05/20/2008 11:08 AM ET
A new voice for the Braves
Country star James Otto records theme song for Atlanta
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
James Otto is a 34-year-old country singer enjoying the success of his first hit single, and he doesn't hesitate to describe the experience in baseball terms.
"It's like finally making it to the Major Leagues," Otto says. "You work your whole life to get the opportunity and you better be ready for it when it comes. I was writing songs in Nashville for 11 years and I was ready for the opportunity."
The song, "Just Got Started Lovin' You," hit No. 1 not long after the release of his debut album, Sunset Man, and the recognition led to Otto getting the gig for the new official theme song of the Atlanta Braves.
That song, "The Braves Play Here," was composed by G. Barnhill and Randy Wachtler for 615 Music and has been featured on TV stations in five states, including Tennessee, to promote the Braves' season.
Otto was hand-picked by the songwriters and jumped at the chance to sing for and about a baseball team.
"I grew up playing and loving the game, but I don't get a chance to watch much of it on TV anymore because I'm so busy," says Otto, who was an outfielder through middle school.
"Thankfully I got the chance to do this."
Otto says that without a Major League team in Music City, it's natural for Nashville baseball fans to flock to the somewhat-nearby Braves.
"Atlanta's basically the team of the South," Otto says. "They're not just Atlanta's team. So it was something I thought was cool. I've always loved the Braves and they're kind of a dynasty."
Otto says he got a kick out of the video shoot, which took place on the diamond in Turner Field, included "all of the Tomahawk Girls," plus the mascot, Homer.
"It was really cool," Otto says. "It was the first time I had been down on that field, and even though I've seen it on TV, it's always different to actually be there in the middle of something that means so much to so many people."
Otto had previously been in one other big-league ballpark -- PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where he performed along with country stars Big and Rich -- and says now that he's had a few tastes of The Show, he'd like to sing in stadiums more often.
"We've talked about doing the National Anthem, and I'd really like to," Otto says. "It's always cool to step in front of those fans. A lot of country music fans are also baseball fans. It would be a great thing."
And Otto's career in country music is a great thing right now. He's moved up from the Minors to the Majors quickly and says he's appreciated every bit of help he's gotten along the way.
"The album and single have changed my life in a lot of ways," Otto says. "It gives me the opportunity to hopefully build my name and my business and hopefully be ready to sing for the rest of my life."
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.