"The whole free-spirited thing attracted me to these songs. They say 'Hey, I'm going, see ya,' " Messina said.
She'd been doing "Bye Bye" in concert and had been getting a good response, so she decided to include it on the album. Concert-goers also reacted strongly to the spiritual, emotion-filled "Even God Must Get the Blues," and they insisted she record it.
"It's my way to give something back to them," Messina said.
She said "I'm Alright" took 18 months to make, and it was a long, painful process.
"I learned a lot of lessons in life, about friendship and loyalty, survival and life in general," Messina said. "It was a strange time."
Messina's self-titled debut album was released in 1996. She toured last year with the Fruit of the Loom Country Comfort Music Series, but with no new music on the radio, she had worried that fans would forget about her.
"I was afraid because we were gone so long, and such incredible talent had come along," she said.
She discovered she didn't have to worry.
"The letters and e-mails were overwhelming. Country fans are so loyal," she said.
She said she didn't want to rush, because she wanted to do an album her listeners could relate to.
"Fans are the ones who stand by you, and they have to be pleased with the outcome," she said.
Messina put together a band when she was 16, handling everything from booking to song selection. The Massachusetts native, who said she's in her mid-20s, has worked tirelessly ever since.
The same energy drives her personal life. She's been boxing for three years, and she runs about four miles a day.
"Usually the first thing I do is get up and run," she said.
Messina, who lives outside Nashville, Tenn., is gearing up for another busy year, and she'll be performing 150 to 175 concert dates.
She's excited about the response her album has been getting, but she doesn't want to jinx herself.
"I'm feeling fortunate, but I'm not letting it affect anything," she said.
When: Tuesday, April 7, at 9:30 p.m.
Where: Barracuda's Surf Bar, 901 Dual Highway, Hagerstown
Admission: $5 at the door
Details: Doors open at 7 p.m. The performance is presented by WAYZ and is part of WAYZ Country Night. Tori Anderson and Possum Holler will perform from 9 to 9:30 p.m.
For information: Call WAYZ at 1-800-756-1015