Grammy-nominated country singer Jo Dee Messina has always maintained a close relationship with her fans. Most recently, they funded her upcoming album, “My Time, Our Music,” through a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $100,000.
Messina will sing a slew of her No. 1 singles and preview songs from her upcoming album with a Valentines Day concert at Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino in Laveen. The Nashville-based star spoke to GetOut to discuss her past, her loyal fans and her new album and single.
Q: I was surprised to discover that you are from Framingham, Mass., which is not exactly a breeding ground for country music. How did it grab hold of you?
JDM: I initially liked country music because it was real and relatable. It was the kind of music that seemed to be the story of my life. Also, there were so many great country music artists out at the time in the records stores and on the radio. We’re talking Alabama, The Judds, Juice Newton, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire. Back then country wasn’t as mainstream as it is now, but these were the artists who heavily influenced me growing up.
Q: I was also curious to hear about your temping experiences in Nashville while you were a starving artist. What kind of jobs did you hold down?
JDM: I had so many jobs, and each one was a definite learning experience. I was a bartender who didn’t know how to serve drinks. I was awful. I didn’t know the difference between gin and whiskey. I didn’t know what each spirit looked like or what color it was supposed to be. It took me forever to mix a drink. I was also an accountant for a Christian record label and saw how little money actually goes to the artist!
Q: You were with Curb Records for 17 years, and they helped build your career to what it is today. Tell me about your recent experience with using Kickstarter to fund your new album, ‘My Time, Our Music,’ which comes out in March.
JDM: I was very fortunate with that effort, and it’s not as easy as one might think. You just don’t list what you’re going to do and then suddenly everybody gives you money. I discovered through the process that the artist has to educate the public what Kickstarter is and how it works. The first two weeks of the campaign was dedicated to educating the public what it is, how it works and what people get in return. It’s really a rewards program and not just, ‘Hey, give me money for this album.’ I remember spending an entire day stuffing envelopes for signed photos, which were rewards for participation. There was a lot of work involved, but it’s what I had to do to get the record made.
Q: This is truly a participatory project in that you allowed the fans to pick some of the songs.
JDM: Sometimes when I was on the label, I’d hear from an executive, ‘This song is a hit, and you’d better record it.’ There were a few songs I wasn’t so crazy about, and I think every artist has those sorts of stories. I can’t think of a single song or instance where I said, ‘I sure am glad they made me record that song.’ I’ve always said that people can sense when something is forced or isn’t right. So many of these songs are ones that the fans want to hear me sing, and I’d rather it come from them than a record executive.
Q: The first single off the album, ‘Peace Sign’ is quite funny.
JDM: I thought ‘Peace Sign’ was really funny when I first heard it. It’s about a guy who breaks up with a girl through an email. She says, ‘I’m not going to come undone, I’ve got nothing but love for you, I’m just saying goodbye with a one-fingered peace sign.’ It’s very tongue-in-cheek.
If you go
What: Jo Dee Messina in concert
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14
Where: Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino, 15091 S. Komatke Lane, Laveen
Information: (800) 946-4452, ext. 7370, or WinGilaRiver.com
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