John McBride, owner of the internationally renowned Nashville-based Blackbird Studio, has spent his entire life in the pursuit of quality, professional sound. Getting his start in live sound by launching MD Systems Sound in his hometown of Wichita, he came to Nashville in late 1990. He sold the company to Clair Brothers Audio in 1997 and fulfilled a lifelong dream by opening Blackbird Studio in 2002 and hosting sessions from the likes of Tim McGraw, Kid Rock, and Grammy winning projects by Jack White and Kings of Leon. An avowed champion of analog recording, he has amassed one of the greatest collections of vintage and modern recording equipment on the planet, including a microphone collection without equal. In 2013, he opened The Blackbird Academy, dedicated to advancing the quality of recording education through a hands-on, professional training curriculum. He is married to country superstar Martina McBride, his partner in life and business; he has three children.
Carma Bandstra has been in the education and music industries for over 20 years. While in the music industry she has worked in recording studios, tour management and as a professional event/concert photographer. Carma has worked with artists/bands including Bon Jovi, Stone Temple Pilots, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and many more.
Carma believes that education is an essential part of life. She has taught at the High School, University and corporate levels. Carma has degrees in Education, Audio Engineering and Entertainment Business.
Mark Rubel has taught audio, music technology, music business, and the history of rock to thousands of students since 1985. He has taught at various colleges and universities, and served as the Audio and Recording Director at Eastern Illinois University’s $70 million Doudna Arts Center.
Mark has recorded and produced extensively since 1980, both at his Pogo Studio in Champaign, Illinois and elsewhere. His list of clients includes Hum, Alison Krauss, Rascal Flatts, Fall Out Boy, Ludacris, Adrian Belew, Luther Allison, Jay Bennett, Melanie, Ian Hobson, Henry Butler and many more. For the Wall to Wall/Ellnora Guitar Festival, he has recorded Los Lobos, Calexico, Ani DiFranco, The National, Junior Brown, Derek Trucks, Taj Mahal and many others.
He serves as panelist, moderator, lecturer, workshop leader and recording judge at numerous audio conferences, including national and regional Audio Engineering Society Conferences, the Tape Op and Potluck Conferences, SXSW, and many more. He is on the national board of SPARS (the Society of Professional Recording Services) and also belongs to NARAS, AES, ASCAP, MEIEA and EARS.
Mark is a musician, recording engineer and producer, and also works as a consultant and legal expert witness in the fields of audio and copyright. He has written occasionally in such publications as Mix Magazine and for Tape Op Magazine, for whom he interviewed Les Paul.
Kevin Becka has been a musician and recording engineer for over 30 years. He has engineered and been on the production teams for the top names in secular and Christian music including George Benson, Kenny G., Quincy Jones, Michael Bolton, Matt Maher, Gretchen Harris, Danielle Rose, Paul Melle, Tom Booth, George Lynch, and more.
Kevin has taught audio recording at the High School and post-secondary levels including teaching surround recording at the Danish Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, Denmark; advanced recording at Belmont University; and served as a Director of Education, instructor and lecturer for over 10 years.
Kevin is also a seasoned journalist serving as editor of both Audio Media and Pro Audio Review magazines, and has been technical editor of Mix Magazine since 2003 where he writes the TechTalk column, product reviews and features. In his work with Mix, Kevin has written, produced and hosted webcasts for Royer Labs, Millennia Media, Avid, Focusrite, Lynx Studio, Universal Audio, Mackie, Shure and Stanford Research.
Kevin is a voting member of The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), a board member of The Society of Professional Recording Services (SPARS) and a member of the Audio Engineering Society (AES).
Tony Cottrill has worked as a recording and live sound engineer, musician and educator for over 35 years. He has worked with some of the top acts in music including Exile, Juice Newton, The Turtles, Earl Thomas Conley, Chely Wright, Trace Adkins, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Leon Redbone, Tanya Tucker and more. Tony’s educational background includes his role as Coordinator of Sound Reinforcement at Belmont University in The Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business. While at Belmont he started a student-operated live sound company called Clear as a Bell and won the 2009 CEMB Best Adjunct Instructor award. Tony has also taught at the SAE Institute in Nashville and The Recording Workshop in Ohio.
Scott Phillips has been managing studios for more than sixteen years, handling projects for such clients as Kings of Leon, Taylor Swift, The White Stripes, Pearl Jam, and Martina McBride, as well as for producer/engineers such as Brendan O’Brien, Joe Chiccarelli, Mutt Lange, Dann Huff and many others.
Scott started his career as a Studio Coordinator at Masterfonics Studio in Nashville, then moved up to Studio Manager, a position he held for nine years. John McBride then recruited Scott to run Blackbird Studio in 2005.
Scott is an alumnus of Leadership Music, a member of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), and serves on the board for The Society of Professional Recording Services (SPARS). Scott and his wife Chris have been married since 2003 and have two sons.
Nick Shasserre has been a part of Blackbird since 2006, rising through the ranks to become the Assistant Studio Manager and IT Administrator.
He holds a B.A. in Communications from Southern Illinois University, and an Associates Degree from Nashville State Community College in Computer Networking. As an engineer, Nick’s credits include Jewel, John Rich, Martina McBride, Chuck Wicks and The White Stripes.
Nick is happily married to his wife, Miriam, and together they have twins, Natalie and Matthew. He’s a self-proclaimed nerd of all things electronic, and a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan.
LeeAnn Carlen comes to The Blackbird Academy with six years of experience in Artist Management.
A 2007 graduate from the College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University, LeeAnn began working for Vector Management immediately upon graduation. She has worked with such artists as Ben Folds, Emmylou Harris, Manchester Orchestra, Trisha Yearwood, Dierks Bentley, Ke$ha, Trace Adkins, The Invite, Ashton Shepherd, Craig Morgan, Aaron Lewis, Relient K, Cheap Trick and The Fray.
LeeAnn is a board member of Bonaparte’s Retreat, a dog rescue started and run by Emmylou Harris, and is a voting member of the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and the Country Music Association (CMA).