FAIRMONT - Country singer Jo Dee Messina has been on the Nashville country scene since 1996, but for her fifth full-length album, she's taken a different approach.
After being freed from a record-label deal, Messina launched her own label and let the fans decide nearly everything from the songs to new label logo. This new material, along with her biggest hits, will be featured when Messina takes the stage Aug. 16 at the Martin County Fair.
"I'd been recording for the last eight years," Messina said in an interview with the Sentinel, referring to the time between her current album, "ME," and her last album. "But the label was not releasing them. It was killing me. I said, 'Just let me go.'"
Jo Dee Messina
After being released, Messina used Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects, to release her new music with the "My Time. Our Music," campaign. Her fans helped her raise the $100,000 needed to start her own label. It was the most successful Kickstarter campaign to come from Nashville, and one of the largest in Kickstarter history.
During this time, Messina also was reflecting and posting blogs on her website.
"When I started writing, I didn't know I was writing for an album," she said. "I was just writing, and people were saying, 'This is great. You should use this for your next album.' So I just started asking the fans and let them put it together. I didn't have a label deal, so we used Kickstarter."
The result is "ME," which has garnered Messina some of the best reviews of her career.
"It's unique because I didn't know I was making an album," she said. "I wasn't trying to fit into anything. But it's the different stuff that breaks out ... The critics, or I should say the reviews, are the best of my career. And with the fans response, I'm just blessed."
Some of the songs show the feisty spirit she's known for hasn't been dimmed. The current single, "A Woman's Rant," takes on life as many working mothers know it. Her next release, called "I'm Not Dead Yet," could be a personal anthem for Messina.
"It was inspired by Peyton Manning, when everyone thought he was over, and then he was signed to the Broncos," said Messina, adding that her husband keeps her updated on all things sports. "The song is a tribute to those who have overcome massive obstacles and people who were counted out before their time. Right now, we're gathering footage for the video."
If anything, Messina is stronger than ever as she does her music her way. She also tours her own way, with family in tow.
"I have two boys, ages 2 and 5," she said. "They come along all the time and my husband is my sound crew ... We're weekend warriors during the school year, but I'm touring 12 months of the year."
Summertime means lots of fairs and festivals for Messina, with the theaters and arenas saved for the other times of the year. When asked if she has a preference for where she takes the stage, her immediate answer is, "Nope."
"I just like to perform," she added.
She will do so in the park area of the Martin County Fairgrounds at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 16. Gate fee for the evening is $9.