Jo Dee Messina is an award-winning, multi-platinum recording artist that has given her heart and soul to find success. Shes had 8 #1 singles, has been honored by The Country Music Association, The Academy of Country Music and The Grammy Awards and was the first female country artist to score three multiple-week #1 songs from the same album. But success aside, Jo Dee has faced more than her fair share of adversity. Shes battled some demons along the way and experienced the twists and turns that define all of our lives. If anything these life experiences have re-invigorated her and given her a new perspective, which in turn has produced, in her words, her truest recording to date.
Delicious Surprise is Jo Dees 4th studio album. It is that rare recording that captures the true essence of an artists soul. You see, rather then talk about what has occurred in her life, Jo Dee has chosen to sing about it. Shes put together a group of songs that come from her heart, a group of songs that are meant to convey a musical message of optimism, strength and hope. As the songs say, while lifes experiences may be hard, its those experiences that make us who we are and make life worth living.
The 12-track album, co-produced by Jo Dee, Byron Gallimore and Mark Bright, features five songs that were either written or co-written by her. "It Gets Better" shares an optimistic message of hope from a woman that has "felt the chill of this world and come face to face with the devil," written entirely by Jo Dee, which also shows the power and finesse of one of country musics finest voices.
"Music has always been an enormous part of my life," said Jo Dee. "Its not just something I do, its part of who I am. Songwriting to me is my refuge, a safe place to me where I can go to spell out my emotions, especially when dealing with tough situations. It helps me to gain perspective. You could say that songwriting gives me emotional freedom."
But Delicious Surprise also contains songs, not written by Jo Dee, that capture her essence her feistiness, her strength and her humor. No song is more indicative of this than the powerful tongue and cheek rocker, "My Give A Damns Busted" (Tony Martin/Tom Shapiro/Joe Diffie). Jo Dees first song released to radio in nearly two years, it marks another in a list of milestones for her its her fastest rising single ever at country radio. Its flown up the charts and taken its place as
another in a long line of Messina hits. "My Give A Damns Busted," along with "Whos Crying Now" (Patrick Jason Matthews/George Teren) and "Where Were You" (Jo Dee Messina/John Bettis/Wayne Kirkpatrick) are songs that deal with broken relationships and the empowerment brought on by the choice to move on.
"Managing relationships in todays world is so hard," said Jo Dee. "Its funny in fact. We all spend so much time and energy chasing what we think matters at the time, but the truth is that what really matters are the simple things our family, friends and loved ones. Amazing when you realize that just living to see another day is the ultimate gift."
Jo Dees optimism is infectious and it is optimism that can be felt in many of the songs on Delicious Surprise. "Life Is Good," (Jo Dee/Mark Selby) is an upbeat, pop-infused track that reminds us to "grab on to today," and to appreciate the simple things in life. "Ive got my two feet on the ground, Im breathing in and breathing out. Life is good." But its the albums title track (Beth Hart/ Glen Burtnik) that offers the essence of Jo Dee the dreamer who understands that tenacity and audacity are the keys to achieving.
"To me, the delicious surprise in life is the dreaming, getting there, without limits, without putting up boundaries, just having faith and working hard. Dreams are meant to be followed and if your heart speaks it, then it doesnt matter how far-fetched it seems. You have to believe."
Born in Holliston, Massachusetts, Jo Dee was first attracted to country music after hearing the recordings of Alabama and Hank Williams, Jr. As for her love for country music, it grew as fast as her respect for its heroes. Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, the strong women of country, that wrote and sang from the heart, and Reba McEntire, the hard-working, blue-collar girl whom Jo Dee related to best. At six, Jo Dee had her first public performance and from there on she was hooked. Thirteen brought a band that she had formed and more experience performing throughout clubs in the Northeast. Jo Dee did what she had to, to perform - booking and marketing her own shows, lugging gear and keeping the books. At 19, she made the difficult decision to move to Nashville. She didnt know a soul, had no grand plan, but what she did know, was that she wanted to sing. It was there that Jo Dee would lay down roots and chase her dream.
In 1996, she released her self-titled debut, produced by Byron Gallimore and Tim McGraw. The album gave Messina two Top 10 hits and set the stage for her breakthrough, Im Alright. Released in 1998, the first three single releases from the album all went to #1 - "Bye Bye," "Im Alright," and "Stand Beside Me," as well as a fourth single, "Lesson In Leavin," which peaked and stayed at #2 for seven consecutive weeks. In 1999, Jo Dee released Burn, her first #1 album. The multi-platinum effort, contributed two more #1s to Jo Dees collection, the huge crossover hit "Bring On The Rain" and "Thats The Way," as well as two other Top 10s "Burn" and "Downtime." Messina went on to release her favorite Christmas songs on A Joyful Noise, released in 2002, and later a Greatest Hits collection that debuted at #1 on the charts, her second #1 album.
