Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Feb. 14, 2002 - Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Chris Schoessel is aggressively pursuing a career in country music, pouring his heart into the dream he's had since he was a child.

Schoessel, who now uses the stage name Chris Blair, graduated from Southeast in 1997 with a bachelor of arts degree in mass communication, specializing in advertising. After graduation, he worked in a St. Louis advertising agency before moving into the financial planning industry. He currently works as a financial advisor with Renaissance Financial in St. Louis while pursuing his music career in his spare time.

Blair, who sings lead vocals and plays acoustic guitar and harmonica, has released two country music albums and a video since 1998. His first album, "Face to Face," included his debut single "Who Do You Think You Are," which rose to the number one spot on the Independent Country Music Charts in February 1999.

"My first single really shocked me," Blair said. "I couldn't believe that I had a number one hit with my very first single. The listeners seemed to enjoy it, and that's all I can ask for. I want them to be able to 'live' the song and somehow let it touch their heart."

Two other singles from the album, "Why Ask Why" and "Just Like You," also climbed the independent charts to the number one spot in 1999.

Blair earned the New Horizon Award at the 1999 Independent Golden Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn., for his single "Who Do You Think You Are." Winning the award was "a great honor and a feeling that I will never, ever forget," Blair said. He also was nominated for the Best New Male Vocalist and the Best New Rising Star categories, and performed "Who Do You Think You Are" during the awards show.

His second album, "A Tribute to the Heroes of September 11, 2001," was released on July 4, 2002. Only 226 copies were produced, in honor of the nation's 226th year of independence. Each copy was hand numbered and signed by Blair and his band members, and a portion of the proceeds was donated to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I wanted to do something to help out," Blair said. "We worked all night long for several nights to get it out by July 4. It was a good feeling to be able to help."

Blair also filmed a video in 2002 for his hit "Just Like You," a song he wrote for his father.

"The first time I performed this song in public was during Greek Sing while I was attending Southeast," Blair said. "My dad was in the audience and it was the first time he heard it completed."

Blair plans to send his video, which is now in mass production, to CMT with the hope of getting some air play.

Blair has been singing and performing since the age of six when he joined his Imperial, Mo., elementary school choir. He was involved in numerous other musical activities through school, church and various choirs during his youth. He toured with the Mid-America Children's Choir, performing in St. Louis area nursing homes, at the Opryland Theme Park and the Hermitage in Nashville, Tenn., and for President Ronald Reagan in Washington D.C.

"I spent my entire childhood in music groups and musicals," he said. "It's what seemed natural for me. I would live to be on stage, singing, performing and doing whatever I could to make others enjoy the entertainment."

During his time at Southeast, Blair sang with the University Choir and became one of only 25 singers from Missouri chosen to perform with the Missouri Ambassadors of Music. The group toured seven European countries, and Blair performed as a soloist in every country the group toured.

Blair also experienced his first taste of studio recording while he was attending Southeast. He was asked to record a cover song for a Ryder System, Inc. safety tape in 1994. The experience motivated Blair to save enough money to cut a demo tape that he could send out to recording labels in Nashville, Tenn., which, after a lot of legwork on Blair's part, eventually produced the contacts he needed to record his first album.

Blair also made Southeast history when he performed one of his own songs at his graduation ceremony, becoming the first person to ever perform during the University's commencement exercises. The idea and the encouragement for the song, which he wrote expressly for Southeast graduation, came from Blair's mother.

"It was a great honor to be part of it, to be the first person to perform during the ceremony," he said.

Blair speaks highly of his education from Southeast.

"I enjoyed my time at the University and I wouldn't have wanted to hold a degree from anywhere else," he said. "Southeast was perfect. I was highly involved in campus events and in my fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha. The education that I received was key in helping me continue to pursue my music career. As a mass communication major, I received insight on how studios work, how TV stations work and how to personally put promotional materials together and advertise myself. I'm proud to be an alumnus of Southeast and I look forward to the day that I can come back to my alma mater and perform at the Show Me Center."

Blair now balances his time between working as a financial adviser and pursuing his dream of becoming a successful country music performer. He and his band are on the road performing almost every weekend.

"I try to make every person feel like I'm looking and singing directly to them," Blair said. "I hope and pray that someday this dream will become a reality, but, until then, I'll just keep writing, keep singing and have the best time of my life doing it."

For more information about Blair, visit his Web site at


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