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Charles Neal began his musical journey at the age of 6 when he started taking lessons on the piano. By the age of 9 his musical interest had encompassed the drums as well. Through the next few years Charles would play both instruments in school and church. He played the drums and piano in the junior high jazz band and concert bands. In high school Charles developed his skills on classical percussion and mallet instruments. Furthermore, he explored jazz in high school playing in the jazz band where he learned to be very proficient at the vibraphone. In the summers Charles attended the Lionel Hampton School of Music summer programs at the University of Idaho. It was here his jazz drum chops were worked and sculpted. He was fortunate to play in (by audition only) the All Northwest jazz band and be featured as a soloist in the group on vibraphone. Also, he played in the All State Concert Bands for two years.
After high school, Charles attended Spokane Falls Community College where he started to concentrate more on the drum set. He began to develop his drum chops and technique when he started to do freelance drumming. As well as he joined a rock-a-billy band call the Chrome Toasters. A few years later he joined a second group called Fuego. This Latin jazz group exposed him to Afro- Cuban and Brazilian music. In 1995 Charles and a few other musicians formed a group called the Smooth Society, which was a small acid jazz/funk group. After a few months the group grew into a large ensemble, which consisted of a rapper, singer, horn section, and a rhythm section. The named was later changed to Like Family. This band was very successful in its first few years, releasing a demo album and played constantly in the area.
By the late 90's Charles felt the need to study and fine tune his musical skills as well as look for a change in atmosphere and location. In the fall of 1997 Charles was accepted to the Berklee College of Music on scholarship and moved to Boston. While at Berklee Charles's musical sense blossomed and his musicianship matured. He embraced the musical freshness of the Berklee atmosphere and regained his confidence as a performer as well as a composer. During his final year at Berklee Charles was awarded the Elvin Jones Scholarship and in May of 2000 Charles graduated "Cum Laude" from the Berklee College of Music and moved to Portland, OR.
For the last 10 years he has lived in Portland performing, writing, producing, recording, and teaching music. To me Music=Life. Charles's love for collaborating on other artist's projects has been seen here in Portland when he has produced a powerful live Hip Hop group named QuiVaH which has received local and regional recognition with a following. Charles has played with many musicians in the northwest and continues to be an active musician in the Portland area. Furthermore he is constantly working on numerous music projects in the recording studio allowing him to continually sharpen an perfect his true love of composing music of all kinds.
"I'm always on a quest to surround my life and live my passion for music." - Charles Neal