John Berry Pays Homage to His Roots on 'Thomas Road': Exclusive


"Nothing takes you residence like the road you grew up on," Berry says.

Everyone has heard the previous adage "You Can't Go Home Again." Thankfully, John Berry didn't pay attention. The veteran singer/songwriter revisits his musical roots on his participating new EP Thomas Road, named after the Decatur, Georgia avenue the place his musical ambitions started to take form.

"What began this was rising up on a terrific little avenue with nice associates and all of us had a love for music," Berry tells Billboard of Thomas Road, releasing Nov. 30. "I keep in mind going over to my buddy Jeff's home throughout the road and listening to Hank Williams along with his dad. Us youngsters used to hang around in my dad's storage and take heed to [Atlanta's] WQXI 79 AM and all of the music they used to play on that station. Music was all the time round."

Berry recollects being influenced by such legendary singer/songwriters as John Denver, James Taylor and Carole King. "I lived on Thomas street when Carole King launched Tapestry," Berry says of King's iconic 1971 album. "My dad purchased a stereo and I found the FM dial. The turntable was arrange on high of the desk and the audio system have been on the ground, on both sides of that little desk. I keep in mind mendacity up beneath that desk and turning these audio system in and mendacity right here listening to that Carole King file. It's fairly unbelievable stuff."

Those early influences would lay the inspiration for Berry's nation music profession. He started enjoying guitar at age 12. By the time he turned 13, his household moved to a different home on Jefferson Street and his father helped the younger musician construct a studio within the basement the place he started recording unbiased albums. "In highschool I used to be actual critical about it and I assume I bought into it as a result of I didn't know any higher," Berry says with amusing. "We'd arrange in that little studio within the basement and file songs on a regular basis making an attempt to determine what we have been doing. Sometime round 1978 we began placing stuff collectively. By September of '79 we had a bit of vinyl file and got here up right here to Nashville to the file press over in Berry Hill and pressed up 500 copies. It got here out in September of '79. I had simply turned 20. That was 40 years in the past subsequent September."

This yr Berry marks 25 years since Berry's self-titled main label debut was launched on Liberty Records, spawning the Hot Country Songs No. 1 "Your Love Amazes Me." Over the years, Berry has populated nation radio with such hits as "Kiss Me within the Car," "You and Only You," "Standing on the Edge of Goodbye" and "I Think About it All the Time," and his clean, soulful tenor has been heralded as one in every of nation music's finest voices.

Berry is at present within the midst of his 22nd annual Christmas Songs and Stories tour, which kicked off Nov. 16 in Marietta, GA. He's performing 21 dates earlier than wrapping up in Macon, GA on Dec. 22. During the primary a part of every present, Berry will carry out earlier hits and new materials, then after intermission will return to the stage to carry out greater than an hour of Christmas songs. "There's seven of us on stage and it's developed right into a very nice present," he says. "We actually attempt to have a good time Christmas and what I imagine it's all about and that being the beginning of Jesus. We have a good time household and all these facets of it, however it's actually all about Christ."

Berry all the time enjoys serving up Christmas songs, and this yr he's equally enthusiastic about sharing new songs from Thomas Road. Berry co-wrote three of the songs, together with the title observe, which celebrates how far he's come since he first picked up a guitar on Thomas Road. "You speak about all of the locations you go and the place life takes you, however nothing takes you residence like the road you grew up on," he says, "and the children you grew up enjoying ball with down the road."

Berry co-wrote the poignant ballad "The Richest Man" with Liz Hengber and Will Robinson. "I had an thought about writing a music about my dad," Berry shares. "Quite a lot of it's about issues he taught my brother, sister and me. Quite a lot of issues he taught us in life had nothing to do with cash, extra importantly it needed to do with coronary heart and that's the place this music comes from. In speaking with Liz and Will and placing this collectively, it simply formulated right into a very nice thought. People have actually been moved by the music on the reveals once we've been performing it. It's been good to see."

