Jo Dee Messina Performs At Avi Grand Ballroom (Visiti site)

What’s a nice Italian/Irish gal from New England doing in the world of country music?Well, singing her heart out, that’s what.

Massachusetts native Jo Dee Messina didn’t let a little thing like geography stop her from pursuing a career in country music. Heck, New England was the original “country” of America, so why not make it work. But reality dictated that to do so, she had to head south.

At 19, she loaded a car and headed to Nashville where she entered talent contests and got a regular gig on Nashville’s “Live at Libby’s” radio show. She soon signed with Curb Records and gained attention out of the box with “Heads Carolina, Tails California” and “You’re Not In Kansas Anymore.” Her follow-up album, I’m Alright, exploded with its back-to-back-to-back chart-toppers “Bye Bye” (ASCAP’s Song of the Year), “I’m Alright” and “Stand Beside Me” made her a star. Messina won the ACM’s Top New Female Vocalist award, the CMA Horizon award and the nod for Most Played Country Female of 1999 from Billboard. The Burn album went platinum and earned two Grammy nominations. Hits like “Lesson in Leavin’,” “Because You Love Me,” “Downtime,” “Bring On The Rain” (with Tim McGraw), “That’s The Way” and “My Give A Damn’s Busted” followed.

Her new release, titled Me, comes out in March with some of those songs on the release now a part of her live show (pre-order her album here). We caught up with Messina via a phone interview last week. Here’s her take on…

The “we” behind Me

Messina: The fans chose the title. The whole record was made in a really unique way. Last year, I started posting bits and pieces of songs on social media and let the fans choose whether a song should make the record or not. Over a course of months we—me and the fans—decided on what songs would make the record. Then we did a kickstarter campaign to fund the record. The fans got to pick the title, they got to pick the first single, a fan designed the logo for the label—so it’s been a total interaction with the public making this record.

I think they wanted it to be titled “Me” because it has so many different sides. It’s not just straight-forward country. There’s bluegrass, there’s rock, there’s pop-edge stuff, straight-down-the-road country radio stuff, so there’s a little bit of everything—it’s just like me as a person— there’s a lot of different sides.

Different hats, too…

Messina: I don’t have a standard management company. I have a CEO of the brand. I have a personal assistant. I have a website. It’s all the branches of a management company but it’s all under the Dreambound Entertainment umbrella, which is my corporation.

I’m attempting to do this music career in a totally different way than the way I’ve done it my entire life. It is a huge learning process—learning everything all those people did, taking chances, getting out there and reaching out personally to the media, to the fans, to radio. It’s more personal. If you look at my Facebook page you’ll see how interactive I am with the fans. I reach out to them…I’ll reach out to anyone. I’ll reach out to the guy booking shows and say, “hey, Dude, we’re available,” whereas before it was always the middle man.

“Peace Sign”

Messina: The new single is titled “Peace Sign” and is available on ITunes. I know your stations up there are playing it. It was chosen by the people to be the first single. We had 250,000 impressions in 10 days and that’s the song they wanted as the first single. Now, we are performing it live.

The song “Me”

Messina: (It) talks about how I’m a daughter, I’m a friend, I’m a shoulder to lean on…I have to be a teacher, I have to guide these little critters in the world…. I have to be so many things. Sometimes it’s scary because when I look in the mirror I see my own reflection and I’m like, “Oh, gosh, can she pull it off?”

That song hits close to home and it’s hard to get through sometimes.


Messina: I mostly write about stuff I’m going through or relate to, so it would really reflect a lot of who I am. So a beer-drinking, bar-hopping man is not something that I am, so I don’t sing a lot about it. But getting my heart broken or standing up for myself or things I would do personally, those are things I can write about. When my brain has time to idle, that’s when I think, “Man, I’d like to write about such and such. I don’t know that one time is better than another to write songs.

Evolving musically…

Messina: I think music as a whole has changed. There’s always something new to learn and experiment with, whether it’s instrumentation, the process of getting the music down on tape, writing or how you incorporate the backgrounds….

Singing from the heart…

Messina: If you come out and see a show you know it’s not an “oh, my God, look at me” kind of show. It’s really me laying a piece of who I am out on that stage.

Yankee going country…

Messina: I know I fell in love with country music because it was real, it was relatable. I felt like they were talking about my life. They knew me.


Messina: Mostly the strong women songwriters….the Dolly Partons….Reba McEntire, The Judds. Again, strong women. Those were the people I was inspired by.

Social power…

Messina: Exposing music has changed so much. There’s a huge resurgence of 18-25 years olds that just started discovering my music via Spotify, Twitter, Facebook, Pandora and Rhapsody, and all these optional places where people are getting music. But the songs have to catch on. “Bye Bye” will be every 18-year-old’s anthem. “Lesson In Leavin’” will be every 24-year-old’s break up song….

Crowd favorites…

Messina: “Woman’s Rant” is the new one women talk about the most as far as, “Oh, my God, you know my life.” Yeah, that’s ’cause I live it. It talks about a day in the life of a woman and all the things she has to do

But I can’t leave without doing the hits—”Lesson In Leavin’,” “Bring On The Rain,” “Bye Bye,” “I’m Alright,” “Heads Carolina, Tails California,”—I gotta do all those songs.



Avi Grand Ballroom

Saturday, February 15. 8 p.m. (See Showtimes for tickets)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *