Perseverance and personality. Those are just two of the qualities Jo Dee Messina brought to Mississippi last night for the Jo Dee Messina & Friends event, sponsored by Kia of Meridian.
Suffering from a ruptured disc in her back didn’t stop the nine-time No. 1 artist from bringing an abundance of life to the Temple Theatre as she performed for an engaged and interactive crowd of fans, many of whom were clad in Jo Dee merchandise that spanned the duration of her lengthy career. Those fans were treated to an array of chart-topping hits, as well as newer songs and a yet-to-be-released tune; but it wasn’t just the music that made Meridian magical. It was the passion, determination, humor, humility, and honesty that a fan can only obtain at a Jo Dee event that made this particular show rank atop the “best concerts of 2016” list.
Admitting and embracing her flaws is just the beginning of the admirable traits that Jo Dee Messina possesses. When you couple this with the ability to translate feelings into music and transcend audience sympathy, empathy, and participation, a show takes on new life and a large venue turns into an intimate living room. Once you add in the stunningly pristine vocals of the pure powerhouse, a live Jo Dee experience reaches one of unfathomable heights.
Of course, Jo Dee is veteran enough to recognize that fans love to hear the hits, so her set list is built around bringing some of the most notable songs of the late nineties and early 2000s to cities across the country. While this may be expected when a fan walks in the door, it is always crucial for an attendee to expect the unexpected. Transitioning between songs with quick quips and stories that are akin to those heard at a stand-up comedy show, Jo Dee doesn’t just cause an audience to jump up and dance, she makes them double over laughing…and then brings them to their knees in prayer.
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Whether it is by admitting she is “a perfectly broken person” or revealing that her definition of fame is “it means people think you’re something that you’re not,” the larger than life singer-songwriter is able to reach out, touch an audience, relate to every member, and send them home with a “Lesson In Leavin'” and a lesson learned. The moral of last night and the message with which each person exited the theater was that the show must go on — personally and professionally — despite obstacles that stand in your way. If there is a mountain in front of you, climb it. If there is a door to unlock, turn the key. If your back causes you to “get stuck,” wait it out, keep on singing, and eventually you’ll be able to dance again.
And that is what Jo Dee, ruptured disc, excruciating pain, and all, did for the fans who showed up for her last night.
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Before allowing her tickled and touched audience to leave for the evening, Jo Dee closed the show with gospel song “Break Every Chain,” which ultimately brought the crowd to a standing ovation. During the twelve minute encore, Jo Dee stripped away her layers, divulged some of the insecurities she has carried with her since her childhood, and escaped in song, appearing to ever-so-briefly be excused from her physical pain to use her God-given gift to help alleviate the pain of others in the room. Digging deep into the depths of her soul, she cast her glance upward, reached toward the sky, and praised the one she has learned to count on in good times and in bad. While Jo Dee became lost in her worship, members of the audience began to rise, follow suit, and sing with her, likewise expressing their love for a higher power.
Soul. Jo Dee Messina brought soul with her tremendous vocals. She bared her soul with her heartfelt stories. She showed the depths of her soul with her tenacity to bring the best show possible to Mississippi, despite the pain she was experiencing.
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Soul. The audience member’s souls were touched by the artistry they witnessed. Their souls were soothed by her honesty and relatability. Everyone’s souls were inspired by the admittedly flawed superstar in their presence.
Soul. The miniature motorized car Jo Dee was able to take home for her sons (Noah, 7, and Jonah, 4), courtesy of the event promoter, Kia of Meridian.
Watch Jo Dee Messina’s powerful performance of “Break Every Chain” below, and visit her official website for upcoming tour dates so you, too, can experience a night of pure entertainment and unprecedented talent.
Photo credit: Sandel’ Cash