Multiple No. 1 hits and a series of popular albums, including some pop cross-over success, has propelled Jo Dee Messina in to the music-scene forefront. This Friday, you can see Jo Dee Messina live in the Celebrity Showroom, July 30, at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
Part of country music’s late-’90s crop of female crossover stars, Messina’s appeal nonetheless remained more with country fans than pop audiences. It seems like it only took a few short years for Messina to rise to the elite ranks of female country artists who headline their own tours. The truth is, however, that Messina has been singing and plugging away since her early teens, determined to be nothing else but a country music star. She sang in musical plays starting at age eight but discovered country music at age 12 and got hooked on the likes of the Judds, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton. She soon started performing live, and by 16 she was playing local clubs with a rhythm section made up of her brother and sister. At age 19, she moved to Nashville in search of greater exposure and sang regularly for prize money in local talent competitions. One win led to a regular gig on the radio show Live at Libby’s, which in turn caught the interest of producer Byron Gallimore, who helped her assemble a demo tape. Gallimore was also working with the young Tim McGraw around the same time, and Messina befriended him. Backstage at one of his concerts, Messina met an executive from his label, Curb, and jokingly suggested that they needed a redhead. Producer James Stroud, who had just heard Messina’s demo, stepped up to vouch for her, and she soon wound up on Curb, with Gallimore and McGraw serving as her producers.
Messina’s self-titled debut album was released in 1996 and gave her two Top Ten hits in “Heads Carolina, Tails California” and “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore.” The album sold well, setting the stage for Messina’s star-making sophomore effort, I’m Alright. Released in 1998, it made Messina the first female country artist to score three multiple-week number one hits from the same album: “Bye Bye,” “I’m Alright,” and “Stand Beside Her.” She nearly had a fourth, but “Lesson in Leavin’” stalled at number two. Honored by both the CMA and ACM in 1999, Messina staked out even pop-friendlier territory on her third album, 2000’s Burn. It became her first number one album, and the lead single, “That’s the Way,” her fourth number one single. Two more Top Tens followed in “Burn” and “Downtime,” and a fourth single, the Tim McGraw duet “Bring on the Rain,” also topped the charts, helping Burn sell over a million copies. Messina followed it with the holiday album A Joyful Noise in late 2002, and just months later, with only three albums to her credit, Curb released a Greatest Hits compilation. In 2005 she released her official follow-up to Burn, called Delicious Surprise, with Unmistakable coming in 2010.
Jo Dee Messina plays one night, July 30, in the Celebrity Showroom at 8 p.m. Tickets are just $50 and are available by calling (800) 648-1177 or (775) 356-3300 or by visiting janugget.com. Dinner and show packages are available.