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James Otto’s First Song on the Radio Wasn’t a Big Hit, But He Still Loved It

James Otto Blaster Records
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

In 2008, James Otto earned his first No. 1 song, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You;” the single became Billboard‘s No. 1 country song of the year that year. However, it took Otto a few years to get there: Between when he signed to Mercury Nashville in 2002 and released “Just Got Started Lovin’ You,” Otto put out four other things, only one of which cracked the Top 40.

Otto’s first single, “The Ball,” came in 2002. It peaked at No. 45 on the charts — but the singer can still remember where he was when he heard it on the radio for the very first time.

We were making a tour of Florida; we were getting exposed to the way radio does business. It was something that was completely new to me.

I was driving away from a radio station — I had just done a radio visit, and we were heading to another station. They said, “Here’s a young man who was just in our radio station and played a song that we really loved, and we’re going to play it for y’all.” We rolled down the windows and cranked it up as loud as it would go and celebrated. The song was my first single, called “The Ball.” That was a long time ago: It was 2002.

It’s one of those things you work your whole life for. So when you get a chance to hear your song go out over the radio waves, it’s a pretty exhilarating moment. I called all the people that were important to me — my mom and my family. I said, “I’m listening to it on the radio; check it out!” My family eventually heard it on the radio. It wasn’t a really big hit, but I always loved the song.

This story was originally written by Pat Gallagher, and revised by Angela Stefano.

NEXT: Darius Rucker’s Second First Time on Radio Was Just as Exciting as His First One

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