Photo: NBCJo Dee Messina has been embarking on quite a few exciting things in the past five years. The multi-platinum selling artist got married, had two children, started writing a mom-blog featured on Disney's popular parenting site Babble, and managed to train for a couple marathons throughout all of this. She also ended her contract with her longtime record label, where she'd spent virtually all of her nearly two-decade career.
So what's next? Try something else completely new and unexpected, of course! Messina decided to eschew the traditional route of joining a new label in favor of an unorthodox approach: Make her next album with the help and input of fans, via online creative funding platform Kickstarter.
"I've been on a major label for my entire career, and I finally have the opportunity to make any record I want," the 42-year-old singer explained. "And before going to sign with another label, I wanted to make a record with the people, with the fans, and have a little fun. Cut loose and record whatever it is that they want to hear."
Messina's goal is to raise $100,000 (which will cover all the various costs involved in recording an album--from engineering to studio rental), and she's offering exclusive content and creative incentives for those who want to back her campaign, which she's dubbed "My Time. Our Music."
And when we say creative, we mean it. Downloads and signed photos? Sure....of course...but with enough money to spare for the cause, you just may get to lace up your shoes and go for a 3-mile run with Messina, or receive a personalized lullaby written and recorded by her just for your tyke--or, if you're really dedicated, her husband has pledged to come over and cook you dinner right in your own kitchen!
Aside from all the fun, Messina is dead serious about having her fans help mold this release. She explained that she'll be bringing songs to the table for a "yea or nay" vote. What does she think will be the greatest challenge of this method? "Probably making everyone happy, but my attempt is to listen to the majority of people," she said. "I don't know--I probably won't know until I get there."
One question probably on some fans' minds: Did Messina have an option to remain with her old label, Curb, where she spent an undeniably successful run for so many years? "No," she states flatly, clarifying that leaving was her choice. "Things were just done there. That is so not a focus that we want to focus on."
At any rate, she's completely pumped about trying something brand-new, and related that the album--which she hopes to have out in September--will have a variety of influences. "There is a little bit of everything. I have a song that I wrote for [pop star] Pink, so it's real rockin' obviously. The first single off the record is bluegrassy-sounding. So it's all over the place. But it's totally because I'm not limited to one specific thing--I can do whatever my voice wants to do!"
Sounds like a good time? Messina thinks so. "I just know that I wanted to do something outlandish, and this is it," she noted with a laugh.
"You know it's like being in a box forever and ever and ever, and and you step out of the box and are like 'where am I going to go?' Oh, here!"