Photo by Angie Gray
Here’s how the industry powerhouse turned her vocal career into a Middletown-based live music production company with a superstar client list.
As co-founder and CFO of BASSic Black Entertainment, Kaisha Blackstone has provided live music production for superstar touring acts ranging from Drake to Justin Timberlake to Jay-Z. She launched the Middletown-based business in 2010 with her music director husband, Adam; since then, the Blackstones have become an industry power couple, building a network of music directors, singers, songwriters, dancers, musicians, lighting technicians and production managers who collectively transform albums into live music experiences.
Kaisha got her start in the industry interning for a gospel radio station as a freshman at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, majoring in electrical engineering with a voice minor. She met her future husband while touring as a vocalist with singer-songwriter and pianist Vivian Green just as she was rising to stardom in Philadelphia. Over the years, Kaisha and Adam have found continued success in the music industry by staying fresh and nimble—and becoming expert multitaskers.
Delaware Today talked with the powerhouse CFO recently about her firm, her creative process and the world-famous musicians she’s worked with.
Delaware Today: BASSic Black Entertainment bills itself as a music staffing company. How does that work?
Kaisha Blackstone: It’s so much more than staffing. We consider ourselves connectors—the people who established artists and sometimes new artists come to when they want to take their music on the road. Every artist speaks differently, thinks differently, and Adam, as our lead music director, is able to tap into what they’re looking for and find the perfect artists for the tour. So we build a band, find the right musicians, singers, dancers and lighting technicians. That knowledge and guidance is very important to an artist and something that we pride ourselves on.
DT: Taking a music concept that was successful on an album and trying to make it as powerful for a live performance seems like an incredibly difficult task.
KB: When we started our company, we wanted to translate the music on an album, or what an artist had in mind, into something bigger for a live audience. Most artists know what they want to say when writing a song, but for a live performance the music will reach the audience differently. For example, there’s certain drums, bass notes and frequencies of sound that will make the live experience more impactful. It’s not like listening to an album on your headphones or in your car. People connect with artists on a different level during a live performance.
DT: Are you on the road constantly?
KB: We work with artists early in the process to develop a production that will last the duration of a tour. There might be a series of sound check-ins, but we can’t tour exclusively with any one act because we’re usually working with three or four artists touring at the same time.
Photos by Angie Gray
DT: You are an accomplished musician as well?
KB: I was a background singer for many years. I started singing with Vivian Green. I spent some time in Germany, touring and singing with some artists over there. I came back here and toured with Mike Posner, which was a blast, and I also toured with Demi Lovato, which was amazing. I still sing locally as a praise and worship leader at our church, and I write songs for other artists.
DT: What have you done recently that we might have seen?
KB: The Dave Chappelle honoring by the Mark Twain Awards at the Kennedy Center that aired on PBS and now on Netflix. We also had our hand in the Super Bowl halftime show with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. Adam was the music director, and we had a BASSic-sourced band for that production as well. We also did another Super Bowl show with Justin Timberlake a few years back. We had the honor of doing the BET Awards again, only this year it was a virtual event due to the COVID shutdowns. Despite the limitations of working remotely, we still had to create a product that would convey an amazing sound, just not with everyone in the same room.
DT: Do you have any passion projects?
KB: I was able to use this shutdown time to refocus on giving back to the community. I started a nonprofit called the Youth Creative Initiative to help the next generation of kids interested in music, theater and the arts. We’ll have people from our professional network—major hitters from big tours—talk about how they got started in the music industry. We hope to open young people’s imaginations to the many different career paths, because there are so many roles that I think people don’t even consider. Everyone sees the person in the limelight, but I think a lot of young people don’t realize that there are all these other careers in the music entertainment industry.