Above: Neal Merrick Blackwood
Merrick Music is owned by Neal Merrick Blackwood of the Grammy Hall Of Fame, Blackwood Gospel Family (The Blackwood Quartet, The Blackwood Brothers Quartet, The Blackwoods, The Blackwood Singers, Terry Blackwood, James Blackwood, Billy Blackwood, Jimmy Blackwood, Ron Blackwood, RW Blackwood, Mark Blackwood, etc.). Merrick Music was founded in 1990 by Neal Merrick Blackwood in Nashville, Tennessee. Neal Merrick Blackwood is a classical musician, composer, orchestrator, conductor, arranger, over-all contractor, recording engineer and producer. Neal has worked under many Grammy Award winning production teams/monikers in world-renowned recording studio facilities and concert venues with countless legendary artists representing many styles of music for well over 40 years. Neal Merrick Blackwood’s compositions are distributed worldwide by Universal Music Group and Merrick Music. Neal Merrick Blackwood’s music is used in films, TV shows, commercials, radio, live performances, etc. Neal Merrick Blackwood has been a voting member of NARAS (The Recording Academy/Grammy Awards) and has served as part of the NARAS Producers and Engineers Wing for many years. Neal has also been a member of the AES (Audio Engineering Society) and the AFM (American Federation of Musicians) for many years. Neal has worked with artists and clients that include: The Blackwoods, The Blackwood Quartet, Terry Blackwood, PBS, BBC, The Walt Disney Company, The Suzuki Method, Warner Classics, Universal Music Group, Decca Records, The Olympic Games, Cyndi Lauper, Dolly Parton, Bill Mize, Julie Fowlis, Nashville Symphony, Margaret Cornils Luke, Psalm Space, etc.
The following is Neal’s extended biography which goes into greater detail about some of his personal history and some of the things that he has been involved with in the past.
Neal Merrick Blackwood was born and raised in Nashville, TN. In the early 1970s, Neal began ongoing experimentation, study and analysis of composition, recording and performing of classical, choral, cultural, gospel, country, pop, ambient and jazz music at Vanderbilt University as well as Johns Hopkins University. Neal’s diversified musical experience continues to lead him to working on many exciting projects.
Neal Merrick Blackwood’s compositions are distributed worldwide by Universal Music Group and Merrick Music. Neal Merrick Blackwood’s music is used in films, TV shows, commercials, radio, live performances, etc.
In 1988, Neal Merrick Blackwood, Tony Gerber, Dave Turner and Robert N. Smith started the company “Space For Media, Inc.,” with founding members Robert McClain and Giles Reaves as one of Nashville’s first high-tech multimedia facilities that featured MIDI along with digital audio recording, editing and mixing services utilizing Apple computer systems with Avid software and hardware. The facility was located on “Music Row” in Nashville, Tennessee. Neal Merrick Blackwood was Copresident of Space For Media, composer, orchestrator, contractor, producer, musician, arranger, programmer, audio editor, engineer and chief technician. Robert N. Smith was the Chairman, CFO, CPA, sole financial backer and principal stockholder for Space For Media. Tony Gerber was Copresident, producer, composer, programmer and Head of the Graphics Department. Dave “Digital Dave” Turner was Vice-President of Space For Media, Head of the Video/Animation Department and worked in the Graphics Department. Giles Reaves was Chief Audio Engineer for Space For Media, composer, musician, audio editor, programmer and producer. Rob McClain was Head of Telecommunications Technology and provided all-around corporate assistance. Bari Gant provided PR and Office Management. Brenda Pattat provided PR, Office Management and Studio Scheduling. Mark Tallent was a composer, producer, engineer and programmer in the early years of Space For Media. Michelle Myers provided Office Management. Space For Media offered music production, graphics, animation and video services. Space For Media was also an Apple Inc. computer VAR and Apple Inc. developer. Space For Media and NASCO Advanced Solutions also provided Apple Inc. certified service and repair. Tony Gerber, Neal Merrick Blackwood and Rob McClain were the Space For Media in-house Apple Inc. computer systems technical analysis and service team. Space for Media and NASCO Advanced Solutions created a multimedia kit CD-ROM for Apple Inc. At that time; Space For Media was the city’s only Avid Technologies (Digidesign) digital audio products dealer. Space for Media also helped to beta test and make suggestions in helping to develop products for Avid Technologies (Digidesign). Artists and clients working out of Space For Media included: Apple Inc., Dick Clark Productions, Mark Haffner Productions, Felix Cavaliere (The Rascals), Sun Records, Scotty Turner, Bet Williams, Brad Jones, Robin Eaton, Steve Earle, Rick Will, Kossie Gardner, Jan Pulsford, Robb Earls, etc.
