According to all search engines and music libraries, no such person or entity has ever released an album before. In fact, though, Bohéme is the name taken by an established and acclaimed musician—a singer, songwriter, producer, and entrepreneur—to mark a new chapter in her career, and in her life. So rather than announcing the arrival of a rookie, Follow the Freedom represents an artist reborn.
For eight years, Cassidy was the front woman and primary songwriter in Antigone Rising. After releasing four independent albums, the all-female rock band was signed to Lava/Atlantic Records, and its 2005 major label debut From the Ground Up sold almost 500,000 copies.
Celebrated for the excitement of its live performances, the group toured with the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Dave Mathews, and Rob Thomas.
When she decided to leave the band, however, Cassidy faced a conundrum. In the intervening years, a rapper known as Cassidy had hit the charts and, as she says, "kind of cornered the market on the moniker."
Really, though, the name issue wasn't the most immediately pressing matter for the singer. Having struck back out on her own, she found that she had lost the inspiration to make music. "It was like the voice was silent," she says. "I was disenchanted, bewildered. I didn’t have the desire to do it anymore, or know if I could ever get back there again."
She did some freelance journalism and some acting, wrote a book and screenplay, even tried writing a few songs— "but they felt like a chore," she says.
Something more drastic needed to happen for Cassidy to find her fire for making music, her passion since singing in local New Jersey bands as a teenager before moving to New York, Los Angeles, and London to chase the dream.
"I needed to go back to the beginning, to who I was before the band," she says. "And I found that girl was still very much there, and had been progressing the whole time. As soon as I started to be creative without having to prove anything, the songs started to come, and it was like the floodgates opened."
The first song to arrive was the breezy, buoyant "Everything Sunshine," its mood the furthest thing from the crisis she was facing. "That was the first moment I could see that I was headed in the right direction," she says, "and that the answers could possibly be in the songs themselves, if I could just let myself write them."
Next came "Even the Mistakes," a sentiment that was perhaps both more predictable and more necessary in her current state. "The song was giving me permission to screw up," she says. "I realized that the bad times in your life aren't forever, and they happen for a reason."
By the time she wrote the powerful "Thank You for Breaking My Heart," Cassidy had relocated to LA and knew that she had something to develop. She contacted her old friend Don Boyette, best known as Michael Jackson's touring bassist, who agreed to co-produce her album, with all of the support a true friend can offer. "I've known Don forever, we have sort of a brother-sister relationship," she says.
The sound that Cassidy created for Follow the Freedom, in front and behind the microphone, took the singer back to her earliest influences. "I always wrote these little blue-eyed soul ditties—like some cross between Minnie Riperton and Rickie Lee Jones, with some arena-rock sensibilities in the choruses," she says. "The radio was the only musical instrument in my house growing up, so I love those '70s and '80s melodies."
During the final stages of the album, she even got to live out a true classic-rock dream. Mixer Niko Bolas, who has worked with everyone from Neil Young to Frank Sinatra to Keith Richards, invited an old friend to stop by and listen to Cassidy's songs.
"I walked into the studio one day to find Steve Perry hanging out in my mixing bay," she says, still with a certain degree of disbelief. "Before I knew it, he was there every day showing me tricks he used to get his voice to sound like that on his albums. Secrets I will take to my grave! He even came up with this cool idea for a backing vocal on 'Follow The Freedom'. We threw a mic up and sang together!"
With the album done, and given an unexpected blessing from the voice of Journey, there was still the unresolved matter of the name. "Don said it would just come to me, and it did," she says. She settled on a word that has long evoked creativity and independence.
DOWNLOAD A FREE MP3 of the Remix ft. vocals by Steve Perry
"Bohéme is the name of the project," she says, "but it's also me. Who I am and how I feel—a gypsy, a free spirit. I'll always be Cassidy, that's my name, but this is sort of an alter ego, a character I’ve created as I’m starring in this new role of my life."
And that's a complicated role, indeed, as Cassidy is releasing the album on her own Band and Mountain record label, while preparing to bring the new songs alive with all of her usual dynamism on stage. But, as always, the music comes first: With its brave emotions, uplifting messages, and soaring soul melodies, Follow the Freedom offers a classic sound and a welcome spirit in the music landscape.
"When I look into the abyss of the music business," says Cassidy, "I don’t see me out there. We need theatrics and slight of hand, we all want to be entertained of course! But we also need more voices of women who are real. There has to be someone else girls can look at and say, 'She’s like me.'
"I made the music that I want to hear.
I only really know how to do what I do."
I only really know how to do what I do."
BOHEME - FOLLOW THE FREEDOM
1. Follow the Freedom
2. Even The Mistakes
3. Everything Sunshine*
4. Blind Spot
5. Done Done Done*
7. Pot of Gold*
8. A Girl Like That
9. Sensitive People*
10. Thank You for Breaking My Heart
*Mixed by Niko Bolas at The Surf Shack, Los Angeles, CA
All songs produced by Cassidy Catanzaro and Don Boyette except for "Pot Of Gold" and "Sensitive People" which were produced by Cassidy Catanzaro and George Stanford.
03/31 - N. Augusta, SC @ Downstairs Live
04/01 - Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
04/02 - Arlington, VA @ IOTA
04/03 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Café
04/04 - Philadelphia, PA @ Tin Angel
04/06 - New York, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall (No Cover)