Merrick Music is a production company and recording studio that is now located in the Asheville, North Carolina area situated on a very private and beautiful mountain top resort like setting. Merrick Music was formerly located in Nashville, TN. The owner of Merrick Music is Neal Merrick Blackwood AKA Neal Merrick. Neal Merrick Blackwood has worked under many Production Teams and Monikers. Through the years Composer & Musician, Neal Merrick Blackwood, has produced and engineered Grammy award-winning artists ranging from instrumental to alternative rock. Neal is a multi-instrumentalist who was born in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Neal was formerly an Ambient Recording Artist on Space For Music Records. Neal spent most of his early life in the Nashville area studying and performing various musical styles and technical applications that helped to instill a solid foundation. This passion developed into many exciting musical endeavors. Neal produces, composes, arranges and plays many styles of music. For over 35 years in Nashville, Neal has worked with various talent and clients as an engineer, producer, musician, programmer, composer, arranger, songwriter and vocalist in world-renowned studio facilities, as well as in a wide variety of locations and recording environments throughout the world. Neal prefers to collaborate with artists and performers in both live shows and in making recordings that are dedicated to helping aid the world.
In 1988, Neal Merrick Blackwood (Scottish and Cherokee ancestry), Tony Gerber and Robert N. Smith (Neal’s adoptive grandfather) formed Space for Media, one of Nashville’s first MIDI recording studios and high-tech multimedia production houses utilizing Apple computers. Among the artists associated with the facility were Gerber, Merrick Blackwood, Giles Reaves, Bet Williams, Brad Jones, Kossie Gardner, Felix Cavaliere (of The Rascals), Jan Pulsford, Jay Joyce, Kirby Shelstad, and Aashid Himons. Neal has composed, performed and recorded ambient music for over 35 years. Adding to Gerber’s and Merrick Blackwood’s collaborations over the years, Neal was formerly signed with Gerber’s ambient music record label, Space For Music Records.
Neal Merrick Blackwood comes from a rich musical family heritage. Even though Neal has had little to do with the gospel music industry, his family is the Multi-Grammy Award Winning Blackwood gospel family. The Blackwood family formerly owned Blackwood Music which became EMI Blackwood Music after selling the company to EMI. Artists whom have cut songs or are signed with EMI Blackwood Music are as follows: The Beatles, Smokey Robinson, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alicia Keys, Jewel, John Mellencamp, James Taylor, Norah Jones, Roy Orbison, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Janis Ian, Michael Jackson, Bonnie Raitt, Weird Al Yankovich, R. Kelly, Mark Chesnut, ELO, Jeff Lynne, Lou Reed, Kate Bush, Lisa Gerrard, Adele, Allman Brothers Band, Dickey Betts, Sting, Paul McCartney, Mos Def, Stevie Nicks, Justin Timberlake, Ricky Martin, Marilyn Manson, Beyonce’, Steve Ball, Eric Clapton, Jann Arden, Gene Watson, Pointer Sisters, Sara Evans, The Pixies, David Lynch, John Barry, Neil Diamond, Wyclef Jean, Nirvana, Lady Gaga, John Fogerty, The Ocean Blue, Jim Lauderdale, Death Cab For Cutie, Jeff Lorber, John Lennon, Megadeth, Sugarland, Harry Nilsson, Madonna, Kenny G, Joni Mitchell, Martina McBride, Natasha Bedingfield, David Sylvian, Snoop Dogg, The B-52′s, Enya, Deana Carter, Metallica, Wallflowers, The Flaming Lips, Trace Adkins, Janet Jackson, U2, Pink, Savage Garden, Blackwood Brothers, Ziggy Marley, Youssou N’Dour, Tina Arena, The Psychedelic Furs, Usher, Hall and Oats, Randy Travis, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Taylor Swift, etc.
The Blackwood family has won 8 Grammy Awards, 27 Dove Awards, 5 American Music Awards, recorded over 200 albums and sold over 50 million records. The Blackwood family has been inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame (Listed under F: FAVORITE GOSPEL SONGS AND SPIRITUALS, The Blackwood Brothers Quartet), GMA Gospel Music Hall Of Fame, SGMA Southern Gospel Music Hall Of Fame, Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame. The Blackwood family is heard singing on the radio towards the beginning of the movie “Walk The Line”. The Blackwood family, Johnny Cash and the Cash family established a wonderful friendship that led to appearing together through the years on both recordings and live performances. The Blackwood Brothers and The Blackwood Singers were also among Elvis Presley’s favorite musical groups, which led to the Blackwood family and Elvis forming an enduring friendship that would also last a lifetime. The Blackwood family have a long list of wonderful enduring friendships and have performed with many well-known artists over the years. The Blackwoods have performed with artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, Porter Wagoner, Bill Gaither, Charlie Pride, Dolly Parton and many others. Neal is the son of Ron Blackwood, nephew of R. W. Blackwood, Jr. and grandson of the late RW Blackwood, Senior. It has been said that the original Blackwood Brothers Quartet came up with the idea to customize the first bus to make travel spacious and comfortable for them while traveling to and from engagements and that they therefore invented the customized “Tour Bus” that many entertainers take for granted these days. Elvis went to see the Blackwood tour bus and immediately went and had one made for him. A replica of the original Blackwood Brothers Quartet bus can be seen at the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Neal Merrick Blackwood’s Extended Bio:
In the mid 1970′s, Neal pursued the ongoing experimentation, study and analysis of both recording and composition of experimental, native, ambient, classical and jazz music (all kinds of music).
