John Berry has a new outlook, a new address and a new beginning. The singer-songwriter rose to stardom on the country charts of the 1990s with such mega hits as “Your Love Amazes Me,” “Standing on the Edge of Goodbye” and “She’s Taken a Shine.” His annual Christmas tours brighten the holidays for thousands, as does his electrifying rendition of “O Holy Night.”
During his star-making decade, John Berry placed 20 singles on the county hit parade. He earned Gold and Platinum records. He was nominated for a Grammy Award, CMA Awards and ACM Awards. And thanks to the miracles of modern technology, he even sang a duet with the late, great Patsy Cline.
But when the hit records faded, Berry quietly left Nashville and headed back to his native Georgia. “The fall is hard. For a time it left me angry and disillusioned. I was fortunate because singing was all I had ever done and all I knew to do. I buckled under and made it work. It was then that I became the President and Janitor of JB Music. I am proud to say I have survived and grown because of it. Now I wish I could go back and talk to my younger self. I enjoy myself and making music. I love what I do. I’m realistic about who I am. I’m hopeful and excited about the future. I refuse to go away, because I LOVE singing and always will. I have a bus and sound and lights, and I’m always all dressed up and ready to go.”
He and his family have moved back to Music City, and John Berry is pursuing a touring schedule that is more active than ever. He is fortunate in that he can book a solo show with just himself and guitar, a small-band acoustic show or a full-band engagement.
Berry’s enduringly powerful performances draw on a lifetime of making music. Born in South Carolina and raised in Georgia, he began playing guitar at 13, performing shows at age 14 and making records at age 19. “By the time I was 17, I knew that music was what I wanted to do with my life. I thought, ‘What else am I going to do? Nothing.’ That was it. I was hooked.”
Between 1979 and 1990 he recorded and marketed six albums on his own labels. “The Graduation Song,” which he wrote during his senior year in high school, became a perennial favorite at graduation ceremonies. It appeared on two of his early collections.
Those early discs and John Berry’s strong regional popularity attracted attention on Music Row. Capitol Records signed him in 1992. Berry’s co-written “A Mind of Her Own” and “Kiss Me in the Car” introduced him to radio audiences in 1993. Then “Your Love Amazes Me,” “What’s in It for Me” and “You and Only You” thrust him to stardom in 1994. “Standing on the Edge of Goodbye,” “I Think About it All the Time,” and “If I Had Any Pride Left at All” were all major hits the following year, and the first-named earned John Berry a 1995 Grammy nomination.
But it was his stunning performance of the title track of the 1995 CD O Holy Night that led to his most enduring legacy. John Berry began doing special Christmas tours that year. Last year marked his 18th consecutive holiday concert series. He has also issued three more Christmas-music collections. “If ‘O Holy Night’ is all that anyone remembers of me, that’s fine with me,” he comments about his perennial Christmas popularity. “It is a truly inspired piece of music.”
Happily, there were more successes to come. Berry took “Change My Mind” into the country-music top-5 in 1996. “She’s Taken a Shine” became an even bigger hit in 1997. Both fans and the media took note when “There He Goes” was released as a 1999 “duet” with Patsy Cline.
In 2002, Berry returned to making records for his own company, Clear Sky Records. Songs and Stories, a double CD issued that year, led to another ongoing concert series. On the “Songs and Stories” shows, he performs solo or trio in intimate theater settings.
In 2003, John Berry issued his I Give My Heart collection and its critically applauded wedding anthem “Will You Marry Me.” The disc also contained his versions of such classic love songs such as “Time in a Bottle,” “If,” “Love Look What You’ve Done to Me,” “Faithfully,” “Lady” and “Let’s Stay Together.” I Give My Heart inspired still another popular concert series, “The Love Tour.”
Those Were the Days, released in 2008, marked John Berry’s return to mainstream country music. He created his first Christian-music CD in 2011. In 2012, he published the combination book and CD, again titled Songs and Stories. Throughout his time away from Nashville, he continued to tour steadily. “We just have a great group of people who come out to see us every year. They are always there.”
The move back to Nashville coincides with renewed commitment to be a better musician and a better songwriter. Berry has a new team and is eager for a career reinvention. “I’m excited to get another chance at bat in the music industry. I’m all for it. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner and where it leads. You know, God just keeps blessing me. There are new opportunities coming in every day.”
“With time, I’ve learned that the road to fulfillment is doing what I was called to do, love to do, and then doing it the best I can, regardless of the circumstances. And for me, that is making music and singing for people.”