Todd Berry has been involved in the music business for more than 25 years, opening for country stars Neal McCoy and Collin Raye and performing as an Elvis tribute artist in Las Vegas, all without seeing the reaction of the audience.
The Grove City singer, songwriter and producer was born legally blind.
“I think if I had been able to see all my life, I would be leading a very different life and probably finding it easier to get involved in things I shouldn’t be doing,” Berry said.
Music gives people an outlet to ‘see’ and feel things from the heart, said Berry, 41.
“I have such a big love for people, and I express that through music,” he said. “I have such a desire in my heart to help people.”
A conversation with a minister backstage at a show in 2014 led Berry to a deeper spiritual journey, he said.
His faith has inspired Berry to create a new weekly family entertainment night held at the church he attends, Calvary Road Community Church, 5108 Norton Road in Grove City.
The free shows are held from 7 to 9 p.m. Fridays in the church sanctuary and include a variety of music styles.
“We’re trying to make it something that will appeal to young people, but not as something Mom and Dad just drop their kids off at,” Berry said. “We want this to be something the family enjoys together.”
Since the Concerts at Calvary program began in July, the shows have featured everything from a gospel tribute to Elvis to Damac, a Christian rap artist, to SlawDog, a Christian rock band.
“We’re trying to do a blend so it can touch all age groups,” said the Rev. Steven Crabtree, co-pastor at Calvary Road and Berry’s father-in-law.
“It’s a funny thing,” he said. “There are all kinds of bars and nightclubs open on a Friday night, but it’s hard to find a church that’s open.”
The series “offers people a chance to enjoy some good Christian-based entertainment,” said the Rev. Gilbert Jarrell, the other co-pastor.
“We’re not trying to hit you over the head with a religious message,” he said.
If someone’s faith is inspired by the music they hear, that’s the ticket, Jarrell said.
Berry created Todd Berry Enterprises in 2015 as a full-service Christian-based entertainment and ministry company.
The company provides family entertainment for weddings, churches and special events, as well as resources for performers, he said.
“Ultimately, I’d love to establish a theater-type of operation, kind of like what you’ll find in Branson, Missouri, where people could come seven nights a week, maybe have a meal and enjoy some wholesome, family-oriented entertainment,” Berry said.
On Thursday, Oct. 3, the first episode of “The Todd Berry Gospel Hour” will premiere on YouTube and Roku TV.
“It’s going to be a weekly hour show with people giving their personal testimony mixed in with singers and musicians performing,” Berry said.
He said he would post a link to watch online via his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/toddb17, when the show is live. He is producing eight episodes, he said.
Along with the show, Friday night programs and performances as part the gospel duo he formed with his wife, Amy McCoy, Berry also regularly entertains at nursing homes and senior-care centers around central Ohio.
“My favorite part about that is seeing the impact music can have on the residents at a nursing home,” he said.
After a recent performance, a facility staff member told him about a resident who typically is withdrawn joyfully getting up and raising her hands as Berry had performed.
“You hear something like that – it gives you such a good feeling,” Berry said. “You can try to do anything you want to, but when you give yourself to God, he’s going to give you things and help you accomplish things you never could do otherwise.”
Upcoming artists scheduled for the Concerts at Calvary series include the Murphys & Rick Alan on Friday, Oct. 4; Victory Trio Live on Oct. 11 and the Solid Rock Bluegrass Band on Oct. 18.
Admission is free, but offerings to help cover show expenses and pay for the performers are accepted, Jarrell said.
More information about Berry is available at www.toddberryonline.com. More information about the church can be found at tinyurl.com/y2edto2h.
Updates to the Concerts at Calvary schedule are available at www.facebook.com/groups/205115482920145/events.