It’s a Tuesday morning in Nashville, Tenn., and there is a mild blizzard outside. Schools are closed, roads are frozen and the city is blanketed in a fresh cover of February snow.
Jamison Rotch ’95 has produced for Taylor Swift, he has written for CMT and Great American Country, but on this particular morning he assumes another role and bundles his kids up and ushers them out into the snow.
Rotch grew up in Birmingham and attended Auburn in the spirit of family tradition. His grandfather, mother, father and younger sister all attended Auburn and his great aunt was a professor in education there. He spent his time at Auburn much like any other student and majored in Mass Communications.
“What always sticks out to me about my time at Auburn was cramming for tests in the basement of the Haley center,” Rotch said. “It was like a Vegas casino in there with these bright lights and no clocks so you would never know what time of day it was. It was always an odd experience.”
Rotch describes his degree from Auburn as a head turner when he was looking for jobs. He said people were caught between disbelief that someone from Auburn had traveled as far to Los Angeles and New York and the accent also added a sense of displacement.
“My career all started with an internship with Original Programming Division in New York and then moved on to Los Angeles where I spent years out there sleeping on couches and working as a production assistant,” Rotch said. “I wanted to come back to the South and I was lucky that a script I wrote caught the attention of an agent who passed it to a producer and hooked me up with Nashville.”
The pilot script he wrote didn’t air, but it lead to Rotch writing for TV. When AMT bought CMT, they hired Rotch to write a live countdown show.
“I had never written TV before, but before I knew it, it was three years later and I had written over 1,500 hours of TV script,” Rotch said. “Anything can happen on live TV, which is why I like it so much. At the start of the day you have this script and then it’s on TV later in the day.”
He also met his wife Dottie ’96 while in Nashville and credits Auburn for breaking the ice. Rotch began working for different companies such as Comcast and CMT and worked as a writer and producer for the past 10 years.
“I never really have a typical day which is why I like what I do,” he said. “It depends on the product or what I’m working on, but I’m either working from home or the Starbucks down the street is basically my second office. It doesn’t happen very often, but my favorite part of the day is when I have time to just sit down and write.”
Rotch categorizes the most difficult part of his job is meeting new people and that building new relationships is essential for working on one’s own.
Rotch recalls many years ago when he started working with a 15-year-old girl, following her around with her family right after she signed her first record deal. That girl was Taylor Swift and over the years Rotch worked closely with her, even producing an NBC special for her and promotional work for her album, Fearless.
“It’s a little surreal remember it now,” Rotch said. “I had no clue what was going to happen when I first started working with her except she had this gift for writing songs and combined with her drive and focus it was incredible. Even when she got so famous, she was super nice and personable.”
Rotch describes the process of producing with big artists as getting past the huge teams surrounding the artist and talking to them one-on-one to talk to them about what is written.
“In Nashville, there is so much talent and the stars here are so down to earth and nice to everyone no matter how big or small,” Rotch said. “It’s still a little odd to be standing near someone who is on TV no matter how much time passes.”
He remember going to the farm of Blake Shelton and shot a TV pilot when the country music singer still had a mullet and was fairly unknown.
“I got to know him pretty well and could tell he was going to be a huge star, it was just about him finding the right vehicle to take him to success and he found it,” Rotch said.
Rotch also helped a close friend and polka artist in Nashville write a song for her album, which was nominated for a Grammy.
“I went to the Grammy’s and I was sitting there and saw Prince sitting a few rows over,” Rotch said. “It was like seeing a unicorn, I had never dreamed I would make it to the Grammy’s, let alone via polka music.”
“I’ve recently finished a screenplay for a thriller featuring a back country ski resort and have a novel I have been working on for way too long that my wife is sick of hearing about,” Rotch said. “I’m super busy right now, but that’s the way I like it.”