Ruston musician Shayla Blake is this year’s recipient of Argent Financial Group’s Distinguished Fellowship for the Hambidge Center’s Creative Residency Program, Argent announced today.
Residents of Ruston who work in writing, visual arts, dance, ceramics, culinary arts or music were eligible to apply for the Argent Financial Fellowship. The program offers a $700 stipend along with a two-week residency at the Hambidge Center in Rabun Gap, Georgia. All applicants were evaluated by the Hambidge Center’s panel review process.
Blake will be attending the Hambidge Center’s Fall Session 2020 beginning in September. She specializes in flute and piano performance and plans to practice both instruments and work on composition projects while at Hambidge.
“To be chosen for a Hambidge residency is not only a timely artistic affirmation for me, but has propelled me forward as I approach and envision new creative projects,” said Blake. “To the folks at Argent and Hambidge, I am still searching for words that truly express my gratitude.”
Blake grew up in Florida and developed a passion for music at a young age. She began piano lessons in the first grade and has since expanded her repertoire to the flute, choral arranging and musical collaboration. Blake attended Stetson University and Texas Tech University, where she studied in the studios of Geoffrey Gilbert for the flute and William Westney for the piano. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Piano Performance from Texas Tech.
Her compositions have been heard around the world, from her hometown of Ruston, to Vatican City. Blake is a three-time winner of the Publisher’s Award at the Martin Institute Composers Symposium, has received three Editor’s Choice Awards from J.W. Pepper and in 2019 was named to the list of Powerful Women Composers by Fred Bock Publishers. Her work has been published by Lorenz, Hal Leonard, Shawnee Press, Fred Bock Music and EasyChoirMusic.com. She has also released four albums with husband and vocalist Mack, all of which reflect her diverse musical styles.
“Every year we review many extraordinary applicants, but Shayla stood out as someone who not only has a passion for music but also shows a strong community-oriented approach,” said Hambidge Center Executive Director Jamie Badoud. “We are excited to hear the colorful compositions she creates.”
Blake teaches piano, flute, songwriting and Choral Arrangement at Louisiana Tech University. She also works as a collaborative pianist and teaches both piano and flute in her private studio. When she is not composing or performing, Blake volunteers as regional coordinator for Nashville Songwriters Association International in the Louisiana region and is a dedicated member of Music Teachers National Association and ASCAP.
“Not only is Shayla incredibly talented, but she makes it a point to give back to the Ruston community through music,” said Argent Financial Group CEO Kyle McDonald. “We wish Shayla the best at Hambidge and look forward to hearing her new compositions when she returns.”
About the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences
For more than 85 years, the Hambidge Center has been nurturing creative talents within the arts and sciences at its 600-acre creative sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains, providing the space and time needed for visionary works to be conceived and developed. Nine individuals are in residence at any given time — each has private accommodations and studio space, and shares communal dinners prepared by the Hambidge chef. The public is invited to the Center on Saturdays for a series of programs that include artist talks, nature hikes, gristmill visits, weaving demonstrations, gallery openings and other special events.
About Argent Financial Group
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, Argent Financial Group (AFG) is a leading independent fiduciary wealth management firm. Responsible for more than $26 billion in client assets, AFG provides individuals, families, institutions and businesses with a broad range of wealth management services including trust administration and related services, investment management, family office services, retirement plan and charitable organization administration, mineral (oil and gas) management, and financial, retirement and estate planning. The company was also recently named for the second year in a row to the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. AFG is the only financial services company in Louisiana to make the prestigious list. For more information, visit www.ArgentFinancial.com.