CMA Visits Seattle with Bailey Bryan, Barry Dean, Cassadee Pope and Walker McGuire

CMA Visits Seattle with Bailey Bryan, Barry Dean, Cassadee Pope and Walker McGuire

The Country Music Association visited Seattle Tuesday, Dec. 4, with songwriters Bailey Bryan, Barry Dean, Cassadee Pope and Walker McGuire. During the trip, Bryan, Dean and Pope met with 150 music students from Seattle Public Schools' Cleveland High School and Rainier Beach High School. As part of the CMA Foundation's Places to Play partnership with U.S. Bank and its Community Possible giving platform, U.S. Bank surprised students with $25,000 worth of musical instruments for both schools' music programs. Tuesday evening, Bryan, Dean, Pope and Walker McGuire performed at a CMA Songwriters Series presented by U.S. Bank at Showbox SoDo.

During a morning songwriting session at Cleveland High School, Bryan, Dean and Pope shared stories about their own journeys as songwriters with music students from both schools. Bryan wrote her first song when she was a toddler called "Pickles in the Forest," which she jokingly sang for the students before saying, "I wrote it in the bathtub as a 4-year-old." Dean shared that he didn't become a professional songwriter until later in life, explaining, "In high school, I wanted to go into music and I didn't. Then when I was in my 30's I decided to try it. It's really fun to be a part of music, but I wish I had done it this whole time and stayed with it and pushed through, so I hope you don't run out of courage and you keep pushing." Pope encouraged the students to be honest with their writing, saying that "the conversational stuff is so relatable and people want to hear that."

The songwriters then answered questions from students, from what music they were currently enjoying to what serves as inspiration for songwriting. When asked what advice they would give to their younger selves, Pope said, "Don't take anything personally," while Bryan said she would tell herself to "be confident in who I was and what I wanted to do." "If I could remember my younger self," joked Dean before sharing, "It's not just talent. The talent is the ticket to get you in the show, but then the work starts after that."

Following the Q&A session, the auditorium erupted in excitement when the curtain was pulled back to reveal the donated percussion instruments. The percussion players from both schools jumped out of their seats and rushed to the stage to get a feel for the new instruments, performing for their fellow music classmates in the audience.

After the visit to Cleveland High School, Bryan, Dean, Pope and Walker McGuire took the stage at Showbox SoDo, performing hit songs they've penned and sharing the stories behind them. Dean hosted the evening and kicked off the night with Tim McGraw's "Diamond Rings and Old Barstools," telling the audience he wished McGraw were there himself to sing the song for them. Pope performed a new song called "If My Heart Had a Heart" from her forthcoming 2019 album, explaining, "This song really spoke to me because it's about how you wish you could turn your heart off and tell it what to think and feel but you just can't." Walker McGuire performed Luke Combs' hit "When It Rains It Pours," written by the duo's Jordan Walker as he joked with the audience that he'd always wanted to write a song about an ex future mother-in-law before sharing, "This song bought me an engagement ring and paid off my student loans, so thank you." Washington state native Bryan performed her just-released single "Songbird," an honest, soul-bearing song that she says helped her "find peace in the middle of uncertainty." The audience was also treated to stellar performances from two high school students. Cleveland High School junior Ina Hong performed her original song "I Could've Gone to Jail Because of You," a song she wrote to vent about a bully in her biology class, while Rainier Beach High School junior Regina Landan performed her original song "Pieces," marking the first time she'd ever performed live for an audience. See below for the full set list.

Barry Dean - "Diamond Rings and Old Barstools"
Cassadee Pope - "I Wish I Could Break Your Heart"
Walker McGuire - "Til Tomorrow"
Bailey Bryan - "Used To"
Barry Dean - "Day Drinkin'" (recorded by Little Big Town)
Cassadee Pope - "Take You Home"
Walker McGuire - "18 Forever"
Bailey Bryan - "Watered Down"
Barry Dean - "Suitcase" (recorded by Steve Moakler)
Ina Hong, Cleveland High School Junior - "I Could've Gone to Jail Because of You"
Cassadee Pope - "If My Heart Had a Heart"
Walker McGuire - "Ol' What's Her Name"
Bailey Bryan - "Perspective"
Barry Dean - "God's Will" (recorded by Martina McBride)
Regina Landon, Rainier Beach High School Junior - "Pieces"
Cassadee Pope - "One More Red Light"
Walker McGuire - "When It Rains It Pours" (recorded by Luke Combs)
Bailey Bryan - "Own It"
Barry Dean - "Pontoon" (recorded by Little Big Town)
Cassadee Pope - "Wasting Away These Tears"
Walker McGuire - "Growin' Up"
Bailey Bryan - "Songbird"

Photo credit: Sunny Martini/CMA

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