President, Institutional Director
John McBride, owner of the internationally renowned Nashville-based Blackbird Studio and Institutional Director of The Blackbird Academy, 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. John was recognized at the 2014 Pensado Awards where he won for Live Sound / FOH engineer and Educator. He is married to country superstar Martina McBride, his partner in life and business; he has three children.
Director Of Student Operations & Marketing
Carma DiCianni 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.
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 at the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences.
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).
Director Of Live Sound
Kyle Welch has worked as a professional musician for more than 24 years and as a live sound and recording engineer for over 19. Kyle’s work as an audio engineer has crossed many genres including artists such as Doc Watson, Lonestar, and Terri Clark. Kyle has been teaching audio at the college level since 2003. His education includes classical and jazz guitar studies at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and entertainment technology studies and Guilford Technical Community College in North Carolina.
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.