Now comes young Hunter Berry with his first CD, a mix of great old-time fiddle and bluegrass tunes masterfully played - Leather Britches, Fiddlers Dream, Ragtime Annie, and Billy in the Low Ground (a piece as liltingly beautiful as its title). It also includes more contemporary songs such as Blue Kentucky Girl; Rhonda Vincent's Hard Living; a hauntingly beautiful waltz composed by Hunter himself; and the title piece, Wow Baby.
The fact that some of the country's best known and most respected musicians of this genre - Marty Stuart, Rhonda Vincent, Bobby Osborne, Tony Rice, Doyle Lawson, Dan Tyminski, Sonya Isaacs, Buddy Spicer, etc. - have assisted Hunter on this, his first CD, is proof positive of their respect for him and his music.
Hunter Berry is a young musician of extraordinary talent, enthusiasm, and dedication. He hails from the beautiful hills of upper East Tennessee, known as the birthplace of country music.
Hunter's interest in the music of his fathers was manifested as a mere child in his native Elizabethton, Tennessee. He learned to play the spoons at age four, and at the age of nine he took up the fiddle. Under the tutelage of the noted old-time bluegrass fiddler Benny Sims and local musician and teacher David Yates, Hunter's prowess and intense dedication soon revealed that he was no ordinary kid with a fleeting fancy to become a professional musician.
Incredibly, by the time Hunter reached the eighth grade he had become a powerful fiddler. The nationally acclaimed Doyle Lawson, an icon of bluegrass gospel and old-time music, asked Hunter to join his band, Quicksilver. Because of his school commitment, Hunter and his parents, Clarence and Sherry, reluctantly turned down the offer. Soon thereafter, however, arrangements were made which enabled Hunter to continue his studies, and he spent a year with Melvin Goins. Once again Doyle Lawson approached the young Hunter, who this time accepted.
In 2002 the teenage fiddler joined Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, one of the most celebrated bluegrass bands in the country. He's won the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America honors for Fiddle Performer of the Year four consecutive years, and he has twice been nominated International Bluegrass Music Association's Fiddle Player of the Year.
Not only is Hunter a masterful old-time bluegrass fiddler, he is a student of the music, its history, and its roots. He is doing a remarkable job of carrying on a most basic and important part of our culture-the old-time fiddle tunes and traditional songs which were the soul of early country and bluegrass music.
The legendary John Hartford once told me of an old mountain fiddler who said, “I may not be a good fiddler myself, but, by God, I know one when I hear one.” That phrase comes to mind when I think of Hunter Berry. When his parents first brought him to play at the Museum of Appalachia's Tennessee Fall Homecoming, he captured the audience as few have ever done-and we all said, “Now, there's a fiddler.”
John Rice Irwin - Founder and President Museum of Appalachia, Norris, Tennessee