Written by: Blythe Freshwater
OKWU student Blake Allen Lillard is an up-and-coming freelancing musician who was recently featured on the KUSH 1600 radio station morning show and in their news publication, “Home” for his new single, “Maybe It’s Time.” Blake has released several original songs this year, as well as numerous covers. You can find his music anywhere: Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, YouTube. Molly Payne, writer for “Home,” says in Blake’s feature article, “I’ve watched enough reality-tv talent shows and interviewed enough musicians to recognize this 23-year-old from Tulsa has all of the ‘it’ factors. He has the voice. He has the musical ability. He can write a song. He has the boyish good looks and charm of a young Elvis. And perhaps even more importantly, he has the desire to use the talent he’s been given.” Payne’s right–and OKWU is proud to claim Blake as one of their own.
Being featured on KUSH is only the next step in Blake’s music career. He says, “I’ve been writing music for about eight years, but if you want to consider all the goofy parodies and rap songs [I’ve written], then I’ve been doing this since I was in third grade. I started playing paid gigs at about seventeen years old—right after I stopped riding bareback broncs.” He laughs. “I kind of jumped out of one love to dive into another, and when I did, I really tried to go all in, like I normally do with anything.” Blake is an all-or-nothing type of guy, and he pursues each of his passions with determination and excellence.
He says, “I’ve played a lot of bars, churches, festivals, competitions, but the coolest one was the OK FFA [Future Farmers of America] convention my senior year of high school.” FFA is a student organization for high school-aged students interested in agriculture and leadership. Blake says, “I played an original song ‘Bad Times Go Away’ for about 10,000 people at the convention center in OKC and received a standing ovation. It was my peak.” Knowing that Blake’s music career is just getting started, I doubt that this event was his peak, and I hope that he continues to get opportunities to perform for enchanted audiences.
Blake performed “Maybe It’s Time” at OKWU’s Spring Concert on April 25 with the Jazz Ensemble supporting him in the background. The song was well-received, and Blake enjoyed sharing his newest hit with his friends and family. He also played several other songs in the concert, “Bad Times Go Away” and “Call You Mine,” which he wrote for his wife. Dr. Stewart, Director of Ensembles at OKWU, says, “Blake is an excellent song writer who is already creating a reputation for himself in Tulsa and elsewhere in Oklahoma. We couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Blake chose music at OKWU because of the Music Business degree. He says, “I really love business but I also thoroughly enjoy creating music, and I’ve always wanted to make my living in this sector. I guess it was the school that made the most sense to me.”
When asked from where he gleans his inspiration, Blake claims that he finds “inspiration in everything. I mean, you can write a song about the flowers and birds or you can look into the city at all the busy people and get something out of it. I just write about what I see and how I feel during that particular time. Life itself is inspirational.”
Blake’s style is mainly country music, because, as he says, “As much as I try, I can’t lose the twang when I sing. My favorite song is probably ‘Bad Times Go Away’ because it’s the song that really opened doors for me, and I’ve never had so many people tell me how that helps them move on when they’ve lost someone near to them.” His song “Bad Times Go Away” was written for a friend who had recently lost a grandparent, and Blake had written it to comfort and encourage him. Audiences can see Blake playing guitar, singing, drumming, or playing the harmonica in any of his songs, and they certainly have a professional timbre to them.
Blake graduated high school at Claremore in 2014 and is majoring in Music Business. He will graduate this May 2019. He lives in Claremore with his beautiful wife, Courtney.
He says, “I really love being outdoors no matter what I’m doing. I’m a really active guy despite my recent dad-bod which I blame on my marriage.” Blake grinned. “The freshman 15 had nothing on the marital 40.”