Jeff Ott
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Jeff Ott

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" Review"

Michigander, Jeff Ott's CD, "A Simple Life", is an 8-tune collection of rock pop tunes that are a throwback to the songwriting of the likes of Richard Marx with instrumentation that touches on 70's progressive keyboard bands and guitar break heroics - all wrapped up with updated production. The CD opens with "A Simple Life", Ott writes, 'i want a simple life. .while the world keeps spinning down i'll stay round here, are you coming with me sisters, it's just you and me and i don't have a care'. Track 2, "Let me Be the One", is an inspirational and dramatic piece of writing as Ott sings, 'when all is said and done, let me be the one'. Sadness is a thread that runs at least through two tunes on the record, 'Out of Reach' and 'The Dream is Over" as Ott sings of unrequited love with a passion and sincerity we can only imagine comes from experience. In '. .Reach', he writes, 'i want what i cannot have, never thought it would hurt so bad, but you're out of reach'. In '. .over', he writes, 'i gave you everything i had to give, i guess i'll never what might have been, no i realize the dream is over'. Both tunes have a David Foster production sense to it and we can easily hear a Cetera supported hit target for both songs. Ott's singing is beautiful and comfortable. The tone is that of a friend, and hearing the sadness of the content, you can't help but feel for the subject of the tune. Within the pop songwriting framework of the record, Ott throws a change with "So In Trouble". The playful blues based tune features some of the best guitar work on the CD by Dave Kellan. All tolled, the music satisfies through a pop journey that reveals the growth and experience of this talented singer/songwriter/keyboardist. We look forward to more.

02/11/2006 -

"Jeff Ott: Creates a Musical Excursion of Love & Fate Embodied by 'A Simple Life'"

While being a musician doesn't exactly make it a simple life, songwriter Jeff Ott has found a niche along the path to help smooth things out.

Currently visible with his role as keyboardist/vocalist with The Sinclairs, Ott has managed to release a debut CD of original material, which is picking up steam here in 2007.

With his songwriting based in the organic tell-tale twists of life, love and devotion, Ott has maintained a strident work ethic as a writer, penning his eight-track opus, A Simple Life, while playing with The Sinclairs and pulling a full time job that sometimes takes him out of state.

"I started writing around November 2005," said Ott during a recent phone interview. "I went to the Big Bear Studio, based in Midland, in December of 2005 and recorded the acoustic version of Out of Reach and just kind of went from there."

After taking up piano at the age of four and developing musically throughout his teenage years, Ott was destined to become a musician in some form. Having moved to Bay City in 1999, he was then married and noodling around the home with his musical ideas just before he joined The Sinclairs in 2004.

"I worked with a contemporary Christian band in college," he said. "I did some writing and recording there."

Gearing up to get his own style showcased, Ott started the process a few years ago and went to the studio as much as he could "as time and money would allow."

"The highlight of the recording was watching the whole musical process come together," notes Ott. "Going from an idea in your head to a full-blown song, that was really, really cool. Rick Armstrong over at Big Bear, he had the drums and bass for everything and we had a bunch of different guitarists play on the album. Just seeing how many different styles the people had and how musically it all came together, it came out really great."

The entire process came to fruition a few months ago at his record release party Oct. 20, 2006.
"I had the big release at the State Theatre, in October and then played a couple of coffee houses around the area. I've played at The Harvest coffee house in Bay City quite a bit."

While he doesn't really single out one song, Ott takes to heart the tracks Lost In A Moment and City Lights.

"My influences seem to center around Chicago, Bruce Hornsby, Phil Collins, and the stuff they write. I write a lot in that genre, music that is easy to listen to, easy to relate to and each song has an individual story behind it. I think that's what really connects with people when you can find a good story behind it."

"The CD is a lot about just who I am and relationships and I think people can relate to it and that's the biggest thing. You can hear the hurt in some of the songs and you can hear other emotions and whatnot in the material. That was the biggest key for me. People really know where I was coming from and they can relate to it."

Ott's ear for songwriting ideas comes just as much from his surroundings as it does from his muse.

"Usually how I write is by sitting down and starting to play something, thinking of a nice melody, and then finding the right words to fit the melody. It also just kind of depends on how I feel. I may have something come to my head in the car and then I go home and it becomes a song."

Let Me Be The One I wrote for a friend of mine who was going through a hard time and had just broken up with her boyfriend and she was really down in the dumps. I just put pen to paper."
He chose to release A Simple Life as an EP (extended play, rather than a full-length CD) mainly for monetary and time reasons.

The CD is ultimately what I wanted to do and I wanted it done right. By doing that I took almost a year or two to make it and mainly I kind of wanted to get it done. I'm working on other stuff right now for my sophomore release, but my key goal was to get (A Simple Life) out."
Jeff is looking to work in more acoustic situations right now and full band performance will happen as he sees fit.

