John Berry Goes On Love Tour In Support of His Latest CD, I Give My Heart
Interview With John Berry
I recently spoke with one of my favorite singers of all time, John Berry, at the CRS-35 this year. John is hitting the road this Spring and Summer for what promises to be an amazing tour, appropriately named the Love Tour, in support of his latest album of classic love songs, I Give My Heart.
Described as having one of the most "powerful and distinctive voices in country music,” Berry has a stunningly rich, majestic tenor that he uses to its full effect. With multiple gold and platinum albums and nominations from the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music and the Grammys, John Berry has clearly forged an appreciation from the music industry and fans alike. Such fans include former President George H. Bush and wife Barbara, who invited John to sing for Mr. Bush's birthday party.
Born in Aiken, South Carolina, and raised in the Atlanta, Georgia area, John grew up in an eclectic musical household. His father listened to concert pianist Van Cliburn, his mother had a strong taste for gospel, and his brother became an opera singer. John gravitated to both soul and country music. He has made six self-produced albums, with the last one selling over 10,000 copies and was signed to Capitol Records after moving to Nashville in 1992. John's first #1 single, "Your Love Amazes Me," came in 1994, with "She's Taken a Shine" and "Standing on the Edge of Goodbye" following suit. Other Top 10 releases included "You and Only You" and "Change My Mind." The latter song, as well as his edgy top 10 hit "Kiss Me in the Car," showed off John's songwriting ability.
Making a difference is John's motivation and he sees music as a profoundly important calling. He has conscientiously used his influence to improve both the global and the local communities. He has contributed his time and talents for multiple children's charities, and supported causes such as adult literacy and cystic fibrosis.
John has been actively recording his own albums with his new independent label, Clear Sky Records. His album, Songs and Stories, was released in May 2002 and has sold over 10,000 copies at shows, online, and through his fan club. For the 2003 holiday season, he re-released his live Christmas CD, O Holy Night Live, formerly titled Christmas Live. That CD has been snapped up by fans, as well, creating the need for a second printing.
During the summer of 2003, John hit the road with friends David Lee Murphy and Lee Roy Parnell on the Paintin' the Town Tour. While on the tour, John and David Lee wrote the new romantic single, "Will You Marry Me?," which is already receiving high praise. Music critic Robert K. Oermann says John has "still got the goods. There's something special about saying something in a song for people who might not be able to express themselves in such a nakedly emotional way." Bill Lewis at WYTZ in Benton Harbor, Michigan, predicts "Will You Marry Me?" will make those single guys want to "run out and get the ring for their lady and married couples wanting to renew their vows." One fan was inspired by hearing the song on the radio to "pop the question" to his girlfriend. He even called John's Fan Club to get the CD early in order to use it for the special event.
John Berry "I get misty the moment you're near…." So what's up?
[Cindy Beth Gordon] I've been busy - Hey, I'm supposed to be interviewing you right? Just checking.:) It's good to talk to you. So tell me about your current CD project, I Give My Heart.
John Berry The current CD is called I Give My Heart. We [did] a tour, which started the week after Easter and [ran] through Mothers Day and then we [did] fairs and festivals during the summer.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] What inspired you to do the I Give My Heart CD?
John Berry The record was inspired by the Willie Nelson Stardust record, which is one of my favorite albums. I always wanted to do an album similar to that, but instead of going back as far to find material like Willie did, (he did old standards from mostly the late ‘30s and ‘40s), I wanted to do songs that were more from my generation. So, I went back and pulled songs that I loved when I was a kid growing up - songs from the early ‘70s thru the mid ‘80s. I put some songs of my songs on there from the ‘90s and a couple of new songs. We did songs like "If" by David Gates and Bread, "Time in A Bottle" by Jim Croce, Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" and "Lady" by Kenny Rogers that Lionel Ritchie wrote, and then from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack we did the Boz Scaggs song, "Love Look What You've Done to Me." It was a lot of fun. It was a real treat to get to go in and do my own recordings of these songs that I've loved for so many years.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] It's a great CD. I've really enjoyed listening to it.
John Berry Thank you. I wanted this to be a very romantic project, all "We are in love songs.” No "I love you, I wish you still loved me" songs to spoil that "naked in front of the fireplace moment" that I hope everyone has - listening to this CD, of course.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] What inspired you to write the first single on the CD called "Will You Marry Me"?
John Berry I wrote that song with David Lee Murphy and my pianist John Hall. It really came out nice. Skip Ecke of Clear Sky Records, he and I were talking about it and Skip said that of all the songs that are out there that talk about getting married, there's never been a song that just says will you marry me? And we were like, "Ok - any other ideas, cause that one worked out pretty good!" It was a lot of fun to write and David is such a prolific writer. It was a lot of fun to write with him and I look forward to getting to do that again soon I hope.
We've had such a great time recording I Give My Heart - there's been a great freedom. One of the things I remember most about recording I Give my Heart is that it was the most stress free recording sessions I can ever remember - we just had fun. It was all about coming up with fun songs and songs that we loved the real romantic songs - it came out really well, it was a lot of fun.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] And would you like to share any future plans?
John Berry [We'll be back on tour for] Christmas again with a large band. We're just going out there and keep on doing it!
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Well, I wish you much luck with the tour and the CD. Thanks John.
John Berry Thank you. It's good to see you.
"Will You Marry Me" Is on Great American Country!!! GAC is playing the "Will You Marry Me" video with great rotation. Please go to "countrystars.com" and click on "CRL" (Country Requests Live) and request this video. Also, you can vote for it under "Top 20." Just start voting! If you sent in your wedding picture, keep your eyes open for it on the video!
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