One year ago, country music star John Berry had wrapped up his 22nd annual Christmas tour, yet there were signs of trouble in his throat. Something didn’t feel right, and while it could just be the wear and tear of singing on the road, Berry had the issue checked out.
In January 2019, Berry made the announcement that changed his life. With his wife, Robin, by his side, Berry posted a video with the news.
“We started off this year with a hiccup, and we want to tell you a little bit about that,” Berry said. “Back in November when the tour was cranking up, I had a little catch in my throat. It felt exactly like the skin of a Spanish peanut was stuck in my throat. I couldn’t get rid of it. So finally, I got a flashlight and I looked down my throat, and my tonsils were really swollen. I went to see my nurse practitioner, and they put me on a round of steroids and antibiotics. It just never really did seem to improve.”
Berry sought out an examination from an ENT doctor, which specializes in the ears, nose and throat. The diagnosis was tonsil cancer. Two malignant tumors were removed, and his treatments began. The good news is that by this past August, Berry announced that he was cancer free.
So, that makes this now-23rd annual Christmas Songs and Stories tour a special one for Berry.
On Tuesday, Dec. 3, John Berry and his full band will bring his Christmas Songs and Stories tour to the Ironton High School Auditorium at 1701 South 7th St., Ironton. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets range from $35 to $60 VIP Meet and Greet opportunities.
Berry has always been a go-getter in the music business. Back before creating your own record label was cool, Berry had formed Clear Sky Records in the 1980s and released six albums, the last of which sold more than 10,000 copies and finally turned the heads of music executives in Nashville.
Once Berry signed to a bigger, national record label, he was nominated for a Grammy Award and had platinum and gold hits with songs such as “Standing On The Edge of Goodbye,” “You and Only You,” “Kiss Me In The Car” and “Your Love Amazes Me.”
“Well, no one was signing me, so I had to do what I had to do,” Berry said. “It was more of a necessity thing than anything else. I put records out on my own. It works out real well if you have a good marketing arm, or you do a distribution deal with a label that can help you with marketing and promotions. Promotions is insanely expensive, especially radio promotions. You have to have a partner with all of that to play in the big leagues. It’s an up and down business and a very fickle business. You just got to love playing music and going out on the road and performing and singing and writing songs and recording. You have to love it so much that you’re going to do it with the success or without the success.”
Berry has made his own history happen yet again in recent years. He created a Kickstarter campaign to fund two new albums that are out now, the country song-filled album “What I Love The Most” and a new holiday album called “Christmas,” which he will perform Dec. 3.
“The Christmas show is in two parts,” Berry said. “We’ll open the show and do some hits we’ve had in the past, and we’re doing a few songs off of the new record ‘What I Love the Most.’ Then, after intermission, we’ll come back and do about an hour of Christmas music. It will be very traditional. This five-song Christmas album we released has a couple of brand new songs on it that are not widely known. But I also do a new version of ‘You Raised Me Up’ because I’ve always loved that song and wanted to record it. We changed it a little bit so it has a bit of a Celtic feeling to it. We also did ‘Blue Christmas’ and came up with a really unique version of it that is more of a singer-songwriter kind of thing. It is very James Taylor-esque. We’re really proud of how that came out.”
Berry tours every holiday season because it is a connection with the audience that he truly enjoys. And, with his cancer diagnosis behind him, the shows are even more special.
“I love singing Christmas music,” Berry said. “This is not a generic holiday to me. This will be the ‘politically incorrect’ Christmas show because this is all about Jesus. That is what it is all about. Imagine that. I’d say that I’m a country artist that does some Christian music as well. We do a little bit of everything, actually.”