John Berry admits he underestimated the power of a podcast. Actually, the country hitmaker says he wasn’t even really aware of what they were until about a year ago.
Now the 61-year-old and his wife Robin are stunned by how willing guests like Scott Hamilton, Kim Campbell (wife to the late Glen Campbell) and Darry Worley have been to open up to them, often without knowing the couple for much longer than it takes to heat a pot of coffee.
“The point of our podcast is to share with our listeners how their faith, their family and their friends have influenced their lives but also their careers,” Berry tells Taste of Country. “It’s been amazing the stories we’ve heard.”
Faith, Family & Friends releases new episodes twice each month. Chris Hillman from the Byrds and Billy Dean are two guests listeners have heard from recently. They started with a sit-down with Charlie Daniels. In fact, the conversation would be Daniels’ final interview before his July 6 death in Tennessee.
“In the first 19 minutes he talks about being in heaven three times,” Berry says, recalling how painstakingly he edited the episode in an effort to preserve every possible moment.
Berry — best known for hits including “She’s Taken a Shine” and “Your Love Amazes Me” — tours regularly in a normal year, with his signature Christmas show filling up venues nationwide as he has for years. He’s writing and recording, less with an eye on commercial success and more with an eye on his heart. He talks about writing a song called “The Long Goodbye” (still unreleased) that deals with dementia. His mother-in-law recently moved to a memory care facility near his home. They’re very close.
“Robin’s mom was a mom to me longer than my mom was a mom to me,” he shares, recalling his own mother’s death when he was only 20.
Throat cancer threatened his livelihood in 2019, but he’s now cancer-free and appreciative of experiences that have allowed him to have fresh eyes and fresh ears for new music.
“If I did not let in those events that I went through in that time in my life, that difficulty, then it’s not art,” he says. “It’s just trying to make a buck.”
He keeps walking through open doors, be it a mission trip to Rwanda, a biography or this newest venture, one that came by suggestion from John. St. Augustine. Along with Robin, the trio were just chatting one day, and he said, “You two are so funny together, you oughtta do a podcast,” Berry recalls. “I’m like, a what?”
The singer talked to Taste of Country during the Country Radio Seminar in February of 2021.