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Country music star Jo Dee Messina will perform three times for servicemembers stationed in Italy on her first United Service Organizations tour.

Messina, named the Academy of Country Music’s female artist of the year in 1999, kicks off the tour Saturday at Aviano Air Base. She’s scheduled to sign autographs for fans in the base exchange complex from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m., then hold a concert at 7 p.m. in Hangar 1.

The concert tour, co-sponsored by Armed Forces Entertainment, includes stops in Vicenza and Naples and is free and open to all military identification cardholders.

“It’s an honor to be part of anything that supports our men and women in the military,” she is quoted as saying on her Web site (www.jodeemessina.com). “I believe that it is so important to show our appreciation and support for all that they do to protect and serve our country. I’m looking forward to a good time and some great shows.”

Messina is set to meet with fans in Vicenza on Monday, signing autographs in the post exchange food court from 2-3 p.m. She’ll then perform in the base gymnasium, where seating will be first-come, first-served, at 7 p.m.

Sailors and their families will get a chance to see her perform Wednesday, at 8 p.m., at the hangar near the parking garage in Capodichino.

Messina has had nine No. 1 songs since debuting on the charts in 1996. She’s sold more than 5 million albums in that span. Her latest, “Delicious Surprise,” debuted at No. 1 on the country charts last year and has been certified gold.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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