20 Questions for Jo Dee Messina

A few days before releasing her Greatest Hits, Jo Dee Messina called CMT.com to answer questions from her fans. Here, she talks about the importance of sleep, her fondness for Tim McGraw and George Strait and her weakness on the carnival midway.

1. What is your favorite part of your tour bus?
My bed! I don’t get to see it as much as I’d like to.

2. Do you pick out all your clothes, and what kind of places do you shop?
Ah! It is absolutely amazing how many people it takes to pick out an outfit! There is a team of people that try to decide on what I wear, as far as television appearances and photo shoots. But you know I picked it out if I’m wearing sweatpants. Like, right now, I’m wearing camouflage pants, New Balance running sneakers and a shirt that I think must be part of pajamas, actually. If it’s rugged and baggy, I picked it out, and if it’s fancy, the team picked it out! (laughs)

3. How do you pronounce your name? Is it like Jody, or is there a pause between Jo and Dee?
I once said it was JoDee, one word. And then my mother corrected me and said, “Your name is Jo Dee. You were named after your uncle Joseph Dunlop. And they used to call him Joe D.”

4. What’s the last really good movie you saw?
I don’t see a lot of movies when I’m working. It all depends on what you mean by “really good.” Like, “really intense good” would be A Beautiful Mind. “Really good funny-wise” or a lighthearted chick flick would be … Just Married was kind of cute. I don’t know, I’m not a big moviegoer. I just work too much.

5. What would you be doing if you hadn’t become a singer?
I’d probably still be in the music business. A writer, producer or something. Because I’ve done music all my life. It’s really all I know, and it’s what I’m the most passionate about.

6. So many country artists are going on voice rest. What do you do to keep your voice in good shape?
I sleep. (laughs) It’s weird because I’ve read about this, and it’s so wild. When I was between 12 and 19, I’d sing four to six nights a week, for four hours a night. The one thing and only thing that I have found for me — and I don’t want to upset any doctors. The lemon doesn’t work. The sprays don’t work. The cough drops don’t work. Nothing works for me but sleep. The hot tea. Look, your voice is tired because it’s tired. Sleep, and rest it. Sleep heals a lot of things.

7. Are you a morning person or a night person?
You know, I’m neither. I’ve been getting up early to run, but I can’t believe my eyes are open at that point in the day. And then I can’t get to sleep at all, so let’s say I’m a night person.

8. Why didn’t you get to release the new album you made with Tim McGraw?
The record label wanted to release a greatest hits package.

9. If you had a chance to do a duet with a female pop star, who would it be?
Bonnie Raitt. I love her. I think she’s cool, too cool for school. She totally rocks.

10. Who is your favorite all-time country singer?
Ooh. Ooh. I may have to pass on that because the list is so long. Tammy WynettePatsy Cline … All the gutsy women. I would say all the gutsy women out there are the ones I’ve been drawn to for some reason, and it reflects in my music to this day. … Loretta Lynn — I know that sounds crazy, as sweet as Loretta is, but it’s like “You ain’t woman enough to take my man!” Oh yeah! So, all the gutsy women.

11. Which music video was the most fun to make?
The most fun … The most fun … Mmm … “Bye Bye,” “I’m Alright,” “Bring on the Rain” and “That’s the Way.” Those would be my four picks, and I can’t just pick one. Sorry.

12. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish my legs were longer. I run six miles a day, and it takes me forever! My legs are like three or four inches long! So, I would lengthen my legs because I’m so short.

13. Do you set goals when you run, or do you just run until you get tired?
I will be very honest. I run not because I enjoy it, but I run to try to stay in shape. I do set goals for myself. I have a goal for the fall. I’d love to do, if not this year, then next year, a triathlon. But — big but, big, big, big but — I have to teach myself to swim that distance. It’s over a mile.

14. Who do you think is the sexiest male country singer right now?
(whispers) Tim McGraw. Isn’t that awful? That’s like saying that about my brother. Wait a minute. That could be misconstrued. … Tim. I think he is! (laughs.) In a sisterly way! (laughs.)

15. What is it like being friends with Tim McGraw? Is he as nice in person as he is in front of a camera?
Oh, God, yeah. I used to always say this early on, in both of our careers, but the tough-guy image is … you’d be surprised to know how tender and kind he is. I think since he and Faith got together, and the girls have come along, the public has gotten to see that wonderful side of him, of being that loving, caring, passionate guy.

16. What did you enjoy most about touring with George Strait?
Just being a part of that show. I went to see George Strait when I was 13 years old. My best friend and I were actually talking about that just this morning. He was like a god — even back then! It was just a very proud spot for me to be touring with him. I was actually too scared to approach him many times. I’d just say hello every now and then, but I didn’t want to bug him.

17. How many pets do you have and what are their names?
Oh, man, get your pen out. I have two cats, Midnight and Tiger, named by my fiancé’s children when they were younger. I have eight dogs. Ready? Gizmo, Fancy, Travis, Buddy, Alicia, Bella, Russell and Willy. I got a rabbit, and I keep a couple of horses on my property. They don’t belong to me, but I keep them all here. The rabbit was an Easter present the kids got me six years ago. I’ve got the oldest living rabbit, I think. I had this hutch made for him, but it’s like eight feet long and three-and-a-half feet high. It’s like a condominium.

18. In “Bye Bye,” you sing about having your lead foot down on the accelerator. Just curious if you ever received any citations from the police.
I have gotten a few speeding tickets, and one time, it was really late at night — it was 3 o’clock in the morning, and there are always deer that cross the road. So I was creeping along because I didn’t want to hit a deer. And I got pulled over for going too slow. (laughs)

19. What kind of cookies are your favorite?
If I had to pick a favorite, probably Oreos. Or M&M cookies or the half-and-half cookies. The kind you get at the bakery with half chocolate frosting. Please don’t bring these to my show. (laughs)

20. When you play at the fairs, do you ever ride the carnival rides?
Sometimes I do. I try to stay away from the midway though because fried dough is my weakness.