festival,” she said. “I’m honored to get to play it. It’s also on the same day as all my friends and some of my favorite artists. I’m excited about playing it and I get to be a fan and just sit back and enjoy the show.”

Pope released her solo debut album, “Frame By Frame,” in 2013. A chart-topping success, it features her million-selling debut single, “Wasting All These Tears.”

Of course, a solid debut album is essential to any artist’s future. “Frame By Frame” is everything Pope wanted it to be.

“I’m really proud of it,” she said. “There was no better way to introduce myself. That album is through-and-through me.”

Pope is working on her second album. She’s co-written about 60 prospective songs for the project.

“We’re at the point where we have to narrow it down to our favorites,” she said. “I don’t want to put anything out halfheartedly. I want everything to be from my core. I feel like I’ve accomplished that in the writing sessions.”

She also hopes the album will give listeners something they didn’t expect from her.

Reporters inevitably ask Pope about her former musical life in a West Palm Beach pop-rock band called Hey Monday. She founded the group when she was 18. Major label Columbia Records released Hey Monday’s album debut, “Hold On Tight,” in 2008. The band’s touring included an opening act spot for Fall Out Boy.

“It was an amazing time,” Pope said. “My first time touring the world and being on a major label. And I grew up in those years.”

But Hey Monday’s music never caught on on the radio in a big way. Invitations to tour stopped.

“Towards the end of it, when it started slowing down, I knew that I needed to make a decision,” Pope said. “I was 21. I still had time and I took a chance.”

Competing on the NBC reality singing competition series “The Voice” became the most challenging and rewarding thing Pope had ever done in music.

“It’s the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life,” she said. “I never experienced choking back tears before I sang on live television. That’s a scary thing. That affected me every night.”

Pope picked Shelton to be her “The Voice” coach. She’d watched the program during previous seasons and been impressed with the way the country music star worked with contestants on his team.

“He didn’t take the reins or make people do songs that they might not necessarily want to do,” she said. “And I am a huge country fan, so I was thinking that it would be fun to work with him.”

Pope picked most of the songs she sang for “The Voice,” including her final selection, Faith Hill’s country hit, “Cry.”

Despite Pope’s four-year, Hey Monday flirtation with pop-rock music, country music was the singer’s first love.

“I grew up singing country,” she said. “That’s actually how I started singing. I learned how to sing Martina McBride and Faith Hill songs. That’s always been in me.”