Jo Dee Messina’s Christmas Wish Comes True

Like millions of others, Jo Dee Messina is dreaming of a white Christmas. And it’s likely that she’ll get one — because she’s spending the holidays with her entire family in wintry New England.

“It’s been a few years since we’ve all been able to wake up on Christmas morning together,” Messina tells CMT.com, “and one of my biggest dreams is coming true this year. I’ve actually rented an inn in New Hampshire and we’re all flying in from all over the country. We’re gonna spend a few days before Christmas together and then wake up together on Christmas morning. All we need is a little snow!”

When the time comes for caroling around the fireplace, Messina will surely know all the words. Her newest album, A Joyful Noise, collects 10 Christmas classics, as well as two new holiday songs. She recorded it in Nashville in July, with Brent Maher co-producing. Vince Gill and Kenny Rogers joined the festivities as well.

Messina will appear on CMT Most Wanted Live on Friday (Dec. 13), singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

“I definitely had an idea of what I wanted it to sound like in the studio before I brought even one musician in,” Messina explains. “I wanted it to sound like I was sitting in your living room singing to you. I wanted it to have a very intimate sound and I wanted it to be very natural. By that, I mean the vocal is not processed a lot. There’s not a lot of heavy production. It’s very raw. It’s very organic sounding.

“It’s just me singing, doing the Christmas songs in the traditional way,” she continues. “I didn’t want to take the Christmas songs we had listened to growing up and then rearrange them so they sounded strange and different. To me, the songs of the holidays are like sacred ground. I tried to keep it very organic and keep the songs the way we remembered them as kids. We did them in a very classic manner.”

Messina is taking her Christmas spirit on the road for a handful of concerts that blend her hits (such as “Bye Bye” and “Bring on the Rain”), Christmas favorites and material from a new album slated for completion this winter. A new single, “Was That My Life,” will be released in early 2003. On Jan. 13, she’ll be attending the American Music Awards, where she’s nominated for favorite female artist in the country category.

But in the meantime, silver bells and sleigh rides are dancing in Messina’s head.

“It’s a time of dreaming and imagination and kids and magic, and so I’m hoping we can capture that in the show,” she says about her love of the holidays. “I think it’s the whole vibe about Christmas. Everyone lays their differences down and puts all that stuff off to the side and takes a look back at all the wonderful things we have. At least that’s the way my family has always done it. It’s always been a time when we look back on the year and thank God for the wonderful things that have come our way.”

Craig Shelburne has been writing for CMT.com since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.