Berry interviewed by JaVonne Harris
I'm here with Ms. Charlie Berry, thanks doll for
the chance to interview you.
CB: It's my pleasure
thank y'all for
JH: No problem
JH: So how did you get into music?
CB: I literally can remember being a little
girl and I could speak little words like hi and
bye and I really couldn't understand what they were
saying...but I would be singing all loud with radio,
it's just always been something I love. It's funny
I can remember one experience in pre-k, I went to
Kiddie Kollege and we had a performance over at
Hannah Hall, at TSU and I was such a diva
just had to get out front. My grandmother is a music
teacher and she taught violin in H.I.S.D., so the
violin was my first instrument and then piano but
I stuck with voice. What happened was, we kind of
moved around for a short time in my life but the
voice you can take anywhere with you
you go! My dad also has a musical background, he
plays the French horn, the bass and he can also
sing. He was in the first graduating class of HSPVA.
So he would always play songs for me on his bass
when I was growing up and I used to sing along with
him and that's how I really got a love for it.
Tell me about your training growing up, formal or
CB: I use to go to choir rehearsal with my
grandmother but my upbringing was a little different,
we were episcopal and I also went to catholic school.
We sang hymns but we didn't sing gospel songs but
I would sit in with them. Even the group I was in,
we would go to whoever's house to practice dance
steps and go over our arrangement. I also had certain
teachers who took an interest in me and helped me
out. I started taken voice lessons in high school.
What high school did you go to? I went to high school
in Massachusetts; actually I went to a boarding
school. When I was in middle school my counselor
approached me about boarding school. I ended up
applying and getting in. I really had an opportunity
to really travel the world when I was in high school.
I went to Turkey, Greece, The United Kingdom, and
Scotland for about a month. We did New York, D.C.
and we also did a Texas tour. We went to Houston,
Dallas and San Antonio. My teachers were classically
trained but I was president of the gospel choir
in high school, so I had the opportunity to do both.
I was in a madrigals group that sung all acapella
and then I actually ended up getting into Rice University
for music. Me and my music teacher had an oil and
water relationship, I knew that I didn't want to
be an opera singer but I wanted to get that background
and it was really hard because I had my own band
too. I was performing at least once a week, if not
twice a week and trying to make the grade was a
lot! And my music teacher didn't really understand
popular music and I didn't want to do opera
we didn't get along. So what's your degree in? Music,
my focus is voice.
JH: What's your biggest challenge
I think to me the number one thing is the internal
just to believe in yourself enough
to say that you really have something to offer.
Because it's tough, especially when things happen,
I think that just keeping the faith through it all,
you know? I still love it and I still have the desire
to really touch people. I think just to continue
to believe and just fight through everything. I
think that's part of what I have to sing about,
just to share with people. To say that everyone
has trails, you just have to keep on pushing. There
have been some things that happen to me personally,
like losing my sister
I lost her at a time
when I was pursuing my career. I was out there doing
this reality show, supposedly and while I was there,
my sister died and I didn't even get to say goodbye
when I left because I was rushing trying to get
on the plane and go. I was in L.A. and it wasn't
really a legitimate opportunity. I think that's
another thing, just trying to figure out who's real
and who's not.
JH: How has your music evolved over
Ummm I think the way that it has changed is because
it's more of my spirit and faith coming out of the
music...and I think that's really huge. Whereas
before, I always believed in God but I always listened
to people say things like, "are you gospel",
"are you this or are you that". If you
listen back to a lot of the stuff I have done, there's
hardly anything out there that I did that I'm not
now I may have sung on a song with
somebody who was saying whatever, but I didn't do
that because I was always so conscious of my gift.
But now I just feel like hey, we're one and the
I love music, I love art, I love being
able to express myself and I love God. And now I
don't feel like those things have to be so separate
and that's where I feel like I've evolved. Just
to understand that hey, I'm me and I can be who
I am and share that with the people
to me has been the biggest change.
JH: What is the ultimate direction
for your music?
I really want to
I want to touch the world;
I want to travel the world. One of the things I
would like to do eventually is incorporate other
languages into my music and that speaks back to
my classical training because I've sung in all different
languages. German, Russian, Latin, Spanish, French
and I've always had a passion for languages too
but that's something I'd like to do because music
is such a universal thing
just to able to say
a phrase to the people, wherever they are in their
own language. Even the old stars from back in the
day like Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra had songs
in other languages or with at least a phrase like,
"Que Sera, Sera
Whatever Will Be, Will
Be". So I want to do that, I just want to be
apart of people's lives and I don't want to be an
object of desire but when I think about how many
singers I just love and it could even be from just
one song or three that I've heard from them, but
that made them apart of my life
they are apart
of the soundtrack of my life. And I remember a lot
of those things that I've heard in my life, period
just apart of me. That's what I want to do; like
when someone has a memory
I would love to be
apart of that memory or even if it's something to
help them through a tough time.
JH: What's your favorite style of
A favorite style of music that would be hard to
pick, there is so much and I love so much
would have to say jazz. I listen to a lot of Billie
Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. I love a lot of gospel
like CeCe Winans and I like Otis Redding. So you
have a lot of jazz and gospel, especially the singers
that have clear way of communicating to me
Yolanda Adams and CeCe Winans. Classic R&B like
The Isleys, Aretha Franklin
I grew up trying
to sing Mary J. Blige songs and we would arrange
the harmonies and stuff like that because I loved
her so much. And you know what, I love a lot of
classical music too
so all of those are apart
of my life.
JH: What keeps you in this
keeps you going?
CB: It's definitely tough and like I said
before I've definitely had some road blocks, that
I've had to say "ok, get back up on the horse
and get back in the saddle". What keeps me
going is that music is such a part of me and I just
can't imagine not doing it. You know, just knowing
that there is something that I can share because
you listen to all these voices of people and everyone
has their own tambour, their own texture and their
own way of delivery. And I have my own and so if
I'm not doing it to the best of my ability and sharing
this gift, then I feel like I'm falling short a
little bit in the purpose of my life. I really do
think that I have a something unique, just to be
able to reach people and help them heal. The main
thing is just knowing that we're all in this together
and just to encourage each other to keep going and
to keep growing.
What is the impression you want to leave or what
do you want people to take from your music?
CB: I would like them to have a new perspective
on how they always thought about things, maybe change
their mind about something or just to feel like
they want to be better or to do better. Not that
I'm telling them that they aren't but its more like
stay on the path and live your dreams, I would say.
That's huge, live your dreams and follow your calling
what I would want people to know and don't be afraid.
There's a line from one of my songs that says, "I'm
where I'm supposed to be right now, and right now
is the time for conquering unbelief
I just want people to know that wherever they are,
they can go from that moment and move forward
make the decisions, put in the work and do whatever
it takes to get where you're suppose to be.