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North Georgia singer/songwriter delivers his own twists
John Berry, above, has been a local musician for more than 25 years. He has been writing and singing his own brand of music for most of his life.
John Berry
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Brenau University’s Hosch Theater, 429 Academy St., Gainesville
How much: $28
More info: 877-438-5646

At this point in his life, with dozens of albums under his belt and his very own Christmas tour that’s been going on for nearly 15 years, John Berry can do what he wants.

He can sing a country song. He can sing a contemporary Christian song. He can pen a song and record it and start playing it on concert dates, getting a good response from the crowd who’s never heard the song before.

“I’m old enough now, I’m starting to get to the age I can do what I want,” said the Watkinsville resident, who is performing Friday at Brenau University’s Hosch Theater in Gainesville.

“I’m just cutting a record of songs of music that I love. If it fits into a particular format, that’s great,” he added. “I’ve got a great following of people who love country music who listen to my music. There are lots of radio stations that have been really supportive.”

Born in South Carolina and living outside Athens for more than 25 years, Berry has been writing and recording songs for much of his life. His hits include “Your Love Amazes Me” and “What’s in it for Me” from 1994, “Standing on the Edge of Goodbye” from 1995 and “She’s Taken a Shine” was a No. 1 hit in 1997. In 2003 he released the “I Give My Heart” collection of classic wedding anthems and ballads. And fans may also have seen him on one of his annual Christmas tours, which started after the 1995 CD “O Holy Night.”

Berry cut his teeth in the Athens music scene for years before getting signed to his first major record label, playing in the area’s clubs for about eight years, he said. He’s been touring nationally since 1993.

Some of the music he’s recorded is his own and some has been written by friends or came from music publishers in Nashville, Tenn.

Berry said he looks for two things when picking a song for a new album: Melody and content.

“Some people, they just like how a song sounds. And I’m very specific about the types of songs I do,” he said, adding that he usually sings the song exactly how it was written, too.

“I usually don’t much change. If I hear a song, usually it will be pretty clear cut,” he added.

Berry is finishing up construction of a new house outside Watkinsville, and said he’s planning a recording studio in the first floor of his barn. Since he’s been producing his own albums since he was 19, Berry said he’s pretty meticulous in recording his music — although that’s like many musicians, he said.

“I like to be really hands on, maybe too much so,” he said. “We’re recording a song Saturday; I can’t wait. I wrote it on Thursday and then played it Saturday at the show.”

The song is called “Give Me Back My America.”

“I am just beside myself,” he said, of his excitement about recording the song.

Fans on Friday can expect an intimate show featuring new songs as well as old favorites, Berry said.

“This particular show Friday is just me and my four favorite guitars,” he said. “My wife Robin will probably come sing with me. And we’re just going to be unplugged.”