Notable Mention: In 1989, Neal Merrick Blackwood was commissioned to compose, orchestrate and arrange “The Presidential Waltz” for the 41st President of the United States of America, President George H. W. Bush. “The President’s Own,” Marine Band performed “The Presidential Waltz” at the White House as the President and First Lady danced to the music. “The Presidential Waltz” was composed under the inspiration of a basic melody and rhythmic idea that Scotty Turner and Audie Murphy had written together. President George H. W. Bush very kindly sent Neal Merrick Blackwood and Scotty Turner a framed “Thank you” letter and photo expressing his gratitude and appreciation.
In 1991, Neal Merrick Blackwood formed a business alliance with producer, writer and musician, Jan Pulsford. This alliance led to Neal bringing his entire studio facility to Jan’s place of residence which led to producing many various works and projects together for quite some time. Neal Merrick Blackwood worked as Composer, Producer, Orchestrator, Arranger, Chief Engineer, Musician, Mix Engineer, Editing/Mastering Engineer, Programmer and Re-programmer with Jan Pulsford under many business titles such as Jan Pulsford, English Valley Music, Music All Music Records, Madame La Pulse Productions and Collecting Dust Records. Dennis Byron (Bee Gees) also worked at English Valley Music. Rodney Lawson also worked at English Valley Music as an Artist, Musician, Writer, Producer, Engineer and Programmer. Jan Pulsford is a wonderful musician/composer and was co-producer, co-writer and former musical partner with Cyndi Lauper. Neal and Jan still continue to work together on occasion. Neal and Jan worked with such clients as the Grammy Nominated/Multi-Platinum selling rock band Bush, Grammy Award winning Cyndi Lauper, Richard Smallwood, Tim Hinkley, Dennis Byron, Kathleen “Kat” Dyson (of Prince, Mick Jagger, Cyndi Lauper, Seal, etc.), Nigel Pulsford (of band Bush), David Schnaufer, Stephen Seifert, Keki Mingus (Charles Mingus’s daughter), Nashville Symphony, Felicia Collins (of David Bowie, Chic, The Thompson Twins, Madonna, Al Jarreau, David Letterman Show Band “CBS Orchestra”, etc.), Universal Music, Sony Records, BMG Records, Epic Records, Trauma Records, Atmosphere Records, etc.
Neal Merrick Blackwood formed Merrick Music, Inc. near “Music Row” in Nashville, Tennessee. Neal Merrick Blackwood is the owner of Merrick Music as well as being the company’s primary producer, orchestrator, composer, contractor, arranger, musician and chief engineer. Merrick Music has operated as a music production facility producing recordings for artists under development, producing records for recording artists on major and independent record labels, composing/scoring soundtracks, etc. Merrick Music has had a wide variety of clients over the years. Some of the artists that have worked out of Merrick Music are: Mandy Barnett, Alison Krauss, Randy Travis, The Semantics, Mac Gayden, Eugene Chadbourne, Bill Demain, Disney, Robin Eaton, Ben Folds, Willie Nelson, Tom Astor, Demetrius “Sir Jam” Ross, Bryan White, Gwil Owen, Bill Lloyd, Robert Earl Keen, Sonny Landreth, Townes Van Zandt, Wesley Plass, Mitch Malloy, Casey Beathard, Lance Cowan, The Cox Family, Victoria Shaw, Universal Music, Liberty Records, Sun Records, RCA Records, Warner Bros. Records, Sony Records, Capitol Records, Asylum Records, Rounder Records, MCA Records, Winter Harvest Records and many more. People that have been employed at Merrick Music include: Jason Stelluto (Producer, management, booking, engineer, A&R, etc.), Eddie Gore (Producer, A&R, booking, musician, management, engineer, 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 the former Studio Manager for Chick Corea), Dulcy Martinez-White (Studio Manager, A&R, etc.), James Cannon (Attorney and Legal Affairs), Lisa Cotterman (Office Assistant). Clark Hagan was Chief Technical Engineer who refurbished the Neve console and did the final wiring for Studio A with the aid of RCA Records legendary recording engineer, Bill Porter. Other wiring was done by Jim Kaiser (Of the Nashville Audio Engineering Society, etc.) and his tech team. Bryan Talbot was briefly a partner as well as offering his production, tech, engineering, A&R and programming skills.
