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Cassidy Sooter: Beyond Fierce By Allison Robertson

Cassidy Sooter has graced pretty much every stage in Abilene with her powerful voice and her sweet-sounding guitar: from small venues, like Fuzzy’s Tacos North, to larger venues, like Potosi Live. 

Her success is no surprise. She was born to a family of creative, agricultural,  and scientific individuals who valued education along with creativity. Her maternal grandparents (affectionately called Memaw and Poppy) instilled in her some of those creative and artistic juices. Memaw made clothes and jewelry and various other types of art; Poppy was a bass singer in a quartet. Her dad is a farmer at heart, who has also worked as a mechanic and currently works as a chemical consultant in the oilfield industry. 

 Her mother instilled in her and her younger sister, Amanda, the importance of education. Cassidy said starting around kindergarten, her mom created a ritual, when she picked them up from school and they would not leave the school parking lot until it was done. They would be sitting in their 1989 Chevy suburban and her mom would ask them “What’s the game plan?” and their answers would be “get an education, graduate from high school, go to college, and have a career.” Cassidy and Amanda were the first people in her family to get a college education. Much of that is owed to the family’s focus on education. Cassidy said her and Amanda were taught that “education is a gift and a privilege.” 

Her family roots created in Cassidy a strong work ethic. She would come home from school, take care of the livestock, and study often until late night. Cassidy would have difficulty falling asleep and found that singing along to karaoke tapes would help her with her insomnia. She found out years later that her mother did something similar; she would play piano at night to help her fall asleep. 

In the Fall of 2003, Poppy passed away but he lives on everytime Cassidy performs. After he passed, Cassidy inherited his 70-year-old Gibson guitar. Cassidy was determined to learn guitar since she was left this precious gift and so she did. She would continue to play guitar from that point forward. 

Her hard work in school paid off, when she graduated Seminole High School as valedictorian in 2004. She obtained her associate’s degree in Agriculture from South Plain College and graduated with high honors and 4.0 GPA. In 2006, she entered the  Agronomy program at Texas Tech. Out of her class of 80, only 3 were women and she was the only woman to graduate from her class. She also graduated Summa Cum Laude. Even though she encountered a lot of male chauvinism in the Agriculture world, she never gave up. “Many of the men I went to school with didn’t want me to succeed.” 

 Even though Cassidy did enter into an M.S. Thesis Program for Soil Science, and even though she wrote 750 pages worth of a M.S. Thesis, shd did not get to defend it. Unfortunately, her main advisor propositioned her during the program, Cassidy said no, and subsequently her funding was cut. She had 2 weeks to find a job when her funding was cut. 

However, Cassidy is a fighter and determined. Despite the horrible events that transpired at Texas Tech, she was able to move forward with her life and moved to Abilene to start work as a field soil scientist.  She also began her music career as Elena Phoenix in 2012. She used a pseudonym to protect herself from would-be stalkers and the like in the music scene. In 2020, she decided to go by her birth name. After all, the entirety of her music is copyrighted under “Cassidy Sooter.” 

Between 2012 and 2018, Cassidy performed with several music projects: Project Phoenix (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, some songwriting), Glover Phoenix (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Crashing Pink Flamingos (played as a guest multiple times, some lead and harmony vocals, some acoustic guitar), Nebulous (lead vocals), Operation Phoenix (lead vocals, songwriting), Peace of Blues (lead vocals for a time), Breaking Stride (some lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar),  and Let It Fall (some lead vocals on some songs, some harmony vocals). Some of those were musical projects with an abusive boyfriend at the time, whom she left in 2018.  She gives credit to God for making it through all that she has. “God is important. Without Him, I wouldn't have made it through all those things.” 

11 months after leaving her ex, Cassidy started dating Michael Hill. Cassidy first met Michael back in 2013 at Chelsea’s in the Mall of Abilene, when he was selling tickets to his band’s upcoming show. The band was A Threat to the Enemy. After meeting each other, they saw each other around the music scene, but they never really talked… They just knew of each other after that first meeting in 2013.  In 2018, after breaking free of the personal hell she was in, Cassidy was trying to build another band as part of her fresh, new start. She approached Michael at Bare Fest in March 2018 and asked him to be her drummer. Instead of a drummer at the time, she gained a wonderful companion. Michael asked Cassidy out twice, after she had approached him in March,  and she said “no” twice. She was still in a bad place from her previous relationship. She prayed about it and God gave the go-ahead when Michael asked her out a 3rd time. For the first part of their first date, Michael invited her to the evening service at his church at the time, Emmanuel Fellow Church in Sweetwater, TX, where he and his brother James were serving on the Worship Team. After the service, Michael and Cassidy talked over coffee in Abilene and they’ve been together ever since. Now, Cassidy and Michael both serve on the Worship Team nearly every Sunday at Emmanuel Fellowship Church, which is their church home. 

  Cassidy continued to work on music but decided it was best to wait to create another band for a while. She focused on her own music and brought in more and more income with each passing year.

The Hill Brothers are not just her bandmates, but her family and some of her biggest supporters. In April 2021, they got Cassidy the recording session time for her first fully produced song, “Gotta Be More.” After several times in the studio, the song was finally mastered and released September 2023.  

In 2022, Cassidy was ready to be in a band again. She told Michael that she was going to make a Facebook post about starting a band and he said ,”OK. Just put down Michael Hill as your drummer.” Soon after, James Hill , Michael’s brother and other half of the band, The Hill Brothers, joined in on guitar and Bruce Copeland joined as bass. The group that they formed became known as Lively. They played their first show at Potosi Live January 28, 2023. 

Most recently, Cassidy was recording at Empire Sound Records with The Hill Brothers this past March. The Hill Brothers, knowing that Cassidy wants to record more songs, gifted her this Christmas with more studio time. At first, it felt like a song would not come along that felt right to record.  As Cassidy states, “Study the legends; nothing is forced.” Using some inspiration from a notebook of Cassidy’s from 2017, a song began to form that would become “Scratches over Scars.” For anyone in Abilene, your first chance to hear  “Scratches of Scars” will be at Lively’s show at The Zone on April 17th. 



Upcoming Shows

April 17th-The Zone in Abilene-Lively 

April 20th-B&C Patio in Baird

May 31st-Abilene Sing

June 14-Ice House

June 15-Perikas Terrace in Seminole, TX 

June 28-Heffs for the Women’s Music Museum Fundraiser


Websites

To book Cassidy: email cassidysootermusic@gmail.com

“Gotta Be More” can be found on Spotify and Apple Music 



Lively




 


 


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