30 Under 30: Brandon Blackwell, Production Manager/FOH

Brandon Blackwell

In celebration of LDI’s 30th anniversary—1988-2018—Live Design gives a shout out to 30 Under 30: thirty young movers and shakers who are changing paradigms, looking at things from new angles, and rapidly rising to the forefront of their field. From scenic, lighting, projection, and costume designers to technicians and programmers, as well as those who work for manufacturers, production companies, or rental shops, our 30 Under 30 are the harbingers of tomorrow.

Some people spend decades carving out careers in audio, and some skyrocket to the big league in a flash. It’s safe to say that Brandon Blackwell is in the latter category. Since graduating Full Sail University just five years ago with a B.A. in Show Production and Touring, Blackwell has toured the world with music’s biggest superstars, from Pharrell and Ne-Yo to Tori Kelly, Puff Daddy, A$AP Rocky, and Usher—and that’s just scratching the surface. Blackwell brings a broad range of skills, serving as production manager, FOH, and monitor engineer, depending on where the gig takes him. And though his touring clients might grab the headlines, he also extends his expertise to production work for houses of worship, seminars, theatrical events, conferences, concerts, and television specials. Blackwell says he loves the thrill and camaraderie that come with working in live entertainment: “Each day is an adventure. Night in and out, we put on the same show, but each stop has its own challenges. And when we work together as a team, we get the job done.”

Name: Brandon R. Blackwell

Age: 27

City, state of residence: South Orange, NJ

Position/title: PM/FOH/MON/Playback

Employer: Freelance

Current project(s): Monitors for Camila Cabello and PM/FOH for DVSN

Most notable achievements: Ne-Yo performance at the White House for President Obama’s last state dinner.

When I started in this industry: 2014

How I got into this industry: After graduating from Full Sail in 2013, I did a little freelance work in NYC. Then, by some act of God, my mom’s boss met the (at the time) musical director of American Idol, Ray Chew. She decided to set up a meeting, and the rest was history. I was the PM/MON for him and his company, Chew Entertainment, for just under a year before going completely freelance in 2015.

Influences: Mom and Dad, Robert Gilbert (grandfather), John Sheldon (teacher/mentor), Sean Sturge (mentor), Andre Williams (friend/mentor), Lloyd Vaughan (friend/mentor), Fa Mtume (mentor)

Worst advice I've ever heard: Remain in my comfort zone and don’t take a risk.

Best advice I've ever heard: Take a leap of faith.

My favorite thing about the production industry: My favorite thing would have to be traveling to new places and seeing the crowd’s reaction to whatever show I am mixing.

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: DiGiCo, Waves, Sennheiser

Plans for the future: For the future of my business, I would like to expand my company, Blackwell Productions, and continue to send out fellow sound engineers. For my personal future and the end goal of my career, I would love to be a FOH music mixer for awards shows. This has been my goal from the beginning.

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