In 1997 there was a new, powerful female voice in country music that dominated the charts with such songs as “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” “Bye-Bye,” “Because You Love Me,” “Stand Beside Me,” “Bring On The Rain,” and many more. That voice belongs to Jo Dee Messina and she’s coming back to Maine to perform at the Waterville Opera House on Sunday, Sept. 6, as she tours in support of her 2014 album “Me” on Dreambound Records. Her first time in the state was when she was touring in support of her self-titled, debut album and I was so taken by her style and sound that I requested an interview. Seeing Messina’s returning, I wanted to chat with her again to find out what has been happening in her life since — she called me from her Nashville home on the Aug. 12.

Q: Do you realize that it’s been 18 years since last we spoke?

Messina: Oh, you must have been my first interview ever.

Q: You were playing at the Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach back in 1997.

Messina: That was with Travis Tritt and Hank Jr. — the “Fruit of the Loom Tour,” right?

Q: On the money, and you’re coming back up to Maine again. But between those two shows you probably have been here for other performances, I assume?

Messina: A couple of times, yeah.

Q: Have you played at the Waterville Opera House before?

Messina: I have not, no.

Q: Well, Joan Baez called it one of the best-sounding venues she’s ever played, so I think you will enjoy yourself there.

Messina: Good deal. Well, if she says it’s good, it’s got to be good.

Q: What can folks expect when you hit the stage?

Messina: Lots of fun. We’ll be doing the hits, we have a new album we’ll be bringing with us and then we have even newer stuff that hasn’t even been recorded yet; we’re keeping it busy.

Q: So this tour is in support of “Me”?

Messina: It is, yeah, but we tour constantly so it’s not strictly like one album. That happens to be my new record and we happen to be touring.

Q: Is “Me” the first album you’ve released on your own label?

Messina: Yeah, but it was unintentional. I was writing music and posting it on (my website) and then the fans started pushing me for an album but in order to release something on iTunes it has to be on a label, so I created a label. The fans voted on the songs and picked the singles and they made it happen.

Q: Wow, that’s got to be very gratifying for you.

Messina: It is. You know, it’s great that there are people out there that support and are excited about the music and still want to hear from me. If I believed what the folks in Nashville said, I don’t really know that I’d still be singing, you know? They’re on to the new, young, shiny thing, but the people are the ones driving my whole career so it’s the public’s call.

Q: I understand that this was funded through Kickstarter.

Messina: Yeah, the fans are the ones that drove it. They wanted a record and they made sure we got the funding for it.

Q: Well, you also have quite a string of hits to draw upon, as well, from your earlier works so you can probably put together a fairly comprehensive, good over-view of what you’ve done over the years, when it comes to your live show, that is.

Messina: Oh, yeah, and it’s great because you can see people there from 8 to 80. And everybody has a memory from one song or another — I mean, it’s just fun. We have a really good time.

Q: What kind of backing band do you have with you, or are you solo?

Messina: Oh no, no — I’ve got five guys on stage with me: guitar, bass, drums, keys and a utility player, all of whom sing backup. They have to be able to sing. But it’s nothing fancy just a real good show. A lot of these guys have been with me for years and years.

Q: Well, that’s good because you know what to expect and they do, too.

Messina: Yes, exactly.

Q: Do you have any thoughts about a follow-up to “Me”?

Messina: Well, yes. I mean I’m constantly writing and slowly but surely piecing something together.

Q: Any idea when it’ll be out?

Messina: I do not.

Q: This label of yours, Dreambound Records, do you have any plans of signing other artists to it?

Messina: Oh no, no. No way, Jose. It’s not an actual label, that is not my dream. I’m a musician and a writer and an artist, I don’t want to be a record mogul, by any means.

Q: I think you’ve probably had your fill of those.

Messina: Yeah. No thanks.

Q: Seeing you’ve never been to this venue before, is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article?

Messina: Come on out, bring your friends, it’s a blast, even if it’s someone whose never heard my stuff it’ll still be a great time, there’s just stories in there for everybody. Who knows what’s going to pop up that day?

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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