By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media January 24, 2013

Jo Dee Messina is starting the year with a new record label and a fresh outlook on life and music.

She’ll bring that energy to the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles for an 8 p.m. show Friday.

Messina has charted nine No. 1 singles on the Billboard country music charts; including “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” “Bye, Bye,” “I’m Alright” and “Stand Beside Me.” She has been honored by the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music and has been nominated for two Grammy Awards.

This year, she’s writing and recording new material.

“I’ve already recorded four songs for an all-new album. So it’s been a lot of writing and recording, in the middle of touring and getting new music out to people,” she said. “It’s kind of like graduating from high school and having a world of opportunity in front of you, but with more wisdom. People are like, ‘Are you scared?’ I’m like, ‘Absolutely not. I can do whatever I want, wherever I want, write whatever I want, sing whatever I want — any type of music without someone saying, ‘Oh, that’s not you. You can’t do that.’ It’s a wonderful spot to be in.”

Don’t expect to her to write death metal just yet, but she does admit to writing all kinds of music, other than just country. Being off her old label gives her the freedom to do that, she said.

She does plan on releasing a new album this year, but plans on putting new music out on iTunes within the next month or so.

“We do all the new stuff live as well,” she said.

She has two sons, ages 4 and 1, who come out on the road with her.

“It can’t get any crazier,” she said.

Motherhood opened the doors to the world of mommy blogging; she writes for and for her own site,

The site reveals a “totally different” side of the singer, she said.

“It’s a human side. It’s not, ‘Oh my God, she’s a star;’ it’s ‘She made a total mess with that cookie batter.’ It’s relatable stuff. I had no clue was I was doing and (writing) was an outlet,” she said. “It’s not serious. It’s all sarcastic and funny. I don’t see me as a mother, because mothers are supposed to know everything and I have no clue.”

St. Charles audiences can expect to “hear all the hits, that’s for sure,” she said.

“We tell all the stories about what inspired me to write a song and … what drew me towards a song,” she said. “I get a chance to tell all the stories and (go) behind-the-scenes with the folks, because it’s a small enough venue where you don’t have to go out in front of 50,000 and just bang through the music. We share stories, I do the hits that people know, and we just have a blast. We totally involve the audience. People have a great time at the show and we have a great time. I love what I do and so does everyone on that stage and the energy is contagious.”