Aiken City Lifestyle caught up with Grammy Award winner and Aiken native, John Berry, in Nashville for a quick photoshoot, and to talk about his 26th annual Christmas Tour. Country music fans know John for hits like “Your Love Amazes Me” and “Standing on the Edge of Goodbye”. His latest album, Find My Joy, is a gospel collaboration with Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee, Steve Dorff, and offers fresh takes on traditional hymns as well as some original titles. Christmas and faith are passions for John, and his enthusiasm is contagious.
During our shoot, John and his wife Robin recounted memories of their childhood growing up in South Carolina. We confess to being a bit starstruck in the presence of country music royalty (especially during his impromptu serenades), but his humble and down-to-earth demeanor made Nashville feel a little more like home. Check out our Q & A with John Berry:
ACL: What special memories do you have of Aiken?
John: I have a lot of fun memories of Aiken; growing up in Crossland Park, spending time with family, going out on the weekends to see my grandmother in Windsor, spending the day with my uncle who ran the Greyhound bus station, seeing the Beatles movie “Help” at the old theater downtown, and getting a brand new pair of shoes at the shoe store downtown.
ACL: Why Christmas?
John: It all started at our home church in Athens, Georgia, Christmas of 1988. The pastor, Fred Rowell, who became a dear friend to me and Robin, asked if we would do a Christmas program. It was a lot of fun and a great success! After I had a record deal with Capital, my producer, Chuck Howard, heard us talking about our Christmas program and suggested we go in and record a couple of songs. We recorded “O Come Emmanuel" and "O Holy Night" in June of 1994. I had just had brain surgery to remove a keloid cyst and it was a pretty emotional time. We captured something very special. The following year, we went out and did a handful of dates which turned into 26 years of sharing music celebrating the birth of Christ.
ACL: Any Favorite Christmas Traditions?
John: My favorite Christmas tradition was at our old farm just north of Athens, Georgia. We would take our children, nieces, nephews, and anyone else who wanted to ride, on a hayride around our farm Christmas Eve, and then gather around a bonfire and enjoy the evening together. Good memories!
John’s annual Christmas tour makes a stop across the river in Augusta, at the Imperial Theater on December 18th, at 7:30 pm. The show has become a holiday tradition for many locals. Tour details and John’s latest album, Find My Joy, are both available at www.johnberry.com.