Since arriving on the music scene in 1996, country singer-songwriter Jo Dee Messina has sold more than 5 million records, generating a string of hits like “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” “I’m Alright” and “Stand Beside Me.”
These days, Messina is juggling making music with being a mother.
Messina will perform Dec. 7 at the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.
Steel, Magnolia, Mark Wills and The Makena Hartlin Band also are on the bill. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are $25, available at www.ticketfly.com.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Messina about her latest activities.
Eric Schelkopf: It seems like you spend your fair share of time on the road. Do you think that is where you are in your element, on stage?
Jo Dee Messina: That’s where I have the most fun. I enjoy the band that I play with and I enjoy the crowd’s response to the songs and the whole process of doing a show.
And I think the audience can tell that, that I love what I do and the guys on stage love what they do. We have fun, and I think they pick up on that energy and that adds another element to the show.
ES: Of course, you juggle touring with being a mom. Is that difficult, juggling the two?
JM: My husband and I work together. We travel as a family. We take the kids on the road with us, and I have him to help.
We also have a nanny that comes out on the road with us, and a bunch of band and crew guys that end up helping out. We function very much like a big family.
ES: You also write a blog called Fumbling Mom. Do you see yourself helping out people?
JM: It’s just me making fun of myself, really. I’m just doing the best I can, and I share the crazy stories.
ES: When you first started out, did you ever imagine that you would be so successful? Are you still overwhelmed by what you have achieved?
JM: I guess I don’t really look at it that way. I more look at it that I get to do this for a living. And I’m very grateful for that.
ES: How do you think the music business has changed over the years?
JM: It’s fascinating. I’m about to post a song online that I wrote two weeks ago. So it’s two weeks from creation to getting it out to the people. And it’s awesome to be able to do that.
ES: So, do you think that it is in some ways easier to be a musician these days than when you first started out?
JM: It’s easier to make a life as a musician, I think, because your stuff gets out there. My cousin is 19 years old and a musician, and he does YouTube videos every week.
So, the new generation is all about the Internet. They get to live their dreams, and they don’t have to sell their soul to a record label. They don’t have to sign away everything.
ES: You’re also involved in several charitable organizations, including your own A Million Doors campaign. Is that important for you to be involved in different charities?
JM: It is. It’s just helping out and making a difference. Everyone can do it. If you give of your time and efforts, you can make a difference in someone’s life.
And I think that’s why we’re here, to help each other out, not to beat each other up.
ES: You’ve also appeared on Bravo’s TV show, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” working with cast member Kandi Burruss. Do you think that’s given a boost to your career?
JM: I don’t know. I did that show because I was a huge fan of Kandi and her writing.
She is a phenomenal singer. That was such a great experience to be able to spend time with her.
ES: I understand that you are working on some new songs. What should people expect from your next album?
JM: A lot of fun music. We do a few of the new songs in the live show now, and the response is incredible. They get an almost bigger response than the hits do.
The people have been wanting new material. They’re open to it, and relating to it.
ES: Besides the new album coming out, do you have any dream projects or dream collaborations that you would like to pursue?
JM: I’m always open to those kinds of things. If I were to do anything with anyone in the world, I would probably do like an album like “Christmas From Boston With James Taylor.”
ES: Do you see him as a musical inspiration?
JM: Oh, absolutely. And he lives up there, and I’m from there.
ES: So, what advice would you give someone trying to break into the music business?
JM: Run away. No, I’m just kidding.
Just write every chance you can and sing every chance you can. Just get out there and play.