An Interview with John Berry
I recently caught up with one of my favorite recording artists, John Berry, who released a new CD, Christmas Live. John was doing a Christmas tour to promote the new record. John is also planning to tour in 2003. I'd highly recommend checking out his shows and his CDs. In my opinion, he's one of the best male vocalists out there.
With his soaring tenor, John Berry earned "Best Male Vocalist" nominations at the Grammy, Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards shows. He jump-started his career at the 1993 Country Radio Seminar, wowing a group of radio programmers with his performance of the #1 hit, "Your Love Amazes Me." He brought a "seen-it-all" industry audience to its feet at 1995's country Music Awards Show, when he delivered a stirring acoustic rendition of "If I Had Any Pride Left At All." As one critic wrote afterwards, "If there is a more commanding vocalist in country music than John Berry, we have yet to hear from him." John has shared the stage with country stars including Clint Black, Faith Hill, Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood.
It would be difficult to find an artist more passionate about their music or more devoted to bring that music to an audience. Berry can get intensely serious in discussion of his art, but he's not the stereotypical tortured artist, spending his life with a furrowed brow. He's an avid motorcyclist who boasts, "I have the prettiest Harley Fat boy on two wheels." John and his wife Robin have three young children. His life is full, fun and forever going forward.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Hi John. It's great to talk to you. So you're in Nashville right now and going to do a show at the Bluebird tonight? It's a great venue. Are you looking forward to playing there?
John Berry Oh yeah. It's a very neat room.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] So you recently released a new CD - the Christmas Live CD?
John Berry Yes. It's a live Christmas CD we recorded a couple of nights in Athens, Georgia where I live.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Are they original Christmas songs?
John Berry No, it's all things that I've recorded before, "Oh Holy Night" and "My Heart is in Bethlehem," (and more), but we just wanted to try and capture what a live concert felt like, what people experience when they come actually to a show. I think we did a pretty good job of capturing that kind of feel, the magic that goes on with a good live performance.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] And you also released another CD?
John Berry I haven't released one since last year when we released All The Way To There." "All the Way There" is the most recent studio record I have and then the Christmas Live record is the most recent live recording.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] And where can people get a copy of the CD?
John Berry Well, basically since I don't have a major distributor, the way they can get it is to order it off my website at www.JohnBerry.net or they could call my management office and order it from them directly on the phone, which is probably just as quick, if not quicker at (615) 297-7002.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] And where did you record the Christmas CD?
John Berry We recorded it in Athens at the Oconee County Civic Center - it's in the county we live in.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Sounds good. When did you record the CD?
John Berry In July of all times (he laughs). In the two hottest days of July.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] I was looking at your website and you have a lot of upcoming shows for the Christmas tour.
John Berry This is about our 6th, 7th year of doing this Christmas tour. This year we're taking a cellist and a violinist as well. It's going really well. It's been a great show with some magical musicians, some great, great players.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] And who are the musicians on the record?
John Berry Robin Bery, Paige Turner, Joleah Ray and Jeff Brock sang background vocals as well as the Reggattie and the Prince Avenue Baptist Choir. Connie Ellisor played violin and John Catchings played Cello. Jenny Kimbrough played electric and acoustic guitar. Jerry Flowers was on bass. Chris Brown on Drums, John Hall played keyboards and piano and Robin Bery played synthesizer and pads.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Are you doing the Christmas tour in the Midwest specifically, all over the USA?
John Berry We're touring GA, NC, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky, Missippi, (etc.)
[Cindy Beth Gordon] I was wondering if you're coming to New Jersey at all?
John Berry No, not this trip. Next year we will.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Sounds good. I have a couple of your CD's, Standing on the Edge and the John Berry CD.
John Berry Thank you.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] You're definitely one of my favorite singers. I was on a website and we were talking about our favorite love songs and wedding songs. I told them I really loved that song "Your Love Amazes Me." It's a great song.
John Berry Oh, thank you.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Your welcome. With your songs, I was wondering - do you write all your songs or co-write?
John Berry I write some songs, I don't write very often.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] So you have other writers writing for you?
John Berry Yes, I have people that write, friends of mine that write, signed songs with publishers.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Do you work with certain publishers?
John Berry I listen to whoever's got them (the songs).
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Sounds good. And you're based out of Georgia?
John Berry Athens, GA.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] I was reading that you have 3 kids and your wife, Robin. So what's the family plans for Christmas this year?
John Berry We've got some family coming to visit us and we're just going to stay at home and just enjoy the holidays.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Sounds good. And I heard your kids enjoy horseback riding, or your son does?
John Berry Yes, one rides horses, one rides motorcycles, different things like that. Lots of activities.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] You're a big motorcycle fan.
John Berry Yes, I love riding bikes. It's a lot of fun.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] I read that you have a recording studio at your house also?
John Berry Yes, that's where we recorded our All the Way to There album and the Christmas Live record. I don't know about my next project, but I'm sure I'll do some of it at my home studio.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Anything else you wanted to add?
John Berry I just hope folks will get a chance to hear this record and I'm looking forward to being in your area before too long and having a chance to play.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Sounds great. As far as distribution, you're looking for a distribution deal?
John Berry Oh yes, always looking for distribution.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Well, that's about all the questions I had for now.
John Berry Ok, Thank you so much. Have a great holiday.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] You too. Have a great holiday!