After selling more than five million albums, producing nine No. 1 hit singles, and earning various Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards, singer/songwriter Jo Dee Messina can look at her life and accomplishments and truly say, “I am.” She’s penned hits like “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” “I’m Alright” and the album, “Burn,” which earned her two grammy award nominations. She’s one of the first women in country to headline a major tour, and in 2010, her sixth studio album, “Unmistakable,” will become her first release in five years. Country Music Pride caught up with Messina as she was grocery shopping, and discussed her upcoming album and the impact family has on her career.
Country Music Pride: What excites you most about releasing “Unmistakable” this spring?
JDM: It’s been five years since I’ve had a record out, so just having new material out in the public is awesome. I can’t stand it!
Country Music Pride: What inspired the new CD?
JDM: It’s been a long time coming. It’s been completed a few times, and everyone’s finally on the same page. With the label ready to release the record, I’m ready to get the music out there; that’s just really exciting for me. What inspires me? Life. You can tell where I was during the making of each record —you get a peak into my life.
Country Music Pride: I’ve heard this album will be unlike anything else you’ve written and that people will get to see a different side of you. Is that true?
JDM: I think it’s just more of me. We all have different sides — feisty sides and sides where we appreciate the simple things in life. All of that is expressed in the album.
Country Music Pride: How has your marriage and birth of son, Noah Roger, impacted this album?
JDM: “That’s God” (the album’s first single) was written after I took a walk with my son, and realized for the first time, he’s seeing mountains and lakes. How do you explain that? He doesn’t understand a thing I say. We went for a walk in Canada and saw a snowcapped mountain in the middle of July. I saw a glacier lake at the bottom of the mountain that was so stunning. I said, “Look Noah, that’s God right there.” He definitely inspired the writing of the first single.
Country Music Pride: In life, what would you say your biggest obstacle has been to overcome?
JDM: Just everyday life.
Country Music Pride: Tell me about your “Music Room Series Tour.”
JDM: The stage is set up like the music room in my house — we have furniture and the lamps — it’s like the audience is sitting with me for the evening. You can request songs, ask questions — it’s really an intimate setting. We also do a UStream broadcast during each show. I love to keep up with the fans and keep them posted with me.
Country Music Pride: After listening to “Unmistakable,” what do you want your fans to take away from it?
JDM: [To look at] my career as a whole. When it’s all said and done, when I meet my maker, I want Him to say ‘I’m proud of you because you’re famous; because you took what I gave you and made a difference.’
Country Music Pride: What are some of your favorite songs to play live?
JDM: “That’s God.” It’s my soul out on a piece of paper. It’s like saying “Thank you, God.” It’s truly a gift from God.
Country Music Pride: Were you surprised by any of the awards given out at the Country Music Association awards earlier this month?
JDM: Taylor Swift winning is not a surprise; it was definitely her year. None of it was like, “Oh I can’t believe it.”
Country Music Pride: What do you think about your fans choosing you as Mashable’s 2009 Open Web Best Musical Artist to Follow on Twitter?
JDM: I am?! I think they said that because I do my own tweets. I always come up with something smart to say.
Country Music Pride: Do you get any really weird tweets from fans?
JDM: Not really. I think the fans are really respectful; they make it fun. When you get someone that hits your site that’s not your fan, well, my fans are all over it. They boot them off the site. Some guy was making a mean comment and he was being nasty, so my fans were all over it. They said, “You need to get off this site.”
Country Music Pride: On Dec. 5, you’re performing a holiday concert in Nashville to benefit Harvest Hands Community Development Center. Why was this opportunity so important to you?
JDM: I just was so blown away when I went down there that I need to make people aware of it. Harvest Hands is a group, not just an organization you throw money at. A young preacher and his wife moved into the roughest area of Nashville in order to give their lives and raise their family in an area of the town that’s not preferred. They need volunteers and money to provide for the kids. They want to raise awareness and we need people to donate time and help kids with homework. Tickets are free, and it’s a community helping the community.