Jo Dee Messina Made A Surprise CMA Awards Appearance For The First Time In 20 Years

Jo dee messina country music
Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

This world needs more Jo Dee Messina.

And thankfully, a special collaborative performance brought this ‘90s country queen out of a twenty-year hiatus and back to the CMA stage last night!

Jo Dee was the original vocalist on the 1996 song, “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” and Cole Swindell took that notion and reimagined it for his current hit “She Had Me at Heads Carolina.”

The song finds the narrator diving head over heels for a woman after her selected karaoke song is “Heads Carolina, Tails California.”

The name of the song was an immediate attention grabber on his recent Stereotype album, and Cole has had sweeping success with the song mostly due to its reference to Jo Dee. Cole even reached out to Jo Dee to be part of his music video for the song, but when he decided to collaborate with Jo Dee for a duet version, he was doing things right.

Bringing Jo Dee out on a live stage for a version of the duet was the final piece of the puzzle, and even after a long-standing period of sitting out the CMA Awards, viewers definitely held their breaths for her possible surprise appearance.

Cole kept us on our toes, and had us nervous when he reached the final chorus without Jo Dee hitting the stage, but luckily for us that seems to have been the plan all along, and it was a riveting round of applause when she did hit the stage, looking and sounding as amazing as 1996.

For many of us, Jo Dee was central to our early connection and love of country music, so to see her do her thing on stage again is truly incredible after all this time. Jo Dee’s last performance at the CMAs came in 2002.

This one easily snags performance of the night for me.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock