Jo Dee Messina tells Billboard that from the moment her album Me was released in 2014, she noticed a trend. The majority of her fans were taken with the energetic “He’s Messed Up.” So, as the singer begins a New Year, she does so with the track as her new single.
“It was a decision that was pretty much dictated by the fans,” she says. “It was the best-selling song off the album on iTunes. It was what they want to hear. The song is so much fun because several of the fans actually sing on the record. Those that are doing background vocals were actually Kickstarter backers, and they came to town to be a part of the record. So the song is really all about the fans.”
She says that when she began to write the track, she really wanted to collaborate with one of pop music’s biggest stars. “When I first started the idea, Pink was coming through town, and I wanted to get together with her and write it. That ended up not happening due to scheduling, so I finished it myself,” she says.
Even though the song expresses a degree of frustration with the male demographic, Messina clarifies that it’s not just women who are identifying with the song. “They all laugh,” she says. “I did it for a radio station, and some of them were saying, ‘Oh, my God. You’re singing about me.’ But, really, they’ve all been good-hearted about it, because a lot of them know girls like that.”
Releasing Me on her own — after a long stint with Curb — has been a bit of a learning curve, but she looks at it all as an education. “I think a lot of the learning stuff for me has been behind the scenes — a lot of administrative stuff like paying the musicians, registering your songs, getting all of the publishing information. But it wasn’t a horrible experience; it was just like, ‘OK, now this needs to be done.’ Songs have to be coded, you need your releases. It’s all been very interesting for me.”
Another project Messina is involved with is the March 17 release of the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to Mom. “It’s 101 stories about people paying tribute to their mother,” she says. “What’s amazing to me is how different the stories are. I wouldn’t look at my mother the way you would look at yours, so there are a lot of different perspectives on what people consider a mom figure in their life and what they are grateful for.”
Messina admits that motherhood is something she looks at a little differently — now that she is one. “It’s a weird transition,” she admits. “I just feel like I have two kids that I have to keep alive and hope that they are raised to become good people. It does give you a perspective that all these people who walk around and they blame their parents for this or for that need to realize that their parents were just good people trying to get through life the best way they could and we showed up.”
Messina has also become active as a Beach Body coach, working with her fans to lose weight as well as help others get healthy. She says she is enjoying participating in that, and that it has helped her a lot, too. “I had my kids, and you go through the first couple years of their life where you have no sleep. You eat macaroni and cheese or cheese crackers or cheese sticks. It all revolves around cheese. It’s really neat now to be able to take time to focus. My cousin was a Beach Body coach and she said ‘Try this program with me.’ It simplified everything. You can eat healthy and it not all be pre-packaged food. For 30 minutes a day, you can make a change in your body. I thought, ‘I love this. This is really cool. Let me see if other people want to do this with me.’ So, we’re in the midst of a challenge right now called ‘The Twenty-One Day Fix,’ and in the first round, people submitted pictures. The before and after pictures of these everyday people are so dramatic. It’s really neat.
“I’ve always kind of eaten healthy. But, maybe I wasn’t eating the amount of fruits I needed, for example. Do you eat two fruits a day? I eat salads, but did I have three servings of vegetables a day, or four servings of protein? It’s about getting all those in each day. That’s the biggest challenge.”
Messina plans to hit the road with a vengeance this year. She’ll be performing at the Jan. 25 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio. Being in front of a live crowd continues to drive the singer. “There’s always a new energy out there, and that’s even more so now with the new music, and the fact that I am writing more. I’m really loving it as much as ever.”