Three number one albums, 16 Top 40 hits and more than 5 million records sold worldwide. This is the impressive résumé of country music superstar Jo Dee Messina, who performs at Patchogue Theatre on October 15. This fiercely independent singer followed her own path to commercial success, and despite her fame she’s as down to earth as ever. As she gets ready to play Patchogue Theatre, Messina opens up about her songwriting inspiration, staying authentic and her upcoming EP, Masquerade.
What inspires your songs?
Life itself is the inspiration for my songs. Since I was a little girl I used to sit and create songs. I started to rely on songwriting as this therapeutic thing to help put my feelings into words. My songwriting process is that I see something that moves me, and I come up with an idea or saying, and then I start writing from there.
Why did you gravitate toward country music?
Country music for me was like, “Oh, someone gets what I’m feeling. Oh, this is real—they’re talking about me.” So that’s why, when people ask why the girl from Massachusetts got into country music, I say that I don’t think it matters where you’re from. It was real to me. It was relatable.
What have been some of the most memorable moments in your career so far?
The awards shows were fun and doing the CMA Fest, but I think the opportunity to go out and perform is the best for me. It’s blissful. There’s no sense of time when I’m on stage. It’s that euphoric feeling, and it doesn’t have to do with big crowds or little crowds—it’s all the music, the ideas coming together, and then being able to share it with the audience.
Who would you love to perform with?
James Taylor. He’s one of those legends that if I could, I would love to do some sort of Christmas show with him.
What’s next on your plate?
I have two little boys who are four and seven, so I want to raise them right. I’m still growing. I don’t feel that I’m where I’m supposed to be, and that I’m done. I thank God for today. I’ve seen so many places. I’ve done so much, and I never would have imagined it as a kid. Seeing what’s in store for me is kind of like your first time on a ride at Disneyland: You don’t know what to expect, but oh my gosh, it’s going to be fun!
What advice do you have for people new to the music business?
Know who you are, and be true to yourself. There are so many pictures of me that have never been used because I’m like, “That’s not me.” People aren’t going to see that when they run into me at the grocery store. Know who you are, and stay authentic and genuine. That’s really important.
Masquerade comes out later this year. How has your sound evolved on this EP?
Oh, it’s different! Fans will be able to tell. You’ll hear some of the songs from that EP in the show, and they’ll definitely be the songs that stick out from the set.
What are you most looking forward to about performing at Patchogue Theatre on October 15?
I love that area, and this time of year. It’s going to be so great. I share stories, and we have a blast on stage. We all love what we do.
Jo Dee Messina takes the stage at Patchogue Theatre, 71 East Main Street, Patchogue, on Saturday, October 15 at 8 p.m. For more information visit patchoguetheatre.org or call 631-207-1313.