REVIEW: Jo Dee Messina Live in Miami

Jo Dee Messina definitely underestimates herself when she sings the words “I’m Alright.” The definition of “alright” is satisfactory; acceptable; reliable; good. Jo Dee is leaps and bounds above “alright.” Jo Dee is phenomenal; extraordinary; remarkable; sensational. Just when you thought you signed, sealed, and delivered your list of top vocalists to ever exist, we insist that you add one more name to the top of that list!

On Saturday night, December 21, we were fortunate enough to be in Jo Dee’s presence in Miami, Florida, for a “holiday show” in a most intimate setting. Despite the fact that we had quite the scare on the way home from the show (which involved a homeless man, a bottle of windshield cleaner, and his refusal to let go of our windshield wiper until we opened the window in a terribly dangerous part of town to hand him his “dolla”), we had the night of our lives!

During the show, Jo Dee sang some old hits, songs off her upcoming album, Me, and some obligatory Christmas tunes. Just when the audience thought that we heard the best of Jo Dee’s vocals, the next song started and we were bewildered once again. Using hand signals to cue her band as to what the next song was, Jo Dee thrilled the audience with anticipated songs like “I’m Alright,” “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” “Bye Bye,” “My Give a Damn’s Busted,” “Bring on the Rain,” “Stand Beside Me,” and “Lesson In Leavin’.” The crowd excitedly sang along, finished lyrics, and hooted and hollered with the beginning and ending of each of these Jo Dee classics.

Naturally, Jo Dee would not do a show leading up to her new album without introducing some tracks that will be on this album, which is slated for a March release. If the three songs the Miami audience heard were an indication of how the entire album will be, get ready for Jo Dee’s best to date. Jo Dee shared the story behind the title track, “Me” (which can be found in our recent interview), and wow’ed the crowd with beautiful lyrics and vocals of perfection. We were also lucky enough to hear her latest single, “Peace Sign,” as well as “A Woman’s Rant” – two high energy songs with hilariously clever lyrics for the smart alecks in all of us. The lingering thought after hearing the three songs off of Me is “why can’t this album be in our collections NOW?!”

And, although the crowd emphatically urged Jo Dee not to continue singing Christmas music after her fantastic renditions of “Let It Snow” and “Sleigh Ride,” (hey, when you have Jo Dee Messina performing, you want to hear her incredible catalog of songs!) she did a flawless medley of Christmas classics, concluding with one of the most jaw dropping performances of “O Holy Night” that ever was. In the words of this Keepin’ It Country writer’s stepmother, “I KNEW she would kill that song!” Also keeping with the Christmas/religious aspect of certain portions of the show, Jo Dee told the audience that she was immensely touched by the Matt Maher song, “Lord I Need You,” after the hellacious year she and her family have experienced. She then brought the crowd to their feet with her cover of this moving piece of musical art.

In other notable moments during this show, Darlene Evans from WKIS 99.9 Kiss Country in South Florida requested from her seat in the audience that Jo Dee sing her power ballad “Because You Love Me.” After Jo Dee asked “what is with you guys and this song?!” she kindly appeased her fans with a stunning performance of one of her most powerful songs. Jo Dee was also amazed by one fan in the audience who requested “I’m Done,” a song that peaked on the Billboard Country Chart at Number 34, ecstatically stating “you guys are the best audience!” Jo Dee explained that she hopes she remembers the words, since she often forgets the words to songs she, herself, writes. Of course, Jo Dee was able to remember her lyrics and performed the song without a hitch! Lastly, Jo Dee covered Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” to end her show, after telling her fans that we should always follow our dreams and to keep in mind that the “first person through the wall always gets bloody.”

Jo Dee also took the time to interact with the audience, being as endearing as humanly possible. During this time, she shared that her inspiration for “I’m Alright” was Phil Vassar (the actual writer of the hit song); that her favorite color is purple (if you have a Jo Dee autograph, chances are it is in purple, or it may not be authentic!); and that her son asked for a gift from “wherever she was,” which she equated to a tree (and she qualified that statement rather quickly, promising that she had no intention of vandalizing her hotel). She also shared with us stories behind her most recent work, which included screaming babies and snoring husbands.

An inspired and inspiring artist is the best way to describe the unmistakably talented Jo Dee Messina. While she would say she is “cute and funny … and full of bologna,” we would say that she is personable, hilarious, humble, strong, and the type of person each of us should strive to be. Even though Jo Dee felt the need to mention her New England roots to a crowd of Miami Dol-Fans, the audience could not have been more tuned in, involved, and elated to be in that venue with the magnificent Jo Dee on stage.

All in all, the near death experience on the crazy streets of Miami was worth it to be able to say that we attended Jo Dee’s show. Consider the countdown on until we have Me in our hands, because this album will, undoubtedly, be one to keep on repeat. If you have the opportunity to see Jo Dee, even if it is in the sketchiest of areas, we encourage you to brave the dangers, be aware of your surroundings, and allow yourself to be enveloped by one of the greatest vocalists with whom you will ever share oxygen.

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