For more than 20 years, musical family members have been a part of the local blockbuster
Pam Clifton, Contributing Writer
Music has been a passion for the Berry family for multiple generations. Alan’s parents, Clyde and Phyllis Berry, were in gospel music quartets before he was born.
“Music has been a part of our family history for years and years,” said Alan.
Alan started playing piano in high school. He and brother Steve started a quartet and went through several piano players in a short time because they all quit.
Alan decided to take one piano class while in college but didn’t take any more and instead learned to play by watching others play. He also taught himself to play guitar in 1986.
Younger brother Doug joined the quartet later and played drums. The trio – The Berry Brothers – traveled all over the U.S. as early as 1976. They stopped traveling in the early 1980s to focus on local ministries and then started traveling again in 1995.
They’ve recorded numerous albums and performed at places like Silver Dollar City, Six Flags, Dogpatch USA, and in Branson. Most of their concerts are in churches or at events such as Country Days.
About three years ago, the brothers added Alan’s wife Marilyn and daughter Alayna to their group and renamed it as The Berry Singers. The group performs about 25 dates a year, including The Baby Boomer Reunion Concert, History of Country Music concert and their family’s annual Christmas concert.
Alan’s family has a well-established passion for music.
Wife Marilyn also grew up singing in church and plays piano. Their daughter Alayna Grace’s first vocal performance was at 18 months when she sang “God Bless America” at the Plummer Family Theatre.
Now Alayna and husband Matthew’s 2-year-old daughter Vera Jean is developing that same passion for singing.
Music is one way the Berry family stays so closely connected.
“There’s something unique about the blend of voices within a family,” said Alan. “The tonal qualities gel so well together.”
Marilyn added that if there’s ever a disagreement, there’s a quick way to resolve it: “Alan can settle every argument we’ve ever had by simply sitting down and playing the piano and I just melt.”
Alan joined the well-known Baby Boomer Reunion Concert in 2002 and Marilyn in 2003. Alayna’s first Baby Boomer performance was in 2013.
Now the family takes the stage together yet again, this time at the 21st annual Baby Boomer concerts at the Farmington Centene Center.
The family is excited to be reunited with their friends who have become family.
“It doesn’t matter if we only see each other once a year,” said Marilyn, “because we pick up right where we left off and we have so much fun while we’re performing together.”
She continued, “The friendships we have had for decades were brought together by our common love for music.”
Alayna agreed and said Baby Boomers “feels like a family reunion when we are together each year. I look forward to seeing everyone.”
The Baby Boomers singers and musicians get together each year for a single performance on Thursday evening before the Friday and Saturday concerts.
“We try to do one run-through per song,” said Marilyn. “The instrumentalists are the core of the entire concert. We really don’t even need vocalists because the musicians could carry the whole concert fabulously!”
The close connections they’ve all made – and one special person – keep them all coming back year after year.
Alan, Marilyn and Alayna all said that special person is Kevin White.
“Kevin is my dear friend,” said Marilyn. “He is tireless, loyal, talented and a genius. I will sing anything he tells me to sing.”
Alayna added that she’s grown up knowing Kevin her entire life through church and concerts.
“He and his lovely family are such incredible people,” she said. “Kevin is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, and I feel so lucky to get to perform under him.”
Kevin is the mastermind behind the Baby Boomer Reunion Concert. He created the show as a gift to the community for the inaugural production of the opening of the Farmington Centene Center in August 2003.
This year is the 21st annual event. Each year has a specific theme.
Alan’s favorite theme so far is “Chicago.” Marilyn loved the “ABCs” theme, while Alayna enjoyed the “1969” theme. Marilyn’s favorite song she’s performed so far at Baby Boomers is Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe.”
The long list of concerts has created many wonderful memories for the Berry family.
Alan recalled when he performed “Guitarzan” twice, first as Tarzan and then 10 years later as the ape.
Marilyn laughed about a quick costume change in the dark behind the curtain, only to find out later that fellow performer Kurt Bauche had been tuning his tuba in the same location.
It’s guaranteed the Berry family will gain more memories and lots of laughter with this weekend’s Baby Boomer concerts.
Don’t miss the chance to see the Berry family and the rest of the amazing Baby Boomers on stage tonight at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Centene Center. Tickets are $13 and can be purchased at the Farmington Civic Center at 2 Black Knight Drive. For more information, call 573-756-0900.