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Jo Dee Messina: the hardest working girl in country burns on

By Jeffrey B. Remz, September 2000

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Messina says that in general "There were a lot of great songs that were pitched, but just didn't apply to what we were looking for. With each bit of criteria - performance-wise, musically, lyrically - it starts to cut down eliminate songs. We have to sift through and sift through and find the right songs and a lot of times."

"Your ears get tired, you have to recognize when your ears get tired and go back."

"If it doesn't click, if i don't know what was just said, I just stop and put it in the to be listened to file instead of the pass file," she says.

While most acts hit the road when tan album comes out, Messina is going to take some time off.

"For the first time in five years, we're all pulling the road organization off the road. We're planning our headline tour for next year, which will be headed limited cities because of the size of the show we 're going to have to."

The tour is slated for sometime in 2001 with a tour sponsor lined up.

That's a far cry from a few years ago when Messina was in the dumps financially despite hits with "Heads Carolina, Tails California" (her first single, which hit number 2 in March 1996) and "You're Not in Kansas Anymore."

"Bills came in every month. insurance bills, payroll that they don't stop because all of a sudden you don't have income. Bus leases. Truck leases. Insurance that you just can't stop."

"It's pretty overwhelming," she says.

"You know it's coming, but you really can't stop it. You're already booked for these shows, and you're losing money for all of these shows. You're praying for a single that does well because that can kind of bail you out. When it's not coming, then you're prepared to get hit."

Speaking of her advisors, Messina says, "They had actually drawn up bankruptcy papers. They said, 'sign these.' I said, 'I can't. It's like quitting.' They said, you're going to be in serious trouble. I said I just got to believe in what's coming, and they're (the bankruptcy papers) still sitting there today."

"It had to do with the work and the ability to pay. When we started to get more dates on the books, (it) was giving me the means to pay these bills."

That happened about two years ago when "Bye Bye," the first single from "I'm Alright" hit the top.

Going number one "doesn't have any security in it, but the fact that that created work for me. It put me back on tour. It enabled to go out and play and make money. We just started digging it. My backup singer said, 'what do you get with a number one record.' I said, 'a shovel.' You're not all of a sudden there and home free. It gives you something to work with."

"When you stop having songs on the radio, you're no longer in demand. Deana Carter was coming on, and who's Jo Dee?"

Life's been good for Messina with chart success, album sales and dates on 1999's George Strait Fest and opening for The Judds reunion tour this year.

But don't think Messina is coasting.

"I don't think there's ever a point where you're set. I believe that, and it's been proven to me. I was very surprised at the success of it and very grateful and still to this day working to do the best I can because there's never a point where you're set."

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