For most toddlers the primary focus of each day is playing with friends, honing their ABCs, counting skills and snack time. In other words, choosing a career is usually not one of their top priorities, but for Cassidy Lynn ’08 she knew what she wanted to do right away. “From the age of four, I told my parents I wanted to be a singer,” she said. From that point on she would play whatever records her mom and dad had on hand and sing, while also performing with the Syracuse Children’s Theatre and Choir. Her father was in the radio business so he had a lot of equipment for her to play with, which included a big karaoke machine where she would sing along with songs ranging from John Denver to Patsy Cline.
Lynn attended school in the East Syracuse-Minoa School District and when she reached the age of 12, her uncle and mom started to take her around to county fairs and other summer gatherings to perform. “My uncle invested in a sound system to help me get out and perform publicly. I would sing a variety of songs that were popular then and when the song was over I would talk to the audience while my mom would load in the next karaoke CD for me to sing along to,” she said between laughs. It was during this time where Lynn’s love for country music would develop due, in large part, to watching the Grand Ole Opry with her grandfather.
Four years later, she landed herself in a popular local band called the Seven Bridges Band who were also lovers of classic country music. When reflecting on her first professional foray into the world of music, Lynn learned there was much more to it than just performing. “It like was Music Business 101. As a 16 year old girl, I had to prove myself to the guys in the band night after night, not to mention the crowds,” she said, “but the experience gave me the knowledge and appreciation for all that went into performing.” Just before Lynn joined the band, they had lost their lead singer and she would seize the opportunity, which was her first big break into building a fan base. “When we first started together, we had to transition from a male lead singer to a female lead singer, which was a complete change of pace for the players,” Lynn said, “but once we made the transition we came out on the other end stronger than ever and we had the lines out the door to prove it.”
She would remain the lead singer of the Seven Bridges Band up until she graduated from high school in 2006. Her original plan was always to move to Nashville at that time, but with a growing local fan base that she felt she could carry with her to Tennessee, she decided to stick close to home a bit longer. Staying close to home proved to be a good formula for Lynn as she enrolled at Oneonta and started a new band called Skyline, which included a couple members from Seven Bridges. “All during my time at Oneonta I would be doing shows every weekend and as a result the number of our followers just continued to grow by the show,” she said. She was doing pretty well but never felt at home at Oneonta, so she transferred to Onondaga Community College (OCC), where she would keep up the same touring schedule and work on finishing up her associate’s degree all while saving money by living at home. She would go on to major in business administration and minor in voice, which may have surprised some people. “Three days before classes started, I changed my major to business,” she said, “I knew that if I wanted to be in the music business, a music performance degree saying I could sing wouldn’t do much good for me; I was going to have to prove myself either way.”
Coming to OCC proved to be a better fit for Lynn because she knew more people and actually was able to work with Professor Katherine Montcrief, who she had gotten to know from performing locally. “She knew my background, but made me work just as hard,” she said, “the program there was great in that it brought me back to the basics and reinforced breathing and vocal techniques, which I still use today.” While at OCC she continued to tour with Skyline, who was expanding her ever-growing fan base while playing in crowded venues across Central and Northern New York and in the County Fair Circuit. During this time, she was able to perform in front of upwards of 5,000 people and open for nationally renowned country acts like John Michael Montgomery, Emerson Drive, and actually perform with Brian White and with Tommy Cash, the younger brother of the legendary Johnny Cash.
Upon graduating from OCC in 2008, she felt the time was right for her to make the move she had always dreamed of so she enrolled at the prestigious Belmont University where she would major in music business. “I did a lot of work while at OCC to make sure all my credits would transfer,” Lynn said, “I entered Belmont as a junior and was well on my way to getting my Bachelor’s in two years in addition to pursuing my dream in music.” When she graduated from Belmont she would take a job at a music publishing house for just over two years, while pursuing her own publishing deal as a songwriter.
Lynn decided to focus more on a song writing deal first knowing that some of the best-known artists followed the same path, and she felt it might payoff for her artistry in the long run. During this transition she won a “Listner’s Choice” contest put on by Nashville Songwriter’s Association International that provided her with the opportunity to attend the County Music Awards where she would be amongst some of the biggest names in country music. Not long after, she had her first song recorded by an artist besides herself, which spent three weeks in the #1 spot on Sirius XM radio The Highway. The song was “Ball Cap” by Glen Templeton. It was then that Lynn went on to sign her first professional songwriting deal with Given Music Publishing on Music Row.
Looking back on all she has accomplished from becoming a professional artist to singing at some of the most sacred music venues in Nashville like the Bluebird Café, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and the Ryman Auditorium, Lynn is still hustling. “It has taken a lifetime of dedication to get me to where I am today,” she said, “These days I’ve got a great team of people behind me and I’m working with exciting up and coming artists as well as some of the industry’s biggest songwriters regularly, so I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend.” However, despite all of these accomplishments, Lynn understands the importance of living life in order to keep her success moving in the right direction. “Songwriters are a small group of people who are challenged with making everyone else in the world feel, think and experience something,’ she said, “so in order to write songs about life we need to experience it, so it can be helpful to take some time off here and there so we have more to draw from.”
Next for Lynn, aside from booking shows in and around Nashville, is an exciting Nashville-based song writer festival in April, called Tin Pan South, where people from all over the country will gather for this ten day event to listen to not only song writers perform their most beloved songs, but the stories that inspired them. “I’m hoping for the chance to perform there again this year like I did last year,” Lynn said, “the vibe there is one of a kind and it’s truly an honor to be included with such incredible talent.” In addition, never one to forget her roots, she will also make her annual trip back to Central New York for a couple of weeks in the summer with her newly formed country quartet called Cassidy Lynn and the Tune Shine Boys (which still includes the drummer from the Seven Bridges Band) and play at some of the same venues where she first made her name. “It’s always nice to come back home to see family, friends and fans,” she said, “they’ve been with me since the very beginning and they support me more than I could even ask them to. For that, I am eternally grateful.” For a list of Lynn’s upcoming shows, you can visit www.cassidylynnmusic.com.