Post from Calhoun County Insight
John Berry says he is thrilled to be a part of the Alabama and Friends Benefit Concert, “We’re just glad that we can come and hopefully help in raising funds to rebuild”.
The Grammy winning artist has a unique connection to Jacksonville State University. His daughter was involved with Spirit at JSU. “The day she graduated from high school she walked down the aisle from getting her diploma and walked on out the door and got in the car with us, and we took her to JSU to be there for a few weeks with the Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps,” Berry explains. “So we got to be there on campus quite a few times during that time frame.”
When Berry moved his family to Nashville in 2014, he says he and his wife, Robin, became good friends with a couple with ties to JSU, and through those friends they have become “a little more associated with the community.”
Berry understands how special Jacksonville State is and has seen first hand the impact the university has on it’s students and alumni. “What a beautiful campus and school and community they have there,” Berry says. “I know the few years that my daughter was involved with Spirit and being there on campus how much she enjoyed that, and we enjoyed coming down there. And our friends that graduated from there and how much that school means to them and I’m sure that feeling is with lots and lots of people.”
In addition to helping raise funds for the university, Berry hopes his involvement with the benefit concert will help the JSU community heal emotionally. “Just that whole emotional edge of it, where everybody has a chance of resolving in their hearts what’s happened and that it can all be fixed.”
Berry is currently celebrating his success with the title track for Beautifully Broken, a faith-based movie released in August 2018. He says he is looking forward to playing the song at Burgess-Snow Field on September 26. “I’m thrilled to death with it,” Berry says of “Beautifully Broken” which held the #1 spot on the Christian Music Weekly Chart for 5 weeks, according to an article on johnberry.com.
“So many people can relate to [this song] on so many different levels. Because in different ways everybody has brokenness in their life, and here’s a song that talks about our Lord and Saviour that He loves us in spite of our brokenness and through our brokenness.”
The website for Beautifully Broken, the movie, explains the message behind the film: “As three fathers fight to save their families, their lives become intertwined in an unlikely journey across the globe, where they learn the healing power of forgiveness and reconciliation.”
“The whole story of these three families and how God wove together this beautiful tapestry that only He could have woven where these people literally save each others lives is pretty incredible,” Berry adds.
“Beautifully Broken” was produced by award-winning producer, Chuck Howard, who also co-wrote the film. “Chuck Howard is a good friend and he’s produced all my hits songs I’ve had on the radio over the years,” Berry says. “He knew what key it needed to be in. He knew what instruments to wrap around my voice to make it sound right, to make it pop.”
Berry shared with me a special connection he has with the Jenny Slate Lee who wrote “Beautifully Broken”.
“Years ago I heard a song on the radio that’s called “Ships That Don’t Come In” by Joe Diffie, and I heard that song about 2:00 in the morning in February 1992. I was driving home after playing a club in Athens, Georgia, and that song affected me. When Joe sang those words ‘Those that stand on empty shores should spit against the wind and those who wait forever for ships that don’t come in’ it occured to me that I had never dreamed bigger than being a club singer in Athens, GA.”
Berry says he had recorded six albums on his own at that point, and he was playing clubs in Athens and had a huge following. He and his wife lived on a little farm north of town, and when Berry got home early that morning he says, “I woke Robin up and I said ‘I’ve had bigger dreams than just being a club singer, we’ve had bigger dreams’. We sat up and made a plan to go to Nashville every six weeks and do an industry showcase and do it for a year, and if we didn’t get any interest, we’d punt. Well we did. I ended up getting a record deal with Capitol Records because of the first showcase that we did.”
“Jump forward to now and recording “Beautifully Broken” that was written by Jenny Slate Lee. Her father was the producer of the song “Ships That Don’t Come In” by Joe Diffie. She was in the studio when they recorded that song, as a kid, and here all these years later because of this song Joe recorded that her dad produced which altered the direction of my life and here all these years later we’re intertwined again. God’s funny.”
When asked how his faith has impacted his career, Berry says “I don’t really worry about how my faith has helped me in my music, I want it to be the driving force in my life. My career and all that is just something I do. My music and all that isn’t the important stuff. The important stuff is my family and relationships with friends. Music’s just a way to make a living and enjoy getting to do that and sharing with people, but I’m always very cautious about the kind of music I do. I always tried to do songs that are uplifting and heart healing and that sort of thing. I even have a few sad songs like “If I Had Any Pride Left At All”, but songs like that is a story to heal the soul, kind of makes you feel like you’re not alone.”
Berry will embark on his 22nd annual Christmas tour this November. “It’s so awesome… It’s been a lot of people’s family tradition to come that show and it’s just really awesome to be a part of people’s lives like that. I love getting to sing that music about Christ’s birth and celebrating that.”
Berry is one of nine acts participating in Alabama and Friends Benefit Concert at Burgess-Snow Field on September 26.