Jo Dee Messina, one of country music's most congenial performers who has had a long string of hits, makes a return to Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe tomorrow.
She's back with her popular "Music Room" series, during which she takes fans' requests, tells stories, and likely has some special surprises.
Messina said she is looking forward to returning to the venue, which is her third time performing here.
"We love it there," she said in a phone interview from her home near Nashville. "The people who run the place are so nice. The state is nice. The view is awesome. The audience is fantastic."
She said the Music Room series has become a big success since she began two years ago. "It was such a great experience last time," she said. "We do it in the fall and the beginning part of the year."
It consists of a living room setting in which Messina performs.
There's a lot of new things happening in the country star's life in the past two years.
For starters, she has a WD-40 endorsement deal.
She has a new single coming out in the fall. She has to wait for permission from the label to announce it, but she's hoping to be able to mention it at the concert.
She'll be a guest on a major talk show in November.
She has more new music coming out.
Messina said probably the biggest thing to happen is the birth of her son, Noah Roger Deffenbaugh, on Jan. 12, 2009. She said the toddler has drastically changed her priorities.
"Being a mother puts it all into perspective," she said. "You find out it is important to be home as well as being on the road. You don't have to say 'yes' to everything.
"My life was dedicated to my career until I met my husband (businessman Chris Deffenbaugh). Now, I take time and sit on the pack porch. I love my family."
Messina is best known for the hit songs "Heads Carolina, Tails California," "I'm Alright," "Bring on the Rain," "That's the Way," and "My Give A Damn's Busted."
Of her career, Messina remarked, "I love what I do and I think that kind of shows. And it's not 'Hey, look at me.' It's 'Let's go out and have fun.'"
She has taken advantage of her career to raise money for various charities including St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Tennessee. She also has a program called "One Million Doors," in which she works to help dreams come true. Presently, she trying to help build a school in a town outside of Nashville.
More details about "One Million Doors" can be found on her Web site, www.jodeemessina.com .
"At every opportunity, I try to help somebody," she said.
She said this has always been her trait. She told the story about as a little girl, "I used to steal cookies to give to neighbor kids." She clarified that she stole the cookies from her mom.
One of the things Messina has done at every Penn's Peak appearance is jog down and then back up Kattner's Mountain, visiting the town of Jim Thorpe.
"I might have to walk this year," she said. "I have fun."
She said she still does a lot of running, and last weekend competed in a 5K race that was part of a marathon.
An interesting story she told was of a recent trip to Los Angeles. She said, "It's fun, but sometimes it's not. On that trip to L.A., we went out to eat and got slammed by the paparazzi."
Messina noted that such aggressiveness by photographers isn't as common in country music.
Of long range plans, the country singer said, "I would love to have my record come out and do 100 shows a year. I would love to do TV stuff. I would love to do a duet with Bonnie Raitt."
Her biggest goal?
"It would be a James Taylor Christmas concert."
(Editor's Note: The concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door. In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Penn's Peak is giving away 50 Breast Cancer Awareness gift bags at the door. Inside these bags you'll find a small variety of assorted giveaways to enjoy, as you show your support for the fight against Breast Cancer.)