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To say that some talented and successful people have come out of Paris Texas would be an understatement. In an array of different fields, Paris has had musicians, producers, professional athletes, coaches, business owners, community leaders, and many experts in many disciplines. Of these many greats that have went on to achieve notable feats, Paris High School has had many of them walk through its halls.
Blake Neely is certainly one of these people — graduating from Paris High School with the Class of 1987 — who, by all accounts, has succeeded in several different areas, several different times. As a composer, pianist, conductor, orchestrator, arranger, and author, Blake has gained some very deserved respect in the music field, winning many awards and composing and scoring many great movies and television series.
Neely was born and grew up in Paris. He took much inspiration from this town. At the very young age of 4, Blake began to dabble on the family piano. Seeing the apparent love for music, his parents quickly sought piano lessons, and within a short period of time he was composing his own songs — paving the way for a bright future in musical composition.
By middle school, and on into high school, Blake played the French horn in the marching band. During this time he also gained a love for conducting, continued playing piano, and later bought some drums. He lived for music, played in some garage bands, and by the age 14, bought his first synthesizers.
By the time he finished high school Blake’s musical talents had grown, but the learning was not done. He left Paris to attend the University of Texas in Austin. He attempted their School of Music, but they seemed unmoved by his piano playing. He received a letter — ironically enough — telling him that he “should consider another career path.” A letter that probably makes he and the music panel at UT laugh now, as he’s become beyond successful in his musical career path.
During college he had the opportunity to intern for Disney Studios in their film music department. After college he obtained jobs with Disney’s Hollywood Records and Disney Music Publishing, where he managed their print music division. Hal Leonard Publishing — an industry leading performing arts and musical publishing group — noticed his expertise and hired Blake to write method books, to which he produced more than 25 of these instrumental instruction books. Of these include the award-winning “Fast Track Music Instruction”, a series that includes lessons on guitar, bass, singing, keyboard, saxophone, harmonica, and drums, and the best-selling piano method, “Piano for Dummies.”
While writing instructional method books for aspiring musicians, Neely began orchestrating for his friend and mentor, composer Michael Kamen. Blake credits his success today to Kamen’s guidance, loyalty and introduction to music for film. He soon began conducting and composing along renowned composers such as, Vangelis and Hans Zimmer.
Through his composing he landed a gig scoring the television series, “Everwood,” for the WB. The main title theme song gained Blake his first Emmy nomination in 2003, during the series’ first year. This success led to many more in television and film music projects.
In 2010 Blake scored a mini-series called “The Pacific”. This musical score again gained him an Emmy nomination — making number 2. Now, in 2012, he’s been nominated for yet another Emmy for his Music Composition in the primetime series, “Pan Am.”
Decided on and presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, an Emmy is considered the highest award in television entertainment, and according to Wikipedia, is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards (for film), the Tony Award (for theatre), and the Grammy Awards (for music).
For a guy that didn’t seem to impress the music panel at UT, Blake has pursued and maintained quite the substantial musical career — already being nominated for THREE Emmys for his compositions. He’s worked with some of the best in the business, such as, Michael Kamen, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Metallica, George Michael, the London Metropolitan Orchestra, Vangelis, and many more. He’s even composed music for the Queen of England, the Olympics, and a shuttle to Mars.
With that said, Blake was born in Paris Texas and graduated from Paris High School. He’s says he’s known from a young age what he wanted to do and that Paris has somewhat helped him achieve his goals.
“I knew from a very early early age that I wanted to compose music for film and TV. But growing up in Paris, with no tangible connection to Hollywood and years before the Internet, made these dreams feel impossible. Yet, it motivated me,” Blake stated in a comment to eParis. ”I became more self-reliant and persistent about finding my way. This ethic continues to this day and makes me never give up. Plus, having always supportive and encouraging parents was invaluable!”
Blake is also a husband and father. He spends time with his family, plays tennis, and enjoys skiing. He works in Los Angeles running his studio and publishing company, “Cow on the Wall”. He’s an all-around musical mastermind, even sharing his genius with other aspiring musicians through the authoring of award winning method books.
On Sunday, September 23, the 64th Primetime Emmys will be shown on ABC. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, this year’s show will give the chance of an Emmy to a Paris native, for the third time. Everyone in Paris should watch on that night. The show will start at 6pm here.
Below is the official Primetime Emmy listing in Blake’s category.
MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A SERIES (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
“The Borgias,” Trevor Morris
“Downton Abbey,” John Lunn
“Pan Am,” Blake Neely
“Smash,” Marc Shaiman & Christian Bacon
“30 Rock,” Jeff Richmond
All the luck to you, Blake.
Article by Josh Allen/Managing Editor – eParis Extra! Referencing www.blakeneely.com, www.wikipedia.org, www.emmys.com, and www.scoringsessions.com.
Image source: www.ScoringSessions.com & www.zimbio.com