A new television series and a new Christmas tour…
John Berry shoots for the stars!
By: Gina Kay Singerhouse
Dusk slowly fades to reveal the night sky as he sits upon the deck of his home in rural Tennessee. There is nothing like a warm fall evening spent watching the stars as they reveal themselves. Off in the distance he can hear the crickets, frogs and toads as they provide a symphony of music that echoes across his beautifully designed back yard. He didn’t design it, it was like this when he and his wife bought this house. They just inherited it from the previous owners and he feels blessed to have done so.
As he sits there looking for the first star of the evening to reveal itself, he begins strumming his guitar. It’s heaven on earth under the night sky. If only he could share this moment for all to experience, perhaps they too could feel in their soul what he is feeling right now.
I wish I may, I wish I might, I wish that I’d have my wish tonight…
What started out as a simple idea has come full circle for country music entertainer John Berry. On August 3, 2017, John launched his new television series called Songs And Stories With John Berry. The thirty minute variety show will air on the Heartland Network.
“It started in 2001 with a handful of shows that we did over a two week time period.” tells John Berry. “My piano player, my wife and I just did this unplugged kinda show in these small theatres and some small clubs, listening rooms and things. We kept getting calls with people asking us to come and do that show. It ended up being a twenty-two months and a two disc set. Then people started asking if we had written any of the stories down. My wife Robin made it a project one year... take the original CDs and transcribe out all the stories I would tell. Then I took ‘em and stretched ‘em a little bit, added to, took away and tried to make ‘em a good read. Then my wife collected just tons of pictures. We have a friend in Athens, Georgia, who has a magazine company. They printed it in a almost tour book. So a friend of ours put that together and we put the CD with the ten songs and ten stories.
“I was sitting out here one evening and we got on Facebook live and I played a few songs and the numbers were like good grief! It was just crazy! We started talking about the possibility of sittin’ out here and having a friend or two come over and we’d do the same thing. But, do it on a semi regular basis. Then we talked about what if it was inclement weather? Then the idea came about just doing it as a regular TV show.”
John feels blessed to have the show filmed at the historic Douglas Corner located in Nashville, Tennessee. The venue is quite special to John as it was the same venue that John first showcased his music prior to signing his first record contract.
Like the title of the show states, the premise of John’s television show is about the songs that have touched our lives and the stories behind those songs.
“’Ships That Don’t Come In’ was one that literally changed my life.” shares John. “Because of that song... is why we went to town [Nashville] and did the showcase to start with. But ’Your Love Amazes Me’ and ’Standing On The Edge,’ those two songs have been career records for me. ’Your Love Amazes Me,’ my friend Chuck Jones wrote that with Amanda Hunt Taylor. It’s one of those great pieces of music that I was just the lucky guy who got to sing it. I don’t think it would have mattered who sang that song it would have been a hit. I was the lucky guy who got to do it.”
Each week, Berry will play host to his friends who just happen to be some of country music’s finest entertainers. Season one is sure to be entertaining as John welcomes Billy Ray Cyrus, Clay Walker, Craig Morgan, Mo Pitney, Mark Wills, Billy Dean, Suzy Bogguss, Collin Raye, Lee Roy Parnell, Neal McCoy and Delbert McClinton to the show. This show is sure to keep you entertained with all the stories that contain various surprises.
“One of the cool ones was that Collin Raye… one of his big inspirations was Waylon Jennings.” shares Berry. “And he played a song of Waylon’s that really inspired him. That was a real treat to get to do that. I would have not expected that ‘cause… It’s really funny ‘cause he grew up in Texas and as a kid he loved Rock-n-Roll stuff, you know the butt kickin’ kind of stuff. But, as he got a little older, of course he grew up hearing Waylon and others, just like a lot of us have. He really loved Waylon’s music.”
The show is filmed in front of a live studio audience. I am sorry to say that Season 1 has already been recorded in it’s entirety. Nonetheless, fans who are interested in the show and to see the schedule can visit the official website of Songs And Stories at www.SongsandStories.com
“I want them to get to know these friends of mine, who come to be on the show, like they’d never seen them before. To find out things about them that they wouldn’t have expected. Find out what inspires them.” adds John. “We really should have had an hour long show, because we left a lot of great stuff on the cutting room floor; I’m afraid as they say. Some of them talked and talked and talked and talked, you know. I’m sitting their looking at my watch, going ‘we’ve got two more shows to cut today, boys! Lets play some music! It really was great to hear these stories these folks would share with us.”