"My greatest hope is that somewhere, somebody will hear this record, and find in it what Ive found in music my entire life," said Jo Dee. "Reassurance, understanding, inspiration, strength and compassion."
And that sentiment is what you get from the opening bars of Delicious Surprise. "Im Not Going Down," (Shaunna Bolton/ Kevin Savigar) the albums first track, is as defiant and energetic as Jo Dee herself. It is an appropriate place to start, again for Jo Dee, because no doubt she will continue to carry that intensity wherever she goes. Make no mistake, Jo Dee Messina is here to stay and despite all that she has been through she stands strong and defiant, with a clear sense of her purpose and passion. Life is good for Jo Dee, but dont ask her about it, listen.
IN HER WORDS, NOT OURS
Ive been fortunate in life to be able to do what I love most?to make music. But when the lights go up and when the crowds swell, when the cameras roll and when the band plays, there is one thing and one thing only that matters?the song. We figured that it would be fun for me to give you some of my thoughts about the songs on Delicious Surprise. Thanks to the writers that contributed their talents, thanks for reading and thank you for letting me perform. Here they are:
Im Not Going Down (Shaunna Bolton/Kevin Savigar)
This was one of the first songs I found for this record. It was an obvious choice. When I heard it, it not only made me want to run for miles, but it sounded like my life. It inspired me. Its message was fantastic. No matter what the circumstances, bounce back. I had to record it.
Someone Elses Life (John Bettis/Chris Farren/Danny Wells)
I dont think I know of anyone who can say that they havent, at least once, looked around and wished that they could be in someone elses shoes even if it were for just one day. I loved that concept, that fantasy, and I loved the drive of the song.
Delicious Surprise (Beth Hart/Glen Burtnik)
"I guess its all for the takin, I think its all yours and mine." Its the dreamers theme song and no song captures who I am, better. "See it and believe." The lyric is so inspiring. The first time I heard it I wanted to scream it from a mountaintop as loud as I could.
It Gets Better (Jo Dee Messina)
I have been to that sad point in life, where all of my dreams have seemed to fade. But I realized that what really matters are the things that cannot be taken from you. I learned that we are never alone in our pain. That we have to feel it, to live through it, and to know that it does get better. I simply had to share that sentiment.
Whos Crying Now (Patrick Jason Matthews/George Teren)
In a word, its sassy. I love it. Listen to this song and tell me you havent said or wished or thought exactly the same thing.
My Give A Damns Busted (Tony Martin/Tom Shapiro/Joe Diffie)
Every once in a while you have to say it. When the bull gets deep and the lies are no longer believable. I let out a belly laugh when I first heard this song. It
was funny in the sense that it sounds like just like me. What better reason then to have recorded it?
Too Late To Worry (Danny Wells/Anthony Smith/Ron Harbin)
I liked the story behind this song. The girl, the guy, the rumors. Not as if I would know about rumors. Its such a cleverly written song, particularly its lyrics.
Life Is Good (Jo Dee Messina/Mark Selby)
It took some time, but I finally realized life wasnt about stature or material things it was about living. The song has a simple message. Breathe in and breathe out. What a blessing.
Sometimes Love Is Just Not Enough (Jo Dee Messina/Mike Reid)
Following the end of a nine-year relationship, it helped me to deal with some of my pain and some of the emotions. I guess after something like that happens, you feel the need to blame someone. I realized that sometimes its really nobodys fault. I hope this song helps someone, who might be in that situation, to understand that.
Where Were You (Jo Dee Messina/John Bettis/Wayne Kirkpatrick)
I wrote this when I was at rock bottom. I needed a friend and those who were there for the good times jumped ship on me. How sad. I guess you can feel the anger in the song, but thankfully Im over that now.
I Wear My Life (Shaye Smith/Christi Dannemiller/Katrina Elam)
The song is who I am. There are no secrets. If you get to know me, you know where Ive been in life. And wow, what a trip its been.
You Were Just Here (Troy Verges, Brett James, Hillary Lindsay)
The first time I heard this song, it was just a few months after September 11th. It bowled me over. Its so heartfelt. It still blows me over to the point that when I listen to it I forget that Im singing it the message is so strong.