It is difficult for adults to imagine seeing a blade of green grass, a sunset or a sunrise for the first time. Country singer and songwriter Jo Dee Messina says through the eyes of her baby boy, Noah, she's seeing things anew. His wonderment inspired her to write "That's God," the first single off of her forthcoming album, Unmistakable.
"There is no cynicism in a child's eyes," Messina says. "Noah inspires me every day."
She's bubbly and excited sitting in her Nashville home office—her son, husband and little dog by her side. She smiles and points out the window, saying: "My mom lives just across the street. Family is everything."
As is her music. Unmistakable, which will be released April 15, is her first studio album in five years. And no, she didn't take a break. She's toured and been in the recording studio consistently. If fact, much of the new album was written a few years ago; however, much to her frustration, the release kept being postponed by the record label. In the meantime, she got married and had Noah. When asked if she's the perfect mom, she laughs. "Who is? We're just people doing our best to get through life. I'm learning every day. It's given me a new perspective."
Messina is getting into top shape by jogging with a trainer every day to loose her baby weight and get ready for a year of touring. She hits the road March 11 in Missouri with dates booked through October, including a five-night, seven-show residency at New York City's Feinstein's at the Regency with just a piano and four backing musicians, March 16–20. In these intimate shows, she'll take requests and chat with the audience. "No two shows are the same," she says. "I really get to connect with the fans." Her husband and baby boy will of course be on the road with her.
Messina moved from the Northeast to Nashville at age 19 to try her hand at a singing career. Her mother, who has always been supportive, gave Messina $500, all she had, and told her to follow her dream. Messina released her debut self-titled album in 1996 and has since sold more than 5 million records and received countless awards.
As an artist, she is CEO of her own brand and employs a number of people, including her band. In 2009, the touring market was down 30 percent due to the plummeting economy, and Messina says she sold a number of assets to keep her people employed.
She's also been very active in a number of charities, including Harvest Hands Community Development, a nonprofit dedicated to improve life for the citizens of South Nashville. Messina has enabled donations to Haiti relief organizations through her official website. As her the lyrics off her new single state: "When people make a difference just being how they are / Or when someone wants to lend a helping hand / That's God."