“Bring on the Rain” Brings on the Praise

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Jo Dee Messina ’s voice catches as she tells the story. It comes, she explains, from an e-mail sent to her fan club by a woman whose 4-year-old daughter had just undergone a chemotherapy treatment for cancer. As the mother, sick and distracted with worry, drove her daughter home, Messina’s “Bring on the Rain” was playing on the radio. The little girl listened to the song and then, picking up the first line from the chorus, said to her mother, “You know what, Mom? Tomorrow’s another day. I’m going to be OK.”

Although the party held Thursday (April 4) at BMI’s Nashville headquarters was to celebrate the fact that “Bring on the Rain” had recently topped Billboard’s country chart, the primary emphasis was on the song’s inspirational impact. It has crossed over to the adult contemporary charts and this week moved up into the Top 20.

Messina and the song’s co-writers, Billy Montana and Helen Darling, met with reporters before the party got underway. She said she “loved” the song from the moment she first heard it. “After [the terrorist attacks of] Sept. 11,” she added, “folks outside my camp started relating [the song] to that day. … Sometimes we hurt really bad, and we think nobody knows how we feel. The song is very comforting.”

“Bring on the Rain,” which features Tim McGraw on accompanying vocals, was nominated for a best country vocal collaboration Grammy and is now in the running for a vocal event of the year award from the Academy of Country Music. Messina said her schedule has been so tight that she hasn’t talked with McGraw since the ACM nomination was announced.

Up next for Messina will be the release of the single and music video, “Dare to Dream.” The song will also be included on the forthcoming Warner Bros. NASCAR-themed album, Inside Traxx. Messina said she will attend “a lot of races” to promote the project.

The singer has recorded two tracks for her next album and continues to write songs for it. Like its predecessors, the album will be co-produced by McGraw and Byron Gallimore. Part of the album process, she explained, is settling on a focus. “There’s a place where you sit back and say, ’Where do you go? How do you find a way to address things differently?'”

Asked for an update on her engagement to her road manager, Don Muzquiz, Messina joked, “We really are both in this race with Oprah [Winfrey] and Stedman [Graham] to see who can stay engaged the longest.”

Later at the party, C. Paul Corbin, BMI’s vice president of writer and public relations, presented Montana and Darling pewter cups acknowledging their song’s achievement, and Ed Benson, executive director of the Country Music Association, gave them certificates. “The song couldn’t have been timed better,” Benson remarked.

McGraw, who was sidelined with flu, sent Messina a letter of congratulations that said, in part, “mostly, I’m proud to call [you] my friend.”

While waiting to accept her awards, Darling stood near the lectern holding her 20-month-old son, Cameron. She wept during her brief acceptance speech, noting that she had had a second child only two months ago. A former recording artist for Decca Records, Darling praised Messina’s recording. “She did such a great job. I couldn’t have done it better myself.”

Montana told the celebrants that this was his first No. 1 song. “After this is over,” he said, “I’m going into postpartum depression.” He thanked his wife for standing by him during “the pizza delivery years.”

Wrapping up the proceedings, Messina said, “These guys [Montana and Darling] put their guts on a piece of paper, and it just hit home with so many people. I’m just the delivery person on the song. I’ve been such a fan of Helen’s for so long, I was afraid I couldn’t come close to her demo. It smoked.”

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.