How Chris Young and Cassadee Pope's Friendship Survived the 'Worst Thing That Can Happen' on Stage

She "was just mortified," he says. "The look on her face was real funny"

Photo: Nancy Kruh

Chris Young and Cassadee Pope may sing about breaking up in “Think of You,” but their chart-topper has definitely turned them into best buddies. How great is this friendship? It’s even survived a duet partner’s worst nightmare: the time when Pope didn’t quite make it on stage to sing the song.

Pope, 26, told the story herself – and apologized again – at the duo’s No. 1 party on Tuesday in Nashville.

“I promise always to make it on stage for my verse,” Pope sheepishly vowed to Young and the hundreds gathered to celebrate the song in the Country Music Hall of Fame rotunda. “Sorry about that one time. Let me reiterate – one time that I didn’t make it on stage, one time.”

After her public remarks, Pope filled in the details of the debacle, which occurred in Cleveland back in January while on tour with Young. After her opening set, she said, “I thought, you know what? I’m going to run to the bus, have a bite to eat, and then go back and sing with him, because I thought I had plenty of time. But I totally lost track of time.”

Meanwhile, Young, 31, was on stage starting their song and waiting for Pope to pop out from the wings. When she didn’t, he recalls, “I literally blanked for a second because, I mean, she’s not there.”

When she finally did emerge – after Young had soldiered on and sung the Pope part – she “was just mortified,” Young says. “The look on her face was real funny.”

“I was, like, this is the worst thing that can happen,” Pope says. “I was just so, so sad about it.” But, she adds, she can laugh about it now because Young was “totally cool about it. He thought it was funny. He’s a funny guy and luckily has a sense of humor … He really is the brother I never had.”

Don’t miss a beat of country music news, photos and videos! Click here to get all this and more in the PEOPLE Country Newsletter.

The two had only met when Young picked her to record the song that he, Josh Hoge and Corey Crowder co-wrote specifically as a duet. Young first heard Pope live at a songwriters’ event in Miami in 2014 that they both participated in. Afterward, he called Crowder and said, “I got the duet partner,” Crowder recalls.

The Voice champ reveals she agreed to the duet before she’d even heard the song. Once she did, she was bowled over. “I thought, holy crap, the girl gets time to sing,” Pope says. “She gets a verse. She’s not just singing harmony! This is an actual duet!”

Crowder, who co-produced the album with Young, recalls the magic the two created at their single recording session. “I was really worried … that their vocals wouldn’t sound good together, and that we’d have to do a lot of [sound balancing] that would rob them of tone,” he says. “Their voices actually sound naturally great together.”

Fans obviously have agreed, making it Young’s eighth No. 1 single and Pope’s first. Clamors are now growing for more recording partnerships from the two solo artists, and both say they’re up for it.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that I love singing alongside her, and there will be something in the future, for sure,” Young says. “I don’t think this is a one-off.”

“Eventually it would be great to do something like an EP where we could write everything and do the whole process together,” Pope says. “That would be so fun.”

In the meantime, Young is hard at work on a Christmas album, and Pope is recording an album to follow her recent EP release, Summer. Young’s “I’m Comin’ Over” tour has been extended to the end of the year with Pope as his guest for all 25 dates; Dan + Shay and Dustin Lynch also will be trading off as openers.

Related Articles