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Leaving Austin Enlists Cassadee Pope for New Song ‘American Avenue’

Leaving Austin asked Cassadee to join the song during a Christmas party!

Leaving Austin Enlists Cassadee Pope for New Song ‘American Avenue’
Leaving Austin and Cassadee Pope; Photo credit: Steven Darling

Sometimes the best way to make a great song even better is to invite a friend to sing it with you. That’s just what Leaving Austin does on “American Avenue,” which features Cassadee Pope adding her signature vocals to the earthy anthem.

“Cassadee’s voice is incredible,” the band’s Austin Machado tells Sounds Like Nashville. “When we went to record it and she started singing, she did all that very quickly with no problem. Our jaws dropped. We were like, ‘Okay you ARE that good.’”

Machado and fellow Leaving Austin members Davis Forney and Michael Stevens wrote the song with Parker Welling and Jordan Sapp. “When we wrote the song, we asked Parker to sing part of the demo and she’s got a great voice,” Forney says. “We just wanted to hear her on the demo and once it started we were like, ‘Wow, this song should have a feature! It just feels right.’”

They began thinking about who they’d like to join them on the song and really wanted to ask Pope. They got their chance at a holiday party. “We happened to run into Cassadee at our BMG Christmas party,” Forney says. “We had toured with her a little bit and had thought of asking her. We had a couple drinks at the Christmas party because it was an open bar and we were like, ‘Screw it! Let’s just ask her if she would want to do it.’ Austin went up to her and we were kind of just chatting. He brought the song up and she was like, ‘Oh I’d love to hear it.’ We sent it to her and she fell in love with it.”

Pope was indeed impressed with the song and happy to be part of it. “As soon as I heard ‘American Avenue’ I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” says Pope. “I’m a sucker for a catchy melody and this song is oozing with them. I also love what they did with the lyrics in the chorus, cleverly piecing in ‘red, white and blue’ to paint the picture of the American flag. I thought that being in the video would help tell the story of the song so when they asked if I’d be interested, I of course said yes! It was fun getting to know the guys more in the process.”

Leaving Austin; Photo credit: Steven Darling

The trio, which has amassed over 10 million streams, moved from California to Nashville earlier this year, but found inspiration for the new song from the band’s early days rehearsing on Machado’s family’s barn on their raisin farm in Selma, California. “It’s the raisin capital of the world,” Machado says proudly of the area that produces 90% of the raisins in the U.S. “I had a red truck and when I would drive from my mom’s in Clovis to my dad’s, I would take American Avenue. I’ve known Davis for a long time and he would go with me. The band would rehearse out there and he had written down ‘American Avenue’ in his phone as a title. When we were writing with Parker and Jordan that day, he brought that up and the rest was history. It sparked it and we wrote that pretty quickly.”

Pope feels like it will strike a chord with fans. “There’s something so laid back and ‘feel good’ about this song,” says Pope. “I couldn’t help but move to it when I first heard it and I think that’s what you really want in a song. I also think a nostalgic love story lyric is always relatable.”

They recorded the song several months ago before the pandemic, but the video was shot more recently. “Our manager owns some property with a cabin and a barn on it out in Franklin, TN more towards Leiper’s Fork a little bit,” Stevens says. “We shot it out at his little barn area out there with Cassadee and some friends and it came out great. We’re really excited.”

The trio has nothing but praise for Pope—both her talent and who she is as a person. “We’ve been fans of hers for a long time, since even the Hey Monday days,” Machado says of the pop punk band she performed with early in her career. “She is the sweetest person, so when everything happened, it was so easy. It hasn’t been difficult. She’s been the easiest person we could have worked with and she’s super kind. It feels really good to have someone like that on the song.”