Grammy nominated artist James Otto hasn’t let up since the release of his newest record Shake What God Gave Ya, and up to expectations, it hasn’t disappointed. Balancing his busy schedule touring with Toby Keith and Trace Adkins, winning multiple Grammy, ACM, and CMA awards, and the birth of his daughter Ava Katherine, Otto continues to be making waves with his unique style blending country with his unique, gritty, R&B power-filled voice.
Otto received his breakthrough in the country world when his smash hit “Just Got Started Loving You” reached the top of the charts. In addition, James also co-wrote the smash hit “In Color” by Jamey Johnson, which propelled him farther into to the country music spotlight when both songs received Grammy nominations for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Country Song of the Year.
When asked about his first breakout hit, Otto says, “I had no clue that ‘I Just Got Started Loving You’ would be so big. I thought it was a cool song and people would like it, but the initial reaction wasn’t like it was the greatest thing everyone ever heard. Once it was out on the radio and everyone started to pick up on it, then it kind of went from there. There is never a real knowing about how big or not a song will be.”
Through the connection to his fans at his live shows, Otto recently launched a new concert series called “Thursday Thursdays” on StageIt.com, where he brings exclusive live streaming concerts to his fans via the internet. In the comfort of his home studio, he’s able to give his fans front row seats to hear his brand-new music and familiar hits, as well as communicate with fans via live chat.
“StageIt.com is one of the most revolutionary tools an artist has these days. You can sit in your bedroom, the back of the bus, or wherever you have a wifi connection and play concerts for your fans right there and let them connect with you,” Otto says. “As long as I have an internet connection, I play a concert every other Thursday. Fans can hear what new songs I’m working on as well as some older ones that everyone hopefully enjoys.”
The release of Otto’s newest record Shake What God Gave Ya has given him the ability to utilize all of the tools that he uses in his live show on this record.
“It gave me all of the soulful, danceable, feel that I wanted this album to have that my previous albums haven’t had that I’ve been doing in my live show.” Otto continues, “My live show is a very upbeat, soulful, good-time kind of a show, and that’s what this record needed to reflect, and I think we did a good job with it.”
Otto continues to be constantly writing songs and plans for a new project he hopes to get started within the next six months to a year.
“My songwriting schedule is pretty much happening every week, and I still write two to three songs in a particular week. Right now, I’m very focused on making a new project come together within the next year. That’s where my focuses lay right now when I’m not spending time with my daughter and family,” said Otto. “There has been a lot of growth and change that has happened within the past year of my life, and I’m sure all of that stuff will leak out into these songs and get on the new record.”
While his musical style is dubbed “Country-Soul” by most, his influences like Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty, Ray Charles, Hank Williams, Jr., Bob Seger, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson have really put a stamp on Otto’s signature sound that keeps growing and developing.
By Kyle Wilkerson