Undoubtedly, Tebey Ottoh is best known as a songwriter. He’s written for artists as diverse as Canadian pop star Shawn Desman, U.K. R&B/soul songstress Pixie Lott, and country artists including Tara Oram, Doc Walker and superstars Big and Rich.
He remains a prolific and diverse songwriter and has recently written multiple songs for Emerson Drive’s 2012 release, Roll, Smash Mouth’s comeback single, “Magic,” and provided two cuts for worldwide pop sensation One Direction’s sophomore effort, Take Me Home.
Tebey’s first love, however, is performance, a passion he’s nurtured since first taking the stage at the Burlington, Ont., church he attended as a child. Ever since, the now Nashville-based singer-songwriter has wanted to release a record of his own, a dream he finally realized in November 2012 with his debut album, The Wait.
“Writing and recording this record was a matter of learning to go with my heart, and record the songs I love.”
Aptly titled, The Wait isn’t so much a transition for Tebey as a return to his roots as a recording artist and performer in his own right. “I’ve always written different genres of music because I don’t think music should be put into a box,” he says. ‘I grew up listening to everything, and I take those influences into my songwriting sessions, but when it comes to my artist career, it’s definitely country.”
Tebey’s career as a performer began early on. At age 16 he signed with Nashville-based MCA Records and moved to Tennessee with his father to hone his craft. A publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music and a singles deal with RCA Nashville followed.
While his 2002 single “We Shook Hands (Man to Man)” garnered Tebey a Canadian Radio Music Award nomination for Best New Male Country Artist, broke the Top 40 U.S. Billboard Country Singles Chart and hit No. 3 in Canada, ultimately, RCA decided to shelve his album.
Tebey returned to Canada and focused on songwriting, but didn’t give up on his dream of writing a record expressly for his own voice; a collection of songs that, although definitely country, were also informed by his love of R&B/Soul and rock.
“When I write for myself it’s harder because it’s easier to second-guess things,” he says. “Writing and recording this record was a matter of learning to go with my heart, and record the songs I love that, hopefully, other people will love too.”
• “All About Tonight,” performed by Pixie Lott, was nominated for a 2012 Brit Award for British Single of the Year, and became Tebey’s first No. 1 U.K. single.
• “Somewhere In The Country,” Tebey’s latest single, was released Sept, 28, 2012.
• Tebey recorded his unreleased 2002 album with iconic producer Bob Rock.