Many older Nashville artists have pretty much hung up their mics, but John Berry is not only still performing live and recording, he’s also hosting a twice-monthly subscription-based podcast series with his wife, Robin, Faith, Family & Friends. The couple takes a “sitting around the kitchen table” approach with guests from the Nashville music scene and beyond, having interviewed such notables as WSM Radio’s Bill Cody, legendary musician Chris Hillman (the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers), Olympic skater Scott Hamilton and others.
Berry received two Grammy nominations for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in the 1990s, winning neither during a decade when almost nobody but Vince Gill walked away with that particular statue. He did, however, take home a Grammy for his participation on the album Amazing Grace: A Country Salute to Gospel Vol. 1, where he performed the old hymn “Blessed Assurance.” Berry is one of the pioneers of do-it-yourself recording, as he had half a dozen albums under his belt before he was even signed in Nashville. He’s currently in the studio tracking a new as-yet-untitled album for release later this year, working closely with renowned producer/keyboardist Steve Dorff, who has worked with Garth Brooks, Celine Dion, Kenny Rogers and numerous other top artists.
What makes all of this so remarkable is the fact that Berry has survived health scares that would have ended the careers, if not the lives, of most singers, beginning with a serious motorcycle accident more than a decade before he began his major label career. When asked why he thinks he’s still here and able to sing a professional level, Berry, a man of strong faith, has one simple answer: God.
Berry had surgery for a brain tumor in 1994, at the same time that his single “Your Love Amazes Me” was hitting the number one spot on the charts. And that was before throat issues threatened his singing voice. “There were two major things with my throat,” he said, “vocal cord surgery back in ’97, and then I had throat cancer two years ago. I’m still here and can sing because of God. That’s all there is to it.”
The podcast he records with his wife Robin, who also sings in his live show, gives Berry a chance to connect with people who have their owns stories of faith and life in the public eye. One of those was his friend, the late Charlie Daniels, who died in July of 2020. “I’d known Charlie for a long time, and just a few days after we talked he passed away,” Berry recalled from his home in the suburbs north of Nashville. “It’s funny that, during the first 19 minutes of our conversation, he mentioned being in Heaven three times. He was just a super guy. We’ve been fortunate to be able to touch base with friends of ours [on the podcast], and other people we might not normally get to chat with.”
In addition to working in Nashville on the new album, which will include traditional hymns such as “How Great Thou Art” and “It Is Well With My Soul” that will feature full string sections, Berry also has public performance dates lined up into next year, including appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. He’s beaten the odds several times and shows no signs of slowing down. You can keep track of Berry and his projects at johnberry.com.