Born in Paris, Texas, Neely began tinkering on the family piano at the age of four, and his parents quickly arranged for lessons. He soon started writing his own short songs. By the time he saw Star Wars at the age of eight, he knew he wanted to be a composer.
Neely played the French horn beginning in middle school, bought his first synthesizer at the age of 14, and played drums in a couple rock bands during high school. After a piano audition, he was not accepted into the music school at the University of Texas, but enrolled and got a summer internship in the film music department at Disney Studios while majoring in linguistics. That led to his first job after graduating, at Disney
's Hollywood Records
. He found freelance work writing music instruction books for Hal Leonard beginning in 1996, the same year he began orchestrating for his mentor, Michael Kamen
. That led to work for composers such as Vangelis
and Hans Zimmer
, and by the turn of the millennium, he was collecting steady credits for additional music, conducting, and orchestrating for films such as The Iron Giant (1999), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), and Catwoman (2004).
In the meantime, he netted a job as main composer for the TV drama Everwood (2002-2006). The show's theme earned him an Emmy nomination in 2003. Around that time, he also wrote the scores for several short films and History Channel documentaries before landing feature-length films such as the Forest Whitaker-directed First Daughter (2004) and the romantic comedy The Wedding Date (2005). While he continued to score the occasional film, his television workload picked up considerably with series including but not limited to Brothers & Sisters (2006-2011), The Mentalist (2008-2015), and, beginning in 2012, Arrow, his first DC Comics superhero series. He went on to compose for the concurrent DC shows The Flash (2014-2016) and Supergirl, which premiered in 2015. With the exception of Arrow: Season 1, which was issued by Silva Screen
, all of the DC shows received season-by-season soundtrack releases by La-La Land Records
. The label also released Neely's music for the teen drama Riverdale, which began airing in 2017. ~ Marcy Donelson, Rovi