James Otto ‘Goosed’ by Ronnie Milsap
James Otto counts Ronnie Milsap as a big musical influence and often performs Ronnie's hit, 'Stranger In My House,' during his sets as tribute. Therefore, when James wrote a tune for his new album that was inspired by 'Stranger,' he knew the track wouldn't be complete without help from his hero. Ronnie happily obliged, and can be heard on the soulful song called 'Good Thing Gone Bad.'
"Seeing Ronnie sit in a room and read Braille with his fingertips and sing was an amazing experience," James tells The Boot. "We read the word on paper all the time and it seems so natural to us. He's never had sight and doesn't know what it's like to read, so to see him run his hands across there and feel those lyrics and sing them, it must be completely second nature to him. That was an interesting thing for me to see. I had never really seen that happen before, but it was awesome!"
James got a bit of a surprise from Ronnie at the end of the session, too. "Ronnie is also a really funny guy," James explains. "We were getting our picture taken, and to get me to smile bigger, he goosed me! It was a neat experience to see that this guy's a character. He's been around a long time, and he's a funny guy."
The singers also share a mutual musical hero in Ray Charles, and James had the opportunity to hear a touching story about Ronnie and Ray. "He talked about being a young kid and meeting Ray. He told us how Ray inspired him to really take music seriously and go after it," James recalls of a conversation with Ronnie. "And being a young, blind, white kid who played piano and had a soulful voice, I think he really got something out of what Ray said to him. I think it led to him becoming who he became. That was really interesting to hear."