In 1978, Neal Merrick Blackwood produced a few experimental ambient recordings and was put in contact with Peter Baumann (of Tangerine Dream) in New York who was the founder of Private Music Records and whom was interested in hearing Neal’s music. Neal did not have enough completed material to pursue a recording contract. However, this interest greatly inspired Neal to continue writing more compositions.
Neal began touring and playing with various bands and orchestras in the early 1970′s.
Neal has produced compositions of vocal and instrumental music, some of which is distributed worldwide by Universal Music (formerly Zomba/Sony/BMG) and Merrick Music. Neal’s music is used in feature films, TV, commercials and various other forms.
Neal Merrick Blackwood at Space For Media, Inc. circa 1988. Photo taken by Spike Giles.
In 1988, Neal Merrick Blackwood, Robert N. Smith and Tony Gerber, started the company “Space For Media, Inc.”, one of Nashville’s first high-tech multimedia facilities that featured MIDI and digital recording utilizing Apple computer systems. The facility was located on “Music Row”. Neal was Co-President of Space For Media, Inc. and was producer, composer, programmer, editor and engineer. Neal’s adoptive grandfather, Robert N. Smith was the chairman, financial officer, sole financial backer and principal stockholder for Space For Media. Tony Gerber was Co-President of Space For Media, Inc. and was producer, composer, programmer and head of the graphics department. Dave “Digital Dave” Turner was in the graphics department and was also head of the video and animation department as Vice-President of the company. Giles Reaves was a composer, programmer, producer and the chief engineer for the company. Rob McClain was head of telecommunications technology and provided all around corporate assistance. Bari Gant provided PR and office management. Brenda Pattat provided PR and office management as well as being the studio manager. Mark Tallent was also a composer, producer, engineer and programmer in the early years of Space For Media. Michelle Myers also helped out as office manager. Space For Media offered music production, graphics, animation and video services. Space For Media was also an Apple Computer Value Added Reseller and Apple Developer. Space For Media also provided Apple certified service and repair through NASCO Advanced Solutions. Tony Gerber, Neal Merrick Blackwood and Rob McClain were the in-house Apple computer systems analysis and service team. Space For Media created a multimedia kit CD-ROM for Apple with NASCO Advanced Solutions. At that time; Space For Media was the city’s only Digidesign (e.g.- ProTools, Sound Designer, etc.) digital audio products dealer. Space For Media also helped to beta test and make suggestions to help in developing products for Digidesign. Artists working out of Space For Media included Neal Merrick Blackwood, Giles Reaves, Tony Gerber, Dave “Digital Dave” Turner, Bet Williams, Brad Jones, Kirby Shelstad, Rob McClain, Dessau, Tony Crow (of Peter Criss band, Bare Jr., Lambchop, etc.), Rick Will, Scotty Turner, Kossie Gardner, Jay Joyce, Jan Pulsford, Felix Cavaliere (of The Rascals), Robb Earls, Sun Records, Michael Godsey & Melora Zaner Godsey (of Raging Fire), Aashid Himons, along with many others.
In 1991, Neal formed a business alliance with producer, writer and musician, Jan Pulsford, which led to Neal bringing his entire studio facility to her place of residence temporarily which led to producing various works and endeavors together for quite some time. Neal worked as Producer, Re-mixer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, Editing/Mastering Engineer, Programmer and Reprogrammer with English Valley Music, Music All Music, Madame La Pulse Productions and Collecting Dust Records on many various projects. Rodney Lawson also worked at English Valley as an Artist, Musician, Producer, Engineer and Programmer. Jan Pulsford owns musicallmusic.com Records. Jan is a wonderful musician/composer and was co-producer, co-writer and former musical partner with Cyndi Lauper. Neal continued to work with Jan on and off over several years until about 1999. Neal and Jan worked with such clients as the multi-platinum rock band Bush, Cyndi Lauper, Kat Dyson, Nigel Pulsford (of band Bush), Keki Mingus (Charles Mingus’s daughter), Felicia Collins, Universal Music (formerly Sony BMG), Trauma Records, etc.
