A native of Independence, MO, Nancy Blake began studying cello at age 12. She moved to Nashville following high school graduation and played for a season with the Nashville Youth Symphony under the direction of Dr. Thor Johnson. At that time, Nancy became aware of ‘other’ Nashville music, playing first in Everything in the Garden, then in Natchez Trace. In 1972, Natchez Trace opened an Exit/In show for Norman Blake, and thus began their relationship. Simultaneously, Norman introduced Nancy to fiddle music. Nancy's love for it inspired her to seek as many of the cello parts as she could, then learn the rest in the true country fashion - by ear.
Nancy began recording and performing with Norman in 1974. She has expanded her playing ability to include the mandolin, fiddle, guitar, bass, and single row accordion. In 1986, Nancy released her first solo album entitled Grand Junction. This critically acclaimed recording ended up in the New York Daily News' Best Eight LP's for 1986 in any category . In 1988 Nancy received the prestigious invitation to perform at the first World Cello Congress held at the University of Maryland. She returned to World Cello Congress II in July 1997, held in St. Petersburg, Russia, guided by Mstislav Rostropovich.
“I've gotten a lot out of country music and I want to give something back to it. I'm doing what I feel might express that, by playing Norman's music the best I know how. I wouldn't trade what I know for first chair in the London Philharmonic.” says Nancy.
In the ensuing years, Norman and Nancy Blake have toured extensively, playing to larger and more dedicated audiences.
Her past four recordings with Norman have all received Grammy nominations in the category of Best Traditional Folk Album: Blind Dog (1990) for Rounder Records and Shanachie Records Just Gimme Somethin’ I’m Used To (1993); While Passing Along This Way (1995) and Hobo’s Last Ride (1996). In the summer of 2001, after a well deserved hiatus, Nancy returned to the stage of Carnegie Hall to accompany Norman on the sold out O Brother Where Art Thou Concert.
NANCY BLAKE DISCOGRAPHY
THE HOBO’S LAST RIDE (Shanachie 6020)
WHILE PASSING ALONG THIS WAY (Shanachie 6012)
JUST GIMME SOMETHIN' I'M USED TO (Shanachie 6001)
BLIND DOG (Rounder 0254)
NATASHA'S WALTZ (compilation) (Rounder)
TAKOMA PLUS ONE (compilation) (Takoma 7126)
SLOW TRAIN THROUGH GEORGIA (compilation) (Rounder 11526)
NORMAN AND NANCY COMPACT DISC (Rounder 11505)
GRAND JUNCTION (Nancy Blake) (Rounder 0231)
LIGHTHOUSE ON THE SHORE (Rounder 0211)
NASHVILLE BLUES (Rounder 0188)
ORIGINAL UNDERGROUND MUSIC FROM THE MYSTERIOUS SOUTH (Rounder 0166)
FULL MOON ON THE FARM (Rounder 0144)
THE RISING FAWN STRING ENSEMBLE (Rounder 0122)
LIVE AT McCABE'S (Takoma 1052)