These days, country music's female acts struggle to earn airplay, headlining slots and festival gigs -- but  when Jo Dee Messina was finding success in the '90s, the dynamic was entirely different.

"When [my debut single] "Heads Carolina, [Tails California]" came out, it was me and Martina [McBride] and Sara Evans and Stephanie Bentley, Shania Twain, Faith Hill ..." Messina points out, adding that although male artists may dominate today, it's all part of the natural back-and-forth of the pendulum.

"It's like, 'Guys, it ebbs and flows. Just hang in there. It doesn't have to be instant,'" Messina continues, speaking about her advice for younger female artists frustrated by the lack of representation on country radio.

Still, the singer admits when she was a young artist, she probably wouldn't have taken her own advice: "Spoken by someone who had to have everything instantly!" she adds with a laugh.

In many other ways, too, Messina has been in the music industry long enough to watch her career come full circle. For example, Carrie Underwood performed Messina's 1996 song "Because You Love Me" as a semi-finalist on Season 4 of American Idol in 2005. Fourteen years later, in 2019, both Underwood and Messina performed on the Nissan stage during CMA Fest.

"It's so full circle. It's like, beyond anything I can think of," Messina goes on to say, adding that Underwood's version of "Because You Love Me" is among the most memorable covers of her own songs she's ever heard. However, she admits, early on in her career, there was one artist that she desperately hoped wouldn't cover her songs.

"I remember when "Heads Carolina" came out, it was out for, like, a year, and Garth [Brooks] was doing songs that he loved," she recalls with a laugh. "It was like, 'Oh, he wants to cut "Heads, Carolina."' I was like, 'Noooo! No one will ever remember that I cut that song if he cuts it!'"

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