"I'm not really actively promoting a full band, at least right now, just based on my work schedule which is getting busier and it's easier to schedule one person rather than five or six."
Ott is also using the Sonic Bids digital press kit website as a booster to jump into possible festivals this summer.

"I am hoping to play a little bit more, maybe once a month at coffee shops," he said. "A lot of it just depends on my work schedule, but I am trying really hard to get out and play a little bit more."

Ott is content in pushing A Simple Life for the majority of 2007 before he re-enters the studio again.

"I starting to do some writing right now and I'm going to see how it's coming along and then come back like a year from now. I definitely want to do it again."

For the time being, Ott is hoping to put some original music shows together with other local artists of a similar ilk and hopes to create showcase features ar - The Review Magazine - Article by Scott Baker

"Catching up with his heroes"

Local artist makes ballot for two Grammy awards

Singer-songwriter Jeff Ott, like many artists, is influenced by musicians including Elton John, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen.

Now, he shares something in common with those influences that not every musician who spins an album by The Boss for inspiration does.

Ott is on the ballot for the upcoming Grammy awards in two categories for work he did on his album “Simple Life.” He is in the running for best male pop vocalist and best pop album.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It’s pretty interesting especially considering who you see on the ballot — Billy Joel, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen ... It’s neat that someone thought I was good enough to get on the ballot.

“It’s also humbling,” he continued. “Some of my heroes are on there as well.”

This came about when his management company, Big Noise of Rhode Island, submitted his album for consideration for the awards. He didn’t think much of it at first, but was surprised to hear he made the ballot.

Granted, it’s an uphill battle from here, as there are numerous choices on each ballot that will be whittled down to the final few that make the ceremony. He’s facing marketing juggernauts such as Justin Timberlake.

“For the best pop album, there’s like 260 people on there,” he said. But it’s an honor to even be considered for the award, he said.

“I thought it was a long shot to even get on the ballot.”

“Simple Life,” the eligible album, was fueled by life experience and longtime desire to record an album.

“I was going through a lot of changes in my life,” Ott said. “It was a good avenue to get out a lot of feelings and emotions. I try to write music people can relate to. I also try to write music that I would like to listen to.”

Ott, of Bay City, has run the musical gamut during his career so far in both Lansing and the Tri-Cities. He started piano lessons at 4, performed in marching bands, played in a contemporary Christian band and had a stint with party group The Sinclairs. While he finds enjoyment in many musical pursuits, the solo act fits him perfectly for the time being.

“I miss (playing a lot of gigs) and the camaraderie of the guys,” Ott said, referring to his time with The Sinclairs. “But it’s me. When you hear the songs, that’s my heart pouring out.”

With “Simple Life” behind him, Ott now looks toward writing songs for a new album, expected to release in the spring. Ott and his fans will have to wait and see if he gets another shot at a statuette, depending on what the academy thinks.

For more on Jeff Ott, visit his website at
- Josh Grosteffon - Midland Daily News


A Simple Life - Released 2006



2008 Grammy Nominee Jeff Ott began playing piano at age 4 and songwriting at the age of 15. While at Michigan State University, he joined his first band in college, a Contemporary Christian group called the Revelation. For the Revelation, he co-wrote numerous songs with fellow band member Kyle Root. Together, they recorded a demo project at Glenn Brown Productions in East Lansing, MI. Although the demo was never picked up by a record label, Jeff continued to perform with the Revelation at local churches and youth events.

Another musical opportunity came Jeff’s way in 2004 when The Sinclairs Band invited him to be the lead keyboard player for the group. This Bay City, MI based band specializes in a high-energy rock show featuring songs from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Jeff honed his skills as a performer with this group – really learning how to entertain a crowd. While with The Sinclairs, he performed at numerous festivals throughout Mid-Michigan and opened for such acts as Gary Puckett and Peter Noone.

Jeff's first solo project, A Simple Life was released in October 2006 to great reviews. Here's a sampling of what people have said about Jeff and the CD, A Simple Life!

"A Simple a...collection of rock pop tunes that are a throwback to the songwriting of the likes of Richard Marx with instrumentation that touches on 70's progressive keyboard bands and guitar break heroics - all wrapped up with updated production" -

A Simple Life is a project with "...songwriting based in the organic tell-tale twists of life, love and devotion"...and " opus..." - The Review Magazine (

"Strong songwriting technique and performance"; "The listener needs to relate and (the) songwriting technique lends itself to that"; "...most elements are in place for a potential breakthrough." - Allure Media Entertainment

Most recently, Jeff has been nominated in two categories for the 2008 Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Album.