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John Berry Interview by Shelley Ridge for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

John Berry Interview by Shelley Ridge for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show


CMNI: What does CMAfest mean to you and to your fans?

John Berry: Well, I think for the fans it's a fun time to come and [have]different opportunities to see the artists in different settings than normal, and I think for an artist, and me in particular, it means a chance to see our fans in a more one-on-one basis. Get a chance to visit with them for a few minutes. Sometimes you don't have that opportunity on the road. It's a lot of fun.

CMNI: And ... you have a fan club party tonight at The Valentine?

Berry: We're playing The Valentine a couple of hours - we're the last act of the day - and then they are making it available for us to stay and visit with our fans. It's a lot of fun.

CMNI: You are celebrating twenty-five years this year as a major label artist ...

Berry: Yeah, twenty-five years ago my first album on Capitol came out, it's crazy. Next year, my fortieth year since I first came out as an independent [artist]. As far as my career as a nationally recorded artist, you know ... twenty-five years this year, [that's] pretty crazy. Chuck Howard produced all those early hits of mine: "Kiss Me In the Car", "Your Love Amazes Me", "Standing on the Edge of Goodbye", all those records Chuck Howard produced.  I just cut {the title track] for a film called "Beautifully Broken" that Chuck produced and it's doing really well on radio. So, it's kind of fun.

CMNI:  A revival ...

Berry: Lazarus back from the dead ...

CMNI: Right!

CMNI: And speaking of, you have gone through some rather difficult health issues through the years (referring to Berry's brain cancer surgery in the nineties) and come back. Did that strengthen your will to continue with music or ... ?

Berry:  Well, I think it gives you a real appreciation for every day you get, about that, you know. But, I've always loved doing what I do. Sometimes it's just thrown a kink in the wheel of progress going down the road .. musically ... but, you know, God's funny: He uses things to get our attention, so ...

CMNI: He sure does ...

Berry: Yeah.

CMNI: You live in Tennessee

Berry: We live in the Nashville area, yeah.

CMNI: So since you mentioned God, may I ask if you go to church regularly?

Berry: Yeah, we go to Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.  It's a really huge church and Robby Gallaty is the pastor, he's been there for about a year now and he's just awesome and it's a great church, great; great fellowship and people.

CMNI: So, what is most important in your life: music, God, family ...

Berry: My relationship with God, the Holy Father is the most important thing, because all of this is temporary, this is all for a short period ... this is limited time only and that's not limited time only, that's unlimited time only ... so, we make use of the time we're given, the gifts we're given, the opportunities we are given when we are here and make the most of them and do it all in such a way that we bring glory and honor to our Heavenly Father.

CMNI: We have a favorite holiday in common, which is Christmas. You have released several Christmas albums?

Berry:  Yeah, this year will be our twenty-second year doing my Christmas Tour. Been doing it for twenty-one years and all because of the song "Oh, Holy Night".  I had brain surgery you know in 1994 and we recorded it thirty days later.  Thirty days after the brain surgery we recorded "Oh, Holy Night".  The only reason we did it was because it was already scheduled.  They wanted to cancel the session, but I said "No, I need a distraction, I need to go do something".  We captured something really special.  We put it on a disc and sent it in a Thank You card to all the radio stations for their support and it got airplay like crazy, it went nuts.  And the next year we finished up an album and we've been doing a tour ever since.

CMNI: We can hear a lot of Roy Orbison in your voice and also John Denver.

Berry: Oh, yeah, people that loved to sing.

CMNI: Is that on purpose?

Berry: It's just stuff I like, just stuff I was drawn to.  During the seventies I just loved singer-songwriters.  I started learning to play guitar in the early seventies.  People like John Denver, Cat Stevens ... I was just naturally drawn to guys that played their own guitars and wrote their own songs. Then I discovered groups like the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd ...the southern rock style, I really loved that.  But, before all that happened, I was just a kid listening to the radio.  I used to love to listen to what they call Philly Soul.  Groups like The Chi-Lites and The Stylistics and The Dramatics.  Philly Soul music is just so fabulous!  I still love that kind of music.

CMNI: The connection between singer-songwriters like John Denver, the mountains - you used to live by the Georgia mountains - is there something about the mountains and music that is calling you?

Berry: Actually, the beach is my calling.  I'm not a Jimmy Buffet tequila-on-the-beach kinda guy.  I just love the beach, 'cause I grew up going to the beach.  Every summer with my family and then with my kids - and my wife and I used to go to the South Carolina coast every year.  Robin and I honey-mooned on St. Simons Island and our daughter got married there a year-and-a-half ago at the same hotel.  We're hoping we can retire to St. Simons if we can pull off a financial miracle (chuckle).

CMNI: Before we end this interview, what are the three most important things in life for you?

Berry: The most important thing in my life is my relationship with Christ, second is my wife Robin and our children and our family and friends.  My personal relationships with friends, family and my career are the most important things in my life.

Shelley Ridge for Country Music News International Magazine.

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