Jo Dee Messina is doing better than all right
Saturday, Oct. 7, 2000 | 3:47 a.m.
LAS VEGAS – The last time Jo Dee Messina was a headliner in Las Vegas she played to about 700 people in the off-Strip Silverton hotel-casino’s Opera House during the 1998 National Finals Rodeo.
Friday night she debuted her third album in the Neon City as the first country star to perform in the newly opened, 7,000-seat Aladdin Theatre for Performing Arts.
What a difference two years makes.
“We’ve never been the first act to play anywhere,” Messina said during Friday afternoon’s rehearsal.
In between headlining at Vegas resorts, Messina played with her friend and mentor Tim McGraw and others in George Strait’s Country Music Festival at Sam Boyd Stadium and she opened for the legendary mother-daughter duo The Judds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The double-platinum redhead laughed as she reminisced about tripping in her heels while trying to walk through sand at a Texas Station beach party where she opened for crooner Sammy Kershaw in 1996.
That’s when she had two hits, “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” and “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore.”
And while she still plays her first hit on the road, she’s dropped “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore” in favor of her No. 1 hits off her sophomore album “I’m Alright.” Thanks to “Bye Bye,” “I’m Alright,” and “Stand Beside Me,” Messina’s lilting voice was heard on country radio stations more than any other woman singer in 1999.
“Country radio has been the foundation of my career,” she said, adding it was through radio that she gained all her fans. “I couldn’t get the fans’ support if it wasn’t for radio.”
Friday was Messina’s first performance since her appearance on the Academy of Country Music award show Wednesday, where “I’m Alright” was nominated for album of the year and she was nominated for female vocalist of the year.
It still hasn’t sunk in that she belongs at the CMAs despite winning last year’s prestigious Horizon Award.
“I feel like a fan with an all-access pass,” she said.
Even though she didn’t walk away with an award, Messina said she received an even greater honor. She got the chance to meet one of her idols – Merle Haggard – and to discover that he and his son are some of her biggest fans.
“It was like coming full circle,” she said. “I was listening to him in my little room 15 years ago thinking he’s the bomb.”
Friday’s performance was sort of a live dress rehearsal for her new tour that kicks off in February to promote her latest album “Burn,” Messina said.
“It’s overwhelming,” she said of her solo tour that is sponsored by Jerzees and features new choreography with four dancers.
With the tour, her third album shooting up the charts and a 5-carat engagement ring from her tour manager Don Muzquiz, the 30-year-old seems to be doing more than all right.
“These are the days I will always remember,” she said, quoting a line from one of her songs off her new album. “This is it.”
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