Otis Gibbs is an American singer-songwriter, photographer, and podcaster who has independently self-released records outside the traditional record industry.
Gibbs was raised in Wanamaker, Indiana, a town outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a great songwriter as well as storyteller and related this story of his first gig to USA Today..
"When I was a kid growing up in Wanamaker (Ind.), my parents worked a couple different jobs apiece to make ends meet, and it would fall upon some of the strangest individuals to babysit me during the day. One of those people was my uncle. He probably wasn't the best choice because he'd just gotten out of prison, and it turned out he wasn't even my uncle after all; he was just shacking up with my aunt at the time.
But he would watch me and he got really bored, so he got this idea: He would take me down to this little honky-tonk saloon. He would sit me on top of the piano, and I would sing Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams songs while he accompanied me. The drunks in the bar would give me tip money to play whatever their request might be, and then my uncle would take that money and get drunk on it. That's when I first learned how the music industry actually works."
Gibbs also worked for over 10 years as a tree planter in Indiana. He estimated that he has "planted 7,176 trees" throughout his life.
Gibbs' songs feature stories about every day life and he has gained quite a reputation as a songwriter/storyteller. He has been compared to Woody Guthrie, Tom T. Hall, Kris Kristofferson, and Townes Van Zandt. Gibbs is also noted as "a storyteller's storyteller" who "symbolizes the true essence of the independent spirit thriving in the East Nashville neighborhood he calls home."
His most recent album, "Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth" has been described as "his most pleasing, direct and artful work in 12 years of pleasing, direct and artful recording" by the Tennessean. In addition, songs like "'The Darker Side of Me' have received much acclaim... Alan Harrison of 'No Depression' comments that 'If Johnny Cash was still alive today, I'm sure he would be the first in line to record 'The Darker Side of Me'"
Billy Bragg included Gibbs' song "The Peoples Day" in a list of "Top Five Songs with Something to Say", published in the Wall Street Journal. Andy Gill of the The Independent wrote that there is a "authenticity and dedication in Gibbs' delivery which is somehow cleansing in its purity".
Gibbs tours Europe and the UK regularly.