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Country star Jo Dee Messina performs at Salt Lake County Fair
Music » The country star will perform at Salt Lake County Fair.
First Published Aug 01 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Aug 04 2014 09:38 am

Country singer Jo Dee Messina has so many good things to say about Utah, she could practically write a commercial.

"This is what I love about Salt Lake: It’s designed for the family," she said. "I love the parks, how kids play everywhere and how everything is so family friendly."

At a glance

Don’t miss Messina

Country singer Jo Dee Messina performs a free concert to kick off the 2014 Salt Lake County Fair. Up-and-comer Dylan Scott opens.

When » Wednesday, Aug. 6, 6:30 p.m.

Where » Salt Lake County Equestrian Center, 2100 W. 11400 South, South Jordan; 385-468-3247

Admission » Free, but tickets are required for entry; $10 per car, available at any Mountain America Credit Union, Burt Brothers Tire & Services locations and the Equestrian Center

Let’s go to the fair

The 78th edition of the Salt Lake County Fair includes exhibits, contests, food, games, live music and more.

When » Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 6-9, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Where » Salt Lake County Equestrian Center, 2100 W. 11400 South, South Jordan

Admission » $10 per car; carnival tickets $18 in advance or $25

Events » Jo Dee Messina with Dylan Scott; Salt Lake Pops Orchestra and Jamestown Sound; Nathan Osmond; Scales and Tales reptile show; barnyard racers; demolition derby; Salt Lake County Star Search, Dutch oven cook-off; Moki Luau with Hawaiian dancers, rodeo and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams’ Apple Pie contest

More details » saltlakecountyfair.com or 385-468-FAIR (3247)

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What about the mountains?

"You take them for granted because you see them every day," she said. "Those mountains remind me of how small I am."

She’ll be able to take in those mountains as the featured performer at this year’s Salt Lake County Fair, which runs Aug. 6-9 in South Jordan. (See box for concert details.)

During her career, this bold redhead has collected nine No. 1 singles, including "Heads Carolina, Tails California" and "Bye, Bye." She was the Academy of Country Music’s top new female vocalist in 1998 and the Country Music Association’s Horizon award winner in 1999.

In March, she released her fifth studio album, "ME," on her newly formed label, Dreambound Records. It’s her first album since parting ways with Curb Records, the label that launched her career in 1995.

Messina co-wrote seven of the 12 songs and co-produced the album with Grammy Award-winning recording engineer Julian King, who has worked with other country greats including George Strait, Faith Hill, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.

The album was crowd-funded through Kickstarter; Messina raised more than her original $100,000 goal, making it one of the most successful campaigns to come out of Nashville.

During a recent interview from her home, the 43-year-old singer talked about why she parted ways with her former label, how fans contributed more than just money toward the new album and why’s she’s willing to go out of her way to perform in Utah.

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story continues below

What role did fans play in your new album?

I had a record label that would not release music for years; it was so scared to make a mistake that it did nothing. The last song I cut for them was "Better Dig Two," which became a huge hit for The Band Perry. After that, I asked them to let me go, I had too much music left. But [because of a noncompete clause] I couldn’t go sign with a big label. So I just started to write and post things on my website, not thinking that anyone was on the other end. I wrote a song, "Unbreakable," with a friend [Alyssa Bonagura] and asked fans to send me photos to go with it. The response was massive and we created a video using the photos people sent in. Each time I’d go into a writing session, I’d ask the fans, "What do you think of this song?" That became the process. It involved everyone from everywhere. That’s why the record is wide in variety, because we got so many different opinions. It really helped me connect with the people and hear what they thought.

Why did you decided to fund the album through Kickstarter?

When I got 11 songs, I decided that was enough to make a record. And at the time my cousin was living with me and he said, "Why don’t you do a Kickstarter? All my friends do that." It wasn’t easy. I didn’t want people thinking that I was just asking for money. We offered rewards for every level of donation, mailing out discs and posters. We spent a lot of money on postage.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?

It depends on the day. But the title song is a huge part of a book I’m writing that comes out on Mother’s Day.

Will we get to hear the new songs at your Aug. 6 show?

You know it. During the show, we share a lot of stories about the songs and life and we mix in a bunch of new songs with the old ones. We carry the album with us and stay after the show to sign for fans.

How did Salt Lake County get sandwiched between shows in Tennessee (Saturday, Aug. 2) and Alabama (Aug. 9)?

You are sitting in the middle of nothing. We’ll have to fly in the day of the show and fly back home afterward. But I’m so grateful to your city, I didn’t think twice about coming because the people there are awesome and radio in Salt Lake City has been good to me.


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