Merrick Music Nashville Studio A: Featured a state of the art recording facility designed by world renowned studio designer Steve Durr (Steve Durr Designs), Avid Pro Tools™ HD, Studer A827 24-track 2″ analog tape machine, Studer D827 48-track digital tape machine (Special thanks to Joe Bean), Mitsubishi X850 32-track digital tape machine with Apogee filters, Lexicon 480L, Lexicon 224L, Lexicon PCM 70, Lexicon 300L, Lexicon PCM 42 Delay, TC Electronics 2290 Delay, Millennia HV-3D-8, BAE 312 mic pres, Telefunken V72s, Telefunken V76Ms, 4- Langevin AM-5116-Bs, API 560Bs, API 550Bs, API 550As, 2-Urei 1176LNs, Teletronix LA2A, 3-Tubetech CL1Bs, full-range Steve Durr Designs custom TAD component main monitors with wood horns and 15″ woofers, Yamaha NS10Ms, KRK Systems E8T Expose monitoring system with subwoofer, Neve 8038 custom console 32x16x24, 4-Neve 2254/A compressor/limiters, 3- Neve EMT Plate remote controllers, 39 PPM Meters, 10 effects sends, “Imagine Sound” 6 mix headphone system, “Perfect Connections” headphone system, various modern cutting edge and vintage audio equipment. The Neve 8038 was sold to Walter Sear of Sear Sound in NY.
Neal Merrick Blackwood and Merrick Music worked in conjunction with Steve Hennig and Steve Durr’s Imagine Sound Studios (Formerly located in the same building as Merrick Music) to include production and engineering services, as well as aid in the daily operation of the Imagine Sound Studios facilities. Imagine Sound featured a vintage API console which came out of Nashville’s famous RCA Studios. That console is now located at Ray Benson’s Bismeaux Studios in Austin, Texas. Some of the artists that worked out of Imagine Sound Studios were: David Gates (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, Ben Folds, Camille Harrison, Alison Krauss, The Cox Family, Demetrius “Sir Jam” Ross, Jimmy Collins, Mandy Barnett, Tracy Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Patty Loveless, Eddie Shaver, Jan Pulsford, Bill Monroe, Dolly Parton, Robin Fordham, Bob Woodruff, The Memphis Horns, Trisha Yearwood, Mac Gayden, Nanette Malher, Radney Foster, Bill Lloyd, Suzy Bogguss, Gary Nicholson, Claire Lynch, The Lynns, Victoria Shaw, Larry Weiss, Stephanie Davis, Martha Carson, Marcus Hummon, Martina McBride, Windham Hill Records, Discovery Records, Liberty Records, Warner Bros Records, Arista Records, Sony Records, MCA Records, etc.
Neal Merrick Blackwood worked as a composer, arranger, producer and engineer for Hummingbird Productions in Nashville, TN. Hummingbird Productions is known as being one of the leading creators of music for film, radio and TV commercials.
Neal Merrick Blackwood worked as a duo production team member as being Chief recording/mix engineer, assistant producer, arranger, programmer, musician, etc. for Stuart Colman productions. In January 1986, Steve Flood and Stuart Colman opened Master Rock Studios which they had built at No.248 in the old cinema building. Flood had been looking for three years and had seen 300 buildings before he decided this large open building would make a suitable site. Flood and Coleman asked the top recording studio designer Ken Shearer to plan the building with a large control room and a separate large recording room. Studio A housed the very first Focusrite console, one of only 10 made in the world. Studio B featured a custom SSL 4000 series console. Artists that recorded at Master Rock Studios in Kilburn included Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, U2, Eric Clapton, Roxy Music, Simply Red, Oasis, Robbie Williams and Suede. Master Rock Studios became world famous Metropolis Studios.
