Cassadee Pope is your Season 3 'Voice' champ./USA TODAY
by Bill Keveney, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES - Cassadee Pope seemed awestruck when she was named the winner of The Voice Tuesday and the feeling hadn't totally dissipated more than an hour later.
"I'm still caught up in the moment. I still feel like this is just not real. I feel like I'm dreaming, but I am so happy right now," she told USA TODAY.
Pope, 22, who lives in Los Angeles, amassed more viewer votes than fellow finalists Terry McDermott and Nicholas David, who finished second and third, respectively, in The Voice's third season. She said she initially didn't think she would win the NBC hit singing competition, but eventually realized it was a possibility.
"I mean, the closer I got, the more I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this could happen.' But, at the beginning, with all those big voices and all those people, I just felt like I was getting swallowed in the group. The further I got, I felt like I was starting to stand out a little bit, which is great," she said.
Pope, the show's first female winner, feels she's grown over the course of the contest.
"I think vocally I've become a little more confident. At the beginning, I was very timid and I was very intimidated," she said. "I started doing vocal exercises every day and really taking care of myself and my health. I could feel my voice getting stronger. I'm happy I took it seriously like that."
Pope's winning coach, Blake Shelton, said Pope has matured during the show's run.
"She's become comfortable in front of the camera. She's always been a great singer. But more than anything, she's figured something about herself that she's really, really, really good at, which is telling a story in a lyric and having people understand it and react to it in a very special way. And you can't teach that to anybody," he said.
Shelton said Pope is someone special.
"She's a great singer, she's a beautiful girl and she's a good person. You know, there's a lot of those out there in this world that are trying to make it, but Cassadee Pope has this little extra magic that God sprinkled on her that makes us all want to be around her and meet her and see her and talk to her," he said. "If you're a guy, you have a crush on her. If you're a girl, you want to be her best friend. She's just a very special human being and she deserves this win."
Pope, now a solo artist after touring with the band Hey Monday, would pursue a pop-rock sound in an album and says songs such as Behind These Hazel Eyes and Are You Happy Now? give a taste of what listeners could expect. Shelton has promised to perform on it, she said.
"I've always been writing, so I have a lot of material ready to go. It's going to be very uplifting, pop rock, maybe just a little hint of country in there. It's going to be everything you've seen on the show, that '90s, early 2000s feel, with a modern twist to it," she said.
Shelton would like to see Pope do a country album, but he acknowledges she's not a country artist.
Besides winning, singing with Avril Lavigne in Tuesday's finale was the biggest thrill for Pope. "That's something I never expected to happen to me. And it was my last performance on the show. So, I truly feel like the stars aligned in this whole thing."
She sees the show as a springboard for her career. "The Voice has given me this incredible platform that I wouldn't have gotten any other way. On TV, I got triple the amount of fans that I had before. I just have this army now behind me that I'm excited to charge ahead with."