Born on the Fort Lewis Army Base in Washington State, James Otto's musical odyssey began when he started singing at age 4. The natural musician played violin briefly and spent five years playing saxophone, but what he really wanted was a guitar.
When Otto went to live with his father at the age of 13, he got one.
"My father showed me G, C and D," says Otto, "and the next day, I was playing along with Van Halen. From that moment, it's been a hunger, wanting to be as good as I could be."
But Van Halen wasn't the only group Otto was drawn to. He also loved the country rock of Hank Williams Jr. and Alabama and the outlaw music of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. In high school, Otto heard the rocking blues of Travis Tritt and the Kentucky Headhunters, and the strapping football player decided he'd turn in his uniform and make music his focus.
After high school, Otto joined the Navy for two years. He was following in the military footsteps of his grandfather and his father (an Airborne Ranger), who is still an Army drill sergeant. Following his military duty, Otto started playing full time in bands all over the Northwest. It was an honest living, but the singer-songwriter grew tired of playing cover songs and being background music in noisy bars. He sold almost everything he owned and moved to Nashville in 1998.
When he arrived, he attended every writer's night he could find and was overwhelmed by the talented songwriters he heard. "Those writers shaped me," he says. "By watching them, I figured out how they mesmerize a crowd with their words and the way they deliver a song. That changed me from being a club singer that does covers and tries to write on the weekend to someone who really strives to create their own art."
Eventually people started coming to see Otto at those writers' nights, and before long, he had inked a deal with Mercury records Nashville. James recorded his debut album and found his way on tour with Shania Twain, who asked him to open shows on the U.S. leg of her 2003-2004 Up! tour.
Realizing that he had evolved as a musician, James put the first record behind him. With this new perspective he set out to show his wares live every Tuesday night with what is now known at The Muzik Mafia. James played every Tuesday night with his friends Big and Rich, Gretchen Wilson, John Nicholson and others. He collaborated with his friends and tried his new material on the growing crowds that the Muzik Mafia had started to draw. Soon James came to a place of clarity about his musical direction and the new music reflected just that! Now on tour with The American Revolution Arena tour featuring Big and Rich and Gretchen Wilson, Jon Nicholson and, of course, James Otto.
James is currently writing the songs for his new record entitled "The Otto Show" to be recorded this December-January with John Rich as producer. "The Otto Show" will spawn a single to radio in Feb-March. James will be seen nationally on CMT's new series, The Muzik Mafia Show, starting in late January. He will also be a part of the 60 minute special in December. 2005 is looks very promising for this musician who, with the help of his extended family, has become one of Nashville's most likely to succeed.
THE OTTO SHOW
The Otto Show is Raybaw/Warner Bros. recording artist James Otto and his band bringing a high energy, revved up, country rock-n-soul party to the stage. If NASCAR was a song, this is what it would sound like. The Otto Show promotes the basic hot rod values of speed, sleek good looks, muscle and sound. The Otto Show appeals to the backyard mechanic in all guys and to every girl who has waited to be picked up for her first date and felt her heart jump as she heard the rumble of the car pulling up in the driveway.
James Otto is an American renaissance man who can talk shop with the guys, sing a love song to the girls and bring a whole audience together with his larger then life voice and his 6'5" linebacker frame. With Jesse James, Monster Garage and the crew from west coast choppers becoming cultural icons, James Otto is poised to be the musical voice for the hot rod mentality that has captured the public psyche.
An integral part of the MuzikMafia, the outlaw musical movement from Nashville that has spawned multi-platinum artists Big and Rich and Gretchen Wilson, James is set to step out on his own journey as a solo artist. James sees The Otto Show as a musical traveling circus of cars, bikes, good times and great music. As an artist, James appeals to the core demographic of country music, the 18-35 year old female and more importantly to the long overlooked male demographic that has been waiting for a new Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings to speak to them in their language.
James has recently been featured prominently in the CMT television show "MuzikMafia TV" and is currently touring with Big and Rich and will tour with the Chevy Presents...Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich, The American Revolution Tour in November and December. His tremendous media exposure and upcoming video, single and album release make James and The Otto Show a perfect partner for corporate sponsors looking to tap into the lucrative NASCAR crowd and other easily identifiable groups of consumers.
The Otto Show is a great concept wrapped around an even more compelling artist. James has immediately one of the strongest and most recognizable voices in the format. He is a true singer/songwriter composing all of his own material in conjunction with his MuzikMafia peers and other Nashville standout tunesmiths. His album, which he is co-producing with John Rich, is a full frontal assault of dynamic up-tempo songs and swaggering ballads all anchored by his soulful vocal style.
Welcome to The Otto Show, and get ready for a ride!
--- from the official James Otto website