Berry co-wrote "Don't Think I Ain't Country" with Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson. "I used to be on my technique to go write with THE Bill Anderson and I used to be pondering to myself, 'I would like one thing. I'm going to jot down with Bill. I don't have to stroll in empty handed.' And as I used to be coming down I-65, this large ole pickup truck blows previous me -- a kind of that it's important to climb up in with a ladder -- and I imply he blows by me like I'm sitting nonetheless. I level my finger at him and stated, 'Don't you assume I ain't nation as a result of I ain't bought a giant ole truck like that.' And I assumed to myself, 'don't assume I ain't nation' and I begin singing traces. I used to be driving and didn't have something to jot down on. I didn't have a recorder helpful and didn't even take into consideration grabbing my telephone to file something. I bought to Bill's workplace and stated, 'Don't discuss to me. I've bought to jot down this down.' I grabbed a guitar and he stated, 'Oh my goodness. Let's get on that,' so we jumped on it and we wrote 'Don't Think I Ain't Country.' It's simply speaking about all of the issues that nation is extra who you're than what you bought or what you don't have. It's simply who you're in your coronary heart and soul."

The new EP was produced by Chuck Howard, the producer who helmed Berry's early hits together with "Your Love Amazes Me," and Barry Weeks. He reconnected with Howard when he and Weeks did "Beautifully Broken," a music Berry recorded for the movie of the identical identify starring Eric Roberts, Scott William Winters and Benjamin A. Onyango. After a theatrical run, Beautifully Broken hits Netflix Dec. four.

Berry contains "Beautifully Broken" on Thomas Road. "Everybody has been damaged. It's easy as that. Everybody is aware of what brokenness seems like," Berry says of the music's attraction. The story within the movie turned much more emotional to Berry after he and his spouse, Robin, took a mission journey over the summer time to Rwanda. "We have been there for a couple of week and a half and it was fairly outstanding to see how these individuals nonetheless dwell after 1000's of years. Loads hasn't modified," he says. "Robin and I did music for trip Bible college. It's a complete totally different lifestyle. We bought to go to the Genocide Museum. That's what Beautifully Broken is about or was impressed by. It's about three households and the tapestry that God weaves for these those who save one another's lives."

One of Berry's favourite new songs is "Why Didn't I." Penned by Weeks and Michael Boggs, the lyric speaks of residing life to the fullest with no regrets. As somebody who survived being hit by a automobile when he was 21 and had surgical procedure for a mind tumor the identical day "Your Love Amazes Me" hit the highest of the chart, Berry has handled quite a lot of ups and downs. "You would possibly assume you're as robust as nails, however you aren't. We are fragile beings. A blister smaller than the tip of my finger modified my complete all the pieces," he says of the mind tumor that modified his character and upended his life. "It wasn't cancerous. It was this little factor that blocked the drainage of fluid down the spinal column and turned me into anyone else. You begin to understand how fragile are we. We have a life expectancy. We have an expiration date. We don't know what that date is and we've a possibility to dwell our lives with out asking, why didn't I?"

Berry plans on releasing music extra often within the coming years and he's happy with Thomas Road. "One factor about this little venture that we've created is no person can accuse me of doing the identical factor over. Nobody can say oh he's simply rehashing that final file. That ain't taking place," he grins. "There's not a lot on right here that I've accomplished earlier than. 'Why Didn't I' is an actual stretch. It's very pop, however it's very me. There's nothing on there that you just'd go, 'Oh that doesn't sound like John Berry!' It all does, however there's numerous totally different."

After almost 40 years of creating music, Berry is appreciative of his profession longevity and simply how far he's come since Thomas Road. "Quite a lot of it's survival. How lengthy are you able to keep? How lengthy are you able to sit at a poker desk?" he says. "How a lot money and time do it's important to sit? Sooner or later your probability goes to return round. Stay within the recreation, however when you stroll away from the sport and don't play, you possibly can't win. If you're able, keep on the desk. And we've been on the desk for 25 years."