Jo Dee Messina Makes History at the Ryman Auditorium

Helen PocockReviews3 Comments


The Ryman Auditorium, often referred to as the mother church of Country music, holds a profound significance in the genre’s history and is revered by artists and fans alike. It serves as a mecca for artists aspiring to headline its stage, and on Saturday, April 27th, Jo Dee Messina’s dream of performing a headline show there finally came true. A momentous event for this household name in Country music.

Known for her chart-topping hits like “Heads Carolina, Tails California” and “I’m Alright,” Messina’s performance at the Ryman was long overdue but worth the wait. 

Expressing apprehension about the performance, Messina confessed her fear of playing the Ryman: “What if no one comes to see me!?” Yet, the night proved to be a triumph for both her and her band, many of whom were experiencing the Ryman stage for the first time. If you took a second to pull your eyes off of the main attraction of the night, watching the rapport of her band on stage, it was obvious that Jo Dee was not the only one revelling in such a memorable night.

The “Heads Carolina, Tails California 2” tour has graced venues all over the US but this performance was meticulously tailored for the Ryman stage, resulting in a sold-out show that underscored Messina’s enduring appeal and significance in Country music. With no support act, the audience was treated to an evening filled solely with Jo Dee Messina, her band, and surprise guests, a church choir from Gallatin, TN. A chance for her to showcase her much loved repertoire. 

From the moment she stepped onto the stage, it was evident that this was more than just a concert — it was a narrative, a journey through Messina’s life and career. She shared stories intertwined with snippets of her favorite songs, taking the audience on a heartfelt exploration of her musical influences and personal struggles. She performed hits like “Rumor Has It” by Reba and “Girls Night Out” by The Judd’s. Amidst the storytelling, Messina humorously teased the audience with the intro of “Heads Carolina, Tails California” only to pause and quip, “If I play that now, you’ll all be off to Garth Brooks’ bar after!”

In commemorating nearly three decades of her career in the industry, Messina graciously tipped her hat to her fan base. With a playful nod to those familiar faces and faithful supporters seated front and center, she quipped that they may have surpassed her in show attendance—an amusing testament to their fan dedication. She even took the time to sign t-shirts for fans mid show. 

As she recounted her journey from wide-eyed kid to seasoned artist, Messina’s smooth vocals filled the auditorium, captivating the sold-out audience, she didn’t miss a beat. Even during the quieter moments, such as when Messina debuted a new song, solo, on the baby grand piano — a poignant reflection on loss and resilience, it was song that took us through the heartbreak about how to find a way through life after a loved one’s passing, resonating deeply with listeners. 

“Finding a way to stop seeing your memory in every room. I’m doing my best just to do life after you”.

In addition to treating the audience to some of her new music, Jo Dee made sure to include all the fan-favorite classics we know and love. At one point during the show, she playfully remarked that they were aiming to have the crowd sing louder than the venue’s sound system. Well, I can confirm, they succeeded beyond measure! I might have even played a hand in that! 

The energy in the room was electric as everyone joined in, their voices resonating throughout the venue and filling the air with those all too familiar melodies. It was a truly heartwarming sight to see — smiles all around, with people of all ages singing along and enjoying every moment of the performance. In fact those moments just reminded me of the beauty of music. For those 2 hours we are spent sitting in the church pews of the Ryman Auditorium, we were taken away from political bias and other divisive views and placed firmly into an experience that united each and every person in there with their love of Country music!

Jo Dee’s performance at the Ryman was not just a concert; it was a testament to, not just her legacy in Country music, but her ability as an artist to command a stage and room.  For those acquainted with live performances, maintaining audience engagement during quieter interludes can sometimes prove challenging, often resulting in distractions such as restroom breaks or visits to the bar. However, as I looked around the pews, it became evident that this occasion was not one of those instances. The meticulous curation of the set ensured that these subdued moments were strategically placed, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the spectacle without interruption. This is something can can also be attributed to the work of her band and her MD.

In a poignant nod to her recent religious journey, one that Messina has been very open about in her performances over the past few years, she invited her church choir onto the stage to perform two Christian songs together, just the sound of the choir and Jo Dee taking the lead vocal while remaining seated at the piano. Religion runs strong through Country music, though it always seems to me that to bringing it to the forefront in this way is always risky at a live show. With that being said I think the tone of the evening that was set with it being more of a narrative about her personal and professional journey within music, not having it in there might have been a detriment to the goal of the performance.

As the evening came to a close she brought her band back to the stage for one last worship song before addressing the audience for the final performance of the night — the aptly named track “Bye-Bye,”. 

As I draw the curtains on this unforgettable event, I feel it is imperative to acknowledge not only Jo Dee Messina’s sensational band, whose tight performance set the stage ablaze, but also to the diligent team working tirelessly behind the scenes. Putting together a show of this caliber requires meticulous planning and seamless coordination, and it’s the collective effort of these dedicated individuals that ensures its success. The transitions from song to song felt seamless as a consumer and if there was any hiccups on or off stage it certainly was not felt by the audience!

While many times their contributions go unnoticed, the tireless dedication of these teams is the driving force behind every aspect of the production. Their passion and countless hours invested in bringing this vision to life are something we rarely recognise as a consumer. It takes a village to put on these shows and this night was no exception.

Overall, Jo Dee Messina’s historic performance at the Ryman Auditorium was a testament to her enduring legacy in Country music and a celebration of her journey from aspiring artist to seasoned performer. It was a night of music, storytelling, and spiritual reflection — a truly unforgettable experience for all in attendance.

3 Comments on “Jo Dee Messina Makes History at the Ryman Auditorium”

  1. Wow that is amazing. Jo Dee Messina is very much worth the honor she received. She loves her fans and they love her and her music.❤️

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