Performing Artist Bios—James Otto

James Otto will be making his first appearance at the Durango Songwriters Expo at the Santa Barbara Wine Country event scheduled for February 28 - March 2, 2013. Welcome James!    

James Otto may be 100 percent country, but he’s also got a heart full of soul. On his third album, Shake What God Gave Ya, Nashville’s breakout star puts his God-given lung power to work on a set of songs that make even more determined use of the old-school R&B grit in his powerhouse voice. “I look at my sound as somewhere between Nashville and Memphis,” says Otto, setting the new record’s compass point firmly on the map.        

Although Shake What God Gave Ya marks the first time he’s explored the country-soul sound so devotedly on record, it won’t come as any shock to anyone who heard his earlier smash, “Just Got Started Loving You.” Which is a category that should cover just about every country fan, since that tune was declared the No. 1 country single of 2008 by Billboard. When it came time to craft a full-length follow-up, Otto took that ringing vote of confidence as license to lean more heavily on those influences this time around. In other words, he just got started being soulful.     

“With ‘Just Got Started Loving You,’ the beat and groove of that song could easily have been ‘I got sunshine on a cloudy day…’—that kind of thing,” he says, jubilantly launching into a verse of the Temptations’ classic oldie “My Girl.” “And the fact that that went over at radio was an eye-opener for me, because it really opened the door for me to be able to do a lot more of that on this album. I never would have expected that it would have gone over the way it did. But I’m really thankful that it did. And hopefully the same people that loved that song will get a lot out of this record.”  

“We went straight after it this time, man,” says Otto. “My goal on this album was to make a country-soul album. My band and I were playing more of that kind of thing live, and it was really working for us. ‘Just Got Started Loving You’ was a perfect example of a great country-soul song, and I told everybody involved with this record, ‘Look, I want to have a whole album full of that, where it all sounds like it belongs on the same record.’ Like Ray Charles did Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, going in to do a country record, we were going to come at that from the other side.”                            

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