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Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Musician Profiles

Beachcomber Profiles* — Cassidy Dickens

HOMETOWN: Currently exploring Navarre, but central/southern West Virginia will always be home.

AGE: 23.

PROFESSION: I consider myself first and foremost a writer. Singing and songwriting are my passions, but I write all sorts of non-musical things as well.

HOBBIES: I love writing and music, obviously. I also absolutely love hiking. To me, it’s hard to beat a day backpacking up a mountain. I also love to read (mostly classics and poetry), watch documentaries, play with my pets (I have a one-year-old Boxer/Pit mix and a very fuzzy yellow cat), and travel anywhere and everywhere.

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS: My most recent accomplishment has to be being nominated for four Beachcomber Music Awards. I was so excited and flattered to see my name on the voting ballot. Thanks so much for the nominations, and thanks to everyone who voted for me!

Prior to moving down here, I finished and released my debut album, Ghosts. It’s a Kickstarter-funded, 14-track collection of original music. I wrote the songs over a period of a couple years. An immense amount of love, work and coffee went into bringing the album to life. Wrapping up that project and promoting it in the time since has been incredibly rewarding.

Oh, and I graduated from college! As of May 2016, I have a BA in English and minors in music and biology. A lot of people questioned why I continued my education when my dream is to be a full-time musician, but honestly, studying literature and creative writing has influenced my songwriting so much. I don’t regret my decision, and I’m proud that I was able to finish my degree and get my first album out simultaneously.

PROFILE: Soft, rolling mountains and creeks red with iron form the backdrop of most of my earliest memories. I was lucky to be born into a family that values music the way most people do water. When classic country enthusiasts inquire about my last name, I’m always happy to tell them that, yes, I share a family tree with Country Music Hall of Famer Little Jimmy Dickens and bluegrass pioneer Hazel Dickens.

I’m enormously proud of these connections; however, it would be remiss of me to pretend that my love for music started anywhere but in the backseat of a car. I first encountered most of my favorite songs while riding to the grocery store, to visit my grandparents, to school, and what have you. Classic country, classic rock, ‘90s alternative, ‘60s pop, it didn’t matter—I loved them all equally. I loved singing and, more than anything, learning the stories behind the songs.

No one was surprised the day I announced that I’d written my first song. I was 12 years old and teaching myself to play a 1930s Montgomery Ward guitar that my grandma, a gospel singer, songwriter and guitarist, had gifted me. The song was called “Once Upon My Broken Heart.” it was, in many ways, exactly the sort of thing you’d expect a preteen girl to write. I knew that song would be the first of many, even if there was room for improvement.

Over the next few years, I wrote hundreds of songs. Most were totally unshareable. I scored a gig hosting a weekly open mic night at my best friend’s grandpa’s downtown cafe, where I used the opportunity to bounce lyrics and melodies off of friendly audiences. Through good fortune and persistence, I booked a few more shows, then a few more, branching further and further away from my hometown. By the time I graduated high school, I was performing fairly regularly and had even been introduced to a couple of Nashville producers and songwriters.

My career in music as I know it now took off my second year of college, when I made the decision to study English and pursue my passion for writing and singing. I expanded away from Appalachia, played regularly on the west coast during seasonal breaks and appeared on television and radio specials whenever possible.

I was able to crowdfund my debut album, Ghosts, thanks to the support of friends, family and fans, and am now writing for a second record. So far, I’m enjoying life in Florida, and I look forward to playing and listening to lots of live music, meeting talented artists, and making lots of memories here on the Emerald Coast.

QUOTE: “What I didn’t understand, all those years when I was waiting for my life to start, was that it had already started.” – Lee Smith, Fair and Tender Ladies

FAVORITE FREE PUBLICATION: Beachcomber, of course!

* Inspired by the late, great Creem magazine.