Neal Merrick Blackwood worked as an engineer for Javelina Studios (Owned by Warren Peterson). The studio has changed ownership over the years and was first known as RCA Studio A. RCA Studio A became Music City Music Hall, which became Javelina Studios. Javelina Studio A featured a large frame API console. Javelina Studio B featured a Neve Capricorn console. Neal’s family (The Blackwood Brothers Quartet) were signed to RCA Victor Records by Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley. Members of the Blackwood gospel family have recorded many legendary sessions in the RCA Studios with such artists as Elvis Presley, George Beverly Shea, Porter Wagoner, Chet Atkins and many more. The Blackwood Brothers Quartet recorded their historic RCA Victor gospel recordings in RCA Studios A, B and C. Studio A was previously owned by Ben Folds and is now owned by Dave Cobb.
In 1996, Neal Merrick Blackwood 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 Merrick Blackwood has also worked with his family in Pigeon Forge as Chief Engineer/Producer for their theatre shows and recording projects featuring The Blackwood Quartet , The Blackwoods and The Blackwood Singers.
Neal Merrick Blackwood has been a voting member of NARAS (The Recording Academy/Grammy Awards) and served as part of the NARAS Producers & Engineers Wing for many years. Neal has also been a member of the AES (Audio Engineering Society) and the AFM (American Federation of Musicians) for many years.
The Famous Blackwood Gospel Family
Pictured on the left:
9 Blackwood Grammy Awards on display at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.
Neal Merrick Blackwood was born and raised in Nashville, TN. Neal’s family is the legendary Blackwood Gospel Family. The Blackwood family has won 9 Grammy Awards, 27 Dove Awards, 5 American Music Awards, recorded over 200 albums and sold over 50 million records. (Not including all of the albums sold or awards won performing on other artist’s recordings.) The Blackwood family has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame, SGMA Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, Memphis Music Hall of Fame, Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame. The Blackwood family is heard singing on the radio towards the beginning of the Grammy Award winning movie, “Walk The Line.” The Blackwood family, Johnny Cash and the Cash family established a 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. The Blackwood family has performed with many well-known artists over the years. The Blackwood family has performed with artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, The Billy Graham Crusade, Cher, Lionel Richie, Sammy Davis Jr., Ray Price, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Vinton, The Oak Ridge Boys, Ronnie Milsap, Tanya Tucker, The Gatlin Brothers, Barbara Mandrell, Glen Campbell, John Cougar Mellencamp, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, BJ Thomas, Tammy Wynette, Porter Wagoner, Bill Gaither, Charlie Pride, Dolly Parton and many others. Neal Blackwood is the son of Ron Blackwood, nephew of R. W. Blackwood, Jr., grandson of the late RW Blackwood, Senior. and great grandson of Roy Blackwood. When J. D. Sumner was with the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, J. D. Sumner came up with the idea to customize the first bus to make travel spacious and comfortable for them while traveling to and from engagements. From having the need of comfort away from home, the customized “Tour Bus” was invented that many entertainers take for granted these days. Elvis Presley went to see the Blackwood tour bus and immediately had one made for himself. A replica of the original Blackwood Brothers Quartet tour bus can be seen at the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The Southern Gospel Music Association (SGMA) was founded by Glen Payne, J.D. Sumner and James Blackwood. The first National Quartet Convention was held in 1957. J. D. Sumner, Cecil Blackwood and James Blackwood of The Blackwood Brothers were the founders of the famous National Quartet Convention formerly held in Memphis, Tennessee. The GMA was founded in 1964 to promote Gospel music. It was created as an extension of the National Quartet Convention, a convention devoted to Southern Gospel. J. D. Sumner, Cecil Blackwood and James Blackwood also founded the Gospel Music Association.