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Cady Groves


Michael Eisele


Cady Groves always knew  life is hard. She also knew how you handle it says everything about being alive.  Consequently, she always brought  the light with her no matter what.
“Writing songs isn’t about complaining or wallowing in how you feel but actually changing the way you feel,” the Kansas-based songwriter firecracker said as she put the finishing touches on Bless My Heart. “And music can do that. It can get inside you, shake everything and lift you up. For me, that’s what all of this is about.”

Her irrepressible spirit, tart songwriting and cheeky humor buoyed the 30 year old performer’s music, stage show and self through a cascade of tough times that would’ve stopped most. But not the unsinkable Cady Groves. Failed record deals, dead end romances, self-doubt, none of it stopped her.

“You know, I didn’t ask to have a Dad in prison, two brothers die, an endless stream of reasons why my label couldn’t figure it out,” she says with a laugh about her life before Nashville. “But I know how it feels to want to quit, to give up, to walk away – and the way music makes people feel, I stay.”

Bless My Heart is ripe with that hope. For Groves, it was the culmination of four years in Nashville, writing with everyone from breakout producer Busbee to Americana legend Jim Lauderdale. But it was the SMACK Songs crew that the diminutive vocalist found the creative center to move from her emo/pop origins to a fresh-faced take on country.

Always leaning into hope and resilience, the title track tracked her life’s disappointments and faith that someone would recognize her true beauty, while “Camo” considered the notion of being invisible – and “Cigarettes and Sunsets” embraced the memories of a loved ones departed. That’s perhaps the biggest irony of all: Groves didn’t live to see the release of the CD she was so proud of.

“Everybody has feelings, whether you admit to them or not,” she said several weeks before she passed.  “But an artist like me, I can sense them – and that’s such an inspiration. If I can pick somebody else up, lift their spirits or clear up what they’re thinking, that pushes me to really throw it out there – because if I can feel good and be grateful after all this stuff, so can other people.”

The spare “Crying Game,” a no frills, details-driven series of images from a life survived, marks a singular talent. Real. True. Little girl voice like a bow on a package, she outlines the story – and somehow finds courage and hope, “living and loving gets me through the pain/don’t take for granted one single day….Life’s a crying game, there’s no winning/once you play, life is fragile, and can slip away, let me tell you when it does, it’s such a shame…”

She also recorded a take on James Blunt’s “Bartender,” flipping the gender, but taking the same vulnerable take on being young, being out in the world and trying to find a way back to love. It’s her transparency and eyes wide-open desire to love and be loved that makes the songs shimmer in a way that’s both real and optimistic.

With roots that are almost a cyberCinderella story set to music, it was ultimately  the music that set her fairy tale in motion. The free-falling emotional punch that found its way into Groves’ clever melodies was delivered wih wicked wordplay; but ultimately, her pluck made her stand out in the MySpace overgrowth. With just one song posted, labels were messaging, flying the whip-thin ebony-haired Groves all over the country; making offers over her protest, “I just want to be a songwriter.”

“I’d never been on a plane,” she confessed  of the initial blast of attention, “then I’m signing my deal, getting on a tour bus and playing with all these idols – Third Eye Blind, Good Charlotte, LMFAO – on the Bamboozle Road Show.  It was all these outdoor shows, no shower and 20,000 people who loved everything about the music and what we were doing.”

If Los Angeles wasn’t ultimately for her, Groves made her way home – and then made her way to Nashville. With an outrageous sense of melody, she was setting writing appointments before she finished unpacking her boxes. Everywhere she went, she made friends and music. Lots of options, lots of maybes, but always an eye on the people who like her love music and also use the songs to lift themselves up.

“People wanna feel good, they wanna forget what’s bugging them,” she says of recycling painful stumbles into better options, something her songs often lean into.  “I figure if I do that, then I’ve done something – and these songs, they take bitter and angry and sad and mean, and recycle it all to feel better.

“Maybe I couldn’t save some of the people in my life, but I think about all the people out there who need to feel alive, and I get up there and do it for them. To me, let’s be crazy and silly and fun; that makes you strong and grateful and, well, happy. After all of it, that’s what I’ve learned – and music, well, that’s the emotional thing of all!”

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