John Berry takes the stage Tuesday, March 25, at the Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown. If you don’t know the name, you know the voice. His number one hit “Your Love Amazes Me” is a favorite at weddings and his version of “O Holy Night” is among the best recordings of this song, which Berry sings a cappella in his shows — even in July!
When I talked with Berry last week by phone at his home near Athens, Ga., he was in the middle of a big project — installing carpet in his new-to-him tour bus. Not surprising. When I interviewed him a few years ago, he told me he loves touring by bus and even enjoyed taking a turn behind the wheel.
His most recent album released in 2012 and though it’s his 25th studio album it was a first for him — the first album of Christian songs and the first he’s funded through Kickstarter. It’s called “Real Man. Real Life. Real God.” And though it’s a great collection of real-life faith songs and includes the hymn “Blessed Assurance,” Berry said he was told it was too country for Christian radio and too Christian for country radio. But for Berry fans it was just right, he said they love it.
His Hagerstown show will include bass player and vocalist Mike Steele and Berry’s wife of 26 years, Robin, who one of his backup singers.
I asked him what was their secret to staying together for so many years. “We just do everything together. We got married and this is our life,” he said. “It’s not my career, not my business and not my money. Everything is ours.” Good advice.
They met at a club in Athens, Ga., called Rappers. The club was located in a former department store — the gift wrap area to be specific, Berry said, explaining the name of the club.
“We were playing there and these girls came in with their dates,” Berry said, noting one of them, Robin, was really cute.
“I knew exactly what songs to play so (the guys) would get bored and play pool,” he said. He got Robin’s attention but it took two years to get her to go on a date with him.
Berry came to be a Christian at a young age. Before he sings his mother’s favorite hymn, “Blessed Assurance,” he tells the story of that moment of what happened one afternoon after school during a conversation with his mother. He was troubled by some things he learned in Sunday School and his mother had just the right words to not only take away his fears but show him the beauty in the message of the gospel.
He’s stayed true to his faith even in country music, while the genre is known for its cheatin’ and drinkin’ songs it hasn’t been part of his music. While his latest album of Christian songs was a dream, Berry said he’s not sure what direction his next album will take — country or Christian.
“We’ll see what the next record turns into,” he said.
You can read more of my interview with John Berry in Thursday’s edition of 72 Hours inside The Frederick News-Post.