As he gazes up at the night sky, a cold breeze blows across his backyard. Already, the green grass is decorated with leaves of various colors. Fall has arrived and with it winter. More so, with the cool chilled air comes his favorite season… Christmas. He is ready to exchange a fall night filled with millions of stars to spread the word about one important star. The Christmas star...
As most of us are dusting off our fall décor, John Berry is dusting off his list of favorite Christmas tunes. 2017 marks John’s twenty-first year of spreading the good news and the real reason behind the Christmas season—Jesus’ birth.
What brings John Berry to construct and organize a Christmas tour each year?
“Well it’s just the music. I just love, love, love the music!” shares John. “I love getting to sing Christmas music. I mean I know the songs don’t change a lot. We change it up a little bit, trying to alternate...there’s some songs that we do every other year, kind of thing. Then there’s some that we just have to do every year.”
Perhaps the most appealing part of John’s Christmas tour is the fact that he is booked in small venues that host less than one thousand audience members. This gives John and his band the opportunity to create more of a down home, family kind of atmosphere to his performance. More so, it creates and sets the scene for an old fashioned style of Christmas. By creating such a peaceful environment, John hopes that his guests will be able to take that feeling with them long after the show.
“I don’t know if there are lots of surprises.” replies Berry. “We just try to get out there and share it as best we can. I try to do Christmas music very much in the mode of how I remember it being done growing up. I don’t mess with it a lot. I don’t mess with it a whole lot… just tell stories about Christmas in our home, Christmas growing up and share the true meaning of Christmas about Christ birth and how important that is to me.”
John Berry’s 21st Annual Christmas tour kicks off on November 17 and runs through December 23rd. On December 15, John will perform in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a performance that will be filmed for a television special called Christmas Songs And Stories With John Berry. The official air date of this Christmas special has yet to be determined.
The full Christmas schedule follows:
26—Traverse City, MI
1—Grand Rapids, MN
2—Detroit Lakes, MN
For more information about the tour and to purchase tickets, please visit JohnBerry.com.
“Oh just the love of the music and the love of the message of the music of Christ birth, ‘cause that is what our Christmas show… I did an interview a few years ago and the reporter, innocently enough, kept referring to my show as my holiday show. Holiday this, holiday that.” shares John. “I said listen I’m going to clarify something about my show. I said I know the politically correct thing is to call it a holiday show, but this is a full on Jesus is born to Mary and Joseph in a manger; lived thirty-two years on this earth; died on a cross; rose again; is coming back again; Christmas show. That’s my faith and that’s what this is… if folks just want to hear Santa songs, this might not be the show for them. Because we do a lot of just fun, up tempo, traditional Christmas songs. We do a lot of faith based songs and really try to share that message of Christmas with everybody.”
The night sky is dark as dark can be. Above his head he sees the faint glow of millions of stars. Amongst these are a gentle few whose light shines brighter than the rest.
It’s a silent night, even though the symphony of various insects and reptiles still serenades him. He has been just sitting there strumming his guitar as if he were a part of the symphony. It is peaceful and relaxing as he enjoys this rare moment in his backyard.
He looks up just in time to see a falling star as it shoots across the night sky. It leaves a gentle white trail as if to say here I am. He is inspired by what he had just seen and automatically, his fingers form the chord on his guitar as he launches into…
O Holy night…
the stars are brightly shining,
it is the night of the dear savior’s birth...
Songs & Stories with John Berry
Season 1 Guest Lineup:
Aug 3 - Billy Ray Cyrus
Aug 10 - Lee Roy Parnell
Aug 17 - Neal McCoy
Aug 24 - Collin Raye
Aug 31 - Billy Dean
Sept 7 - Mo Pitney
Sept 14 - Suzy Bogguss
Sept 21 - Clay Walker
Sept 28 - Mark Wills
Oct 5 - Delbert McClinton
Oct 12 - Craig Morgan
Oct 19 - John Berry
Oct 26 - Best of Season 1
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