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Jo Dee Messina weathers the storm in her new video

Story by Wendy Newcomer - Photo by Tim Campbell

Tomorrow's another day, and I'm thirsty anyway, so bring on the rain. Jo Dee Messina's been through tough times in her life - so it's fitting that she's singing these words in her latest single, "Bring On The Rain." It's also fitting that the song's video is overflowing with water - lots of water.

"I'm getting wet and dried, wet and dried, all day!" exclaims Jo Dee, relaxing in a Nashville film studio's makeup chair as stylist Melanie Shelley gets Jo Dee's hair ready for the next shot. "The dress I was just wearing is in the dryer so I can wear it in another scene."

Minutes later, Jo Dee's sitting on stairs with water gently cascading around her, while her song blares from nearby speakers. "Since the song is 'Bring On The Rain,' all the setups take place in the water," she explains. "There are all these natural scenarios: the rain, the river, the waterfalls. We go through all of the seasons with the song - kind of like life.

"We wanted to keep it simple," adds Jo Dee, "because this song has taken on so many meanings to so many different people. We wanted the song to translate to each person what it means to them."

"Bring On The Rain" developed a totally different meaning after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She recalls hearing it on a Nashville radio station, with audio news clips of the attacks interwoven in the song.

"I felt I was listening to someone else sing," she confides. "By being related to such a massive event, the song took on a different dimension. It wasn't like, 'Oh, that's my song and look what they've done.' It moved my heart."

The spirited performer knew she would record "Bring On The Rain" - which features harmonies by her buddy and co-producer, Tim McGraw - the minute she heard it. "It reminded me of those moments when you're feeling down or you hurt so bad you think no one else feels that way. Then you listen to this song and you realize, 'Oh man, somebody else does feel that way!' This song is hopeful and reassuring. It lets you know you're not alone."

Melanie begins to style Jo Dee's hair for the next scene. Fans seeing the video will notice there are seven inches less of Jo Dee's hair to style.

"I love it!" beams Jo Dee of her short, shaggy "do," adding, "I've wanted to cut my hair for a long time. I've had long hair forever. It used to take me two hours to do my hair. Since I work out twice a day, I wanted something that would be easier.

"I hadn't cut my hair in years. I look back at pictures when I was 14 years old and I had long, curly hair. By the time I cut it, it was halfway down my back. People thought I was wearing extensions. It was also very dried out and beat up, because I curled it every day and wore tons of product and hairspray in it. This new cut is nice and easy."

Cutting her hair was a cathartic experience. "We put it in a ponytail and Melanie said, 'First I'm going to cut the ponytail off. Think of something that you want to let go of - something you've been carrying around for a long time.'

"I've been working out every day and watching what I've been eating. So I said, 'I want to get rid of the "heavy girl" image, and always being the "chunky kid." ' She said, 'Okay, close your eyes,' and she cut it. I was so excited."

Jo Dee's also excited about her body's recent transformation. "At the ACMs last May I was a size 10," she reveals. "For this video my clothes are a size 4. But I'm healthy. A lot of my fans are writing to my fan club saying, 'Jo Dee's getting too skinny, she's not eating.' I say to my mother - who's president of my fan club - tell them I eat six times a day!

"I eat tuna fish, chicken, wheat bread, potatoes," notes Jo Dee. "I eat chocolate-covered popcorn cakes - well, not real chocolate. But when you haven't had chocolate for a long time, it's a close second. I also eat lots of protein bars. I'm constantly eating."

And exercising. "The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is run and then lift weights," explains Jo Dee, who works out with a personal trainer. "That takes about two and a half hours. If I'm on the road, I go back to the hotel, grab something to eat and take a shower. Then I do a sound check, a meet and greet and the show.

"After the show sometimes I'll go for a run. Or if I'm not doing a show that day or if I'm at home, I try to do another half hour or hour of cardiovascular exercise a night. So some days I work out twice a day. I do cardio seven days a week and weights six days a week."

But even someone with an ultra-strict regimen has to have a little fun. "I have a 'cheat day' once a week," confesses Jo Dee with a smile. "I get to have sundaes, cake or pancakes with butter. Whatever I am dying for, I have on my cheat day."

At this very moment, Jo Dee's dying for some dry clothes. But with hours left to go in the video shoot, it may be a while.

She looks down at her skin and laughs, "I'm all pruned from being in the water!"