During that time, Neal had formed Merrick Music, Inc. near Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee. At the Nashville location, Neal served as President of Merrick Music, Inc. (Merrick Music Studios) as well as being the company’s primary producer and engineer. Merrick Music, Inc. operated as a music production facility that produced recordings for artists under development, records for major & independent record labels, recording artists, soundtracks and various other music. Merrick Music had a wide variety of clients. Some of the artists that worked out of Merrick Music were: Spacecraft, Alison Krauss, Randy Travis, The Semantics, Mac Gayden, Mandy Barnett, Eugene Chadbourne, Bill Demain, Robin Eaton, Ben Folds, Willie Nelson, Demetrius “Sir Jam” Ross, Bryan White, Gwil Owen, Robert Earl Keen, Essra Mohawk, Laurie Webb, Aashid Himons, Sonny Landreth, Tom Astor, Westley Plass, Lance Cowan, The Cox Family, Victoria Shaw, and many more. Neal’s personal responsibilities and services included being Executive Officer, Producer, Artist Development Producer, A&R Representative for major and independent record labels, Arranger, Audio Engineer and Musical Composer. People employed at Merrick Music included; Jason Stelluto (Producer, Management, Booking, Engineer, A&R, etc.), Eddie Gore (Producer, A&R, Booking, Musician, Management, Engineer, and Programmer, etc.), Carrie Linn (Studio Manager, Artist, etc.), Leslie Hermsdorfer (Office Assistant), Nanette Malher (Artist, Studio Manager, A&R, etc.), Dee Barrett (Studio Manager who was former studio manager for Chick Corea), Dulcy Martinez – White (Studio Manager, A&R, etc.), James Cannon (Attorney and Legal Affairs). Lisa Cotterman (Office Assistant). Bryan Talbot was briefly a partner as well as offering his production, engineering, A&R and programming skills. Merrick Music, Inc. Nashville, was a state of the art recording facility designed by world renowned studio designer Steve Durr of Steve Durr Designs, which featured a custom made Neve console (which was sold to Walter Sear, owner of Sear Sound Studios in New York, NY), Studer A827, Studer D827, Mitsubishi X850 with Apogee filters along with a combination of cutting edge and vintage audio equipment. Merrick Music also had a pre-production studio with an Amek/TAC Scorpion II console.
Neal and Merrick Music also worked in conjunction with Steve Hennig and Steve Durr’s Imagine Sound Studios located in the same building, to include production and engineering services, as well as aid in the daily operation of the Imagine Sound studio facilities. Some of the artists that worked out of Imagine Sound Studios were: David Gates (of Bread), Deana Carter, Pam Tillis, John Gorka, Charlie McCoy, Tanya Tucker, Bryan White, Randy Travis, Crystal Gayle, Will Rambeaux, Lee Roy Parnell, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks, Take 6, Ivan Neville, Brent Rowan, The Jordanaires, Donna McElroy, David Meece, Ray Benson And Asleep At The Wheel, Doobie Brothers, Peter Cetera, Camille Harrison, Alison Krauss, The Cox Family, Demetrius “Sir Jam” Ross, Mandy Barnett, Aashid Himons, Tracy Nelson, Patty Loveless, Eddie Shaver, Jan Pulsford, Bill Monroe, Dolly Parton, Robin Fordham, Bob Woodruff, The Memphis Horns, Trisha Yearwood, Mac Gayden, Corrine Champigny, Nanette Malher, Radney Foster, Bill Lloyd, Suzy Bogguss, Gary Nicholson, The Lynns, Victoria Shaw, Larry Weiss, Stephanie Davis, Martha Carson, Marcus Hummon, Martina McBride, etc.
In 1996, Neal joined Universal Music Group as the company’s interim studio manager, chief engineer and technician for approximately one year. At that time, Neal was also involved with his own production projects with Merrick Music.
Neal was formerly a voting member of NARAS (The Grammy Association) and served as part of the NARAS Producers And Engineers Wing. Neal was also a member of AES (Audio Engineering Society) and was also a member of the AFM (American Federation Of Musicians, Local 257).
Neal has been called “unique” for many of his musical approaches and ideas. Neal is one of the first early “MIDI” and digital sampling pioneers. Neal continually tries to introduce new and exciting ideas to recordings such as “rhythmic gating” techniques that he introduced to former “Bush” rock band guitarist, Nigel Pulsford. Neal is noted for applications of unique treatments to frequency interrelationships within music and has experimented with 3-D (Three Dimensional) sound and the effects it has when applied and perceived by the individual experiences of listeners. Neal has always been fascinated by sound that seems to jump out of the speakers for you to experience, as it seems to emit from different places around the room and strategically move around you. For example, true 3-D or holographic sound may seem to be right in front of your face or move directly behind your head to whisper in your right ear. Neal explains, “That true ’3-D’ sound is a much more realistic experience than a typical plain multichannel ‘surround sound’, mono or stereo listening experience and it is more common today in the film industry for films to be mixed in ‘surround sound’ utilizing 3-D effects and 3-D technology to enhance the over-all realism of the film’s experience”. Many people ridiculed Neal long ago when he openly predicted that computers would soon be commonly used to make music and that 3-D sound would also be commonly utilized in the future.