April 30, 2010 at 10:24 am , by Ron Kelly
I first became a grateful “Red Head”—that is, a Jo Dee Messina fan—back in the late 80s. It was during Nashville’s Fan Fair, the CMA Music Festival’s former incarnation. Jo Dee was a rising country music star and I was in the TNN booth as a guest of the now defunct music channel. After sneaking up behind an up-and-coming male artist (who shall remain nameless) Jo Dee playfully jabbed his backside with her pen, turned to me, caught my eye and let out her awesomely raspy, trademark laugh. Good times! I knew back then she was one to look out for—both literally and figuratively—and nearly 12 years later, she’s still turning heads.
This Tuesday marked the release of Unmistakable: Love, the first of three Jo Dee Trilogy EPs set to drop this year, with Drive and Inspiration to follow. Love offers seven new tracks and two live acoustic favorites (“Because You Love Me” and “Stand Beside Me”). It’s great to have Jo Dee’s distinctive vocals (and laugh) back on the scene after a frustratingly long six-year absence, and I’m particularly digging the slow-build on “Think About Us” and the buoyant and fresh-sounding waltz, “Unmistakable.”
I sat down to chat with Jo Dee before a recent show during a weeklong gig at New York’s Feinstein’s at Loews Regency club in March. We talked about her marriage, her baby boy Noah, her pregnancy ritual of watching Live! With Regis and Kelly and even her desire to run this year’s NYC marathon. But in the end, we kept coming back to the music. Now, Jo Dee isn’t shy about her struggles with the “business” side of the music business. And it’s a shame that a talent like hers has been lost in the shuffle for the better part of the past six years. When she hit the stage that night, though—man, did she sound good. Plus, she’s funny, able to laugh at herself and clearly dedicated to her music and her fans, both on and off the stage. (Check out her frequent Make Something of It call-in video podcasts.)
Let’s hope Trilogy puts the music industry on red (head) alert that Jo Dee is back and sounding as strong as ever. Highlights from our interview, after the jump.