With more than two million copies of I'm Alright already
sold, unprecedented radio success and solid years on the road, Jo Dee
Messina knows what she wants. It gives her an edge in creating a
signature song style and sound that has just enough bounce to keep her
moving. But, being so sure of what she wants also creates little speed
bumps in the process in terms of getting exactly what she has in mind.
"So much has happened! My career is working
better than ever and my personal life is in a more secure place. But I
had to go through Hell to get there," she says.
"Once you've been burned, you never forget that.
It also comes with living and learning. And I think my albums seem to
reflect where I am in my life, because I need to relate to my songs on
"Someone said to me, 'As much as you give away of
yourself in your music, do you worry about being too honest?' And you
know, I don't think you can be too honest. When you've been hurt or have
been through some rough experiences, you don't want someone else to go
through it. It's awful…and if by being honest about a broken heart or
whatever, you can maybe keep someone else from making that mistake, who
Though Jo Dee Messina has always worn her heart
and her dreams on her sleeve, the success she's enjoyed in her career,
the interaction with the fans and a settling in her personal life have
certainly helped add perspective.
After completing the Judds' Power To Change Reunion
tour, Messina spent a year balancing her headlining concerts with
special guest appearances on both
Strait's Country Festival Stadium tour. In addition, she made
her acting debut on "Nash Bridges" and then quickly landed a
role as a candy factory worker with a crisis of faith on "Touched
By An Angel."
Along the way, Jo Dee Messina has also
re-written the history books a time or two. She set and then tied her
own record for longest run in the Top 30 – 35 weeks! She became the
first woman in the history of Billboard's Country Singles chart to have
three consecutive multiple week #1s hits: "Bye, Bye," "I'm
Alright" and "Stand Beside Me."
For Messina, it comes down to having a center and
being generous. Having learned solid values and a hardcore Northeastern
work ethic from her single mother, she wants to inspire her audience as
much as she wants to thrill them.
The notion of friendship is something Messina takes
seriously. Though many of the fans may only have a passing moment with
her, she thrives as much on that interaction as they do. And given the
limited time most people will get to spend with her, Jo Dee Messina
works very hard to make sure her albums go out of their way to truly say
something – even as they also catch people up in their feel-good
"To me, it's all life…some of it is hard
and you have to get through it; some of it is sweet and you should enjoy
it. Don't miss that good stuff!
"So many of my fans are under 25 or 26,"
Messina explains. "To see a 16-year old out in the audience with a
guy who's yelling at her or pulling on her arm, that breaks my heart,
because you know at that age, you don't necessarily know there's
anything else. I've been there. I've dated the jerk and I've got my
Helping people is perhaps the greatest pay-off for
Messina. Having bounced back from some dire career issues in '97, the
freewheeling woman, who's been described by Teen People as "country's
Bonnie Raitt" and by several radio
personnel as "the voice of the people," is all about what lies
down the road.
"Country radio and the fans reached out to me and
helped me at a difficult time," Messina enthuses. "They made
the difference in my life. I like the idea that I can give some of that
back! Now that things aren't in such a lowdown state, I'm able to help
other people more."
"Since it's not just about keeping my head above
water, I'm able to reach out to help others. And you know what? Of all
the stuff that's happened to me over the last couple years, that's what
I live for: being able to help everybody else. As long as I've got my
songs to sing and a roof over my head and I'm able to do things for
others, then I'm complete."
You could say Jo Dee Messina has figured out
how to live the life she dreamed. It's not always been easy, but she's
more than willing to pay the price, do the work and just keep believing.