The First 156 Days…


My name is Mikayla. As a recent graduate in a brand new city, with no Charlottean friends, it was a miracle I found Key Signature thanks to an extremely kind stranger at the time (thank you Carla). I started off as an intern, because, who was this random girl right out of college? I had to prove myself.  Prove that I could belong with this company that I just discovered existed and could provide me with a career in the job field that I actually got a degree in.  I never thought that would happen – but there I was with an open door in front of me.


I had to learn fast.  And I had to learn who Key Signature’s friends were.  My first networking experience was an ILEA field trip where we drank mimosas on the bus ride, and there was an open bar, ATV rides and trap shooting at the venue.  I thought, I could get used to this.  I met some great people, and forgot names as fast as I learned them.  I realized there, that I would learn about who Key Signature was through these people, not just through my boss, Brandon and co-worker, Carlton.

I started to learn the emotional side of our business through these networking events. How much these people respect Brandon and the company he’s built, and how caring and helpful this community was, and how welcomed I felt. I realized that this was an environment in which I could see myself thrive. I also realized how important the customer service side of this job would be – thankfully I had a lot of experience in that field already. Although I’d soon learn that customer service in New York was much different than customer service in North Carolina.

I started to absorb every detail about this company that I could from Brandon and Carlton.  We started scheduling meetings where we had to become representatives of the company and relay every detail of what we do. I realized that there’s a lot of different things that make up Key Signature.  We book music,but people don’t always realize all the different types of music we can book, from local solo musicians to big party bands, to national artists.  We also book holiday entertainment and family entertainment and corporate entertainment and speakers and really, anything you could possibly want that falls in the ‘entertainment’ category for an event.  If you can imagine, that requires a huge database and I’m still learning it all.



After about two months, I was hired as a full time employee with Key Signature – woohoo!! But then I had to prove not only that I belonged here, but that I could be a true asset to the company.  That’s where I am now.  I’ve learned what the company does, and now it’s time to make my footprint in it.

What I know at this point is that I’m extremely lucky to be a part of the Key Signature team and I still have a lot to learn, but the possibilities are endless. Stick around to see where this journey takes us – I’m just as curious as you are!


Between Two Macs with Brandon & Carlton

We liked the catchy title of the show hosted by Zach Galifianakis so much that we decided to do something a little similar. Here is an interview given between two gentlemen who work together through their Macs. No verbal conversation, just emails. That leaves a lot of gray area for interpretation. Take it as you want!



Brandon to Carlton:

1.    You’ve been out of college for almost a year now….How is life treating you?

One word…adulting. I’m not sure if that is a real word or not, but for now we will act like it is. There were a lot of things that I expected to just happen and did not think about the process of how those things get done. For example, I learned to never put a deposit down on an apartment that has not opened yet. There are a lot of things that didn’t go my way but I’ve taken some pretty good lessons from them.

2.    You decided to take this job at Key Signature back in August…..Was it everything you thought it would be?

I was not expecting to be running around so much when I first got here, but that’s what I get for joining Key Signature in the middle of event season. I’ve gotten a lot more from this job than I ever planned. I was expecting a typical 9:00 – 5:00 and that is not what this is at all. I honestly think I lucked out by how much I’ve gotten and learned from working at Key Signature and under you.

3.    What have you learned about me that surprised you?
Well you recently showed of how freakishly good you are at Connect 4. I get frustrated because you NEVER lose at anything.
4.    14457500_10154570503497533_296478167855888783_nWhat part of this job has made you step outside of your comfort zone?
Networking. Networking and having to just walk up to people and start talking to someone who I do not know was really hard for me. That’s why I always followed you around like a little puppy at the beginning or I waited to be approached by others. Now, I probably talk too much to people.

5.    Do you have to sing everything???
Maybe if you didn’t get songs stuck in my head ALL OF THE TIME, I wouldn’t sing as much. But don’t be fooled, I hear you quietly singing in your office after you hear me!


Carlton to Brandon:

1. What made you get into the entertainment business rather than perform?

People who knew me back in my SC days will remember me singing and performing all of the time.  I started singing in the 6th grade mentored by some really talented 8th graders.  These guys were really naturally talented.  Pitch perfect and runs for days.  I wanted to be like them.  So me and the younger guys practiced every day.  We came to school early and left late.  We started a RnB boy group called Forte.  We thought we were going to be the next Boyz II Men.  We showcased every chance we could get.  Striped polos and Kango hats were our thing.  I started wanting to learn the business of music in high school, decided to study music business in college and fell in love with the behind the scenes work that it takes to produce a show or concert. I had some really good professional mentors as well and now its weird to be the mentor.  I think having been a performer helps me be better at spotting great talent.  It gives me more confidence on who to suggest to our clients. 
2.  What was your end goal when you started Key Signature? Has it changed or grown?
I guess to build something that our employees, clients, and artists trust and respect.  Then retire and let one of you guys run it!  I think at this point, we’ve definitely done that.  Now if I can just get to the retirement part, relax and visit you from time to time.  I do think the original concept did change.  The clients needs dictated our services and we grew faster than I expected.  I’ve got some ideas for the future.  Everyone will just have to wait and see.

IMG_60343.Have you learned anything new since bringing me on in August?
Some skills can’t be taught and some people are blessed with natural gifts.  I can’t quite figure out why everyone likes you so much…..(joking).  I’ve learned that history repeats itself in different forms.  I’ve definitely learned the virtue of patience.
4. Why do you think we work well together?
Gold and Blue my friend.  No other way to explain it.  Take the TRUE COLORS personality assessment and you’ll know what I mean.
5. Be honest, what is it that I am better than you at doing?
I got nothing!  I’ll give you social media.  Definitely not driving.  You might be a better singer than me, but it’ll take a lot of drinks for anyone to find out.

At the end of the day, we are just two guys who love to try and outdo the other, but also love working together. As you can see, there is never a dull moment, no angst, and not a day where we dread working together…most of the time.


Internship Life

An internship is an opportunity for an individual to gain real-world experience in a field that is of interest to them. 9 times out of 10 these positions are filled with college students looking to build there resumes and hopefully use this as a tool to improve their chances of landing a full-time job. In todays society experience is everything, and a good majority of entry level positions are seeking potential employees with at least 1-2 years worth of experience.

620x300xinternship.jpg.pagespeed.ic.UiGbIIvA2vMy name is Cheyenne Dunbar, and I am Key Signature Entertainment’s 2016 summer intern. I embarked on this journey not only for self discovery; to see if this was the right fit for me, but also to learn about the event industry because knowledge is power. For me an internship is about diving head first into it. I didn’t want to just sit in an office all day like I do with my part-time job; I wanted to get out and get my hands dirty so to speak.

Last Saturday, June 25,  I worked my first event. The event was a concert from Freedom Parks – Freedom Summer Series that Mecklenburg Park and Recreation puts on every year. I honestly didn’t know what was in store for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself that day. I was able to see how an event operates from start to finish. We arrived several hours before the show start time to begin behind the scenes preparations. Each member of the team was doing his or her part for the success of the show. Between getting musicians checked in, getting their equipment unloaded and taken down to the stage, listening to each group do their soundcheck, making sure everyone was fed, and on top of that dealing with being accidentally double booked with another party for the same building.

13567179_10153158830332614_6432324484579181802_nIt was definitely a steady stream of tasks to handle, and we were able to work out a solution with the other group that was accidentally booked with us. Having experienced that situation I truly believe the key to a successful event is planning ahead and giving yourself enough time to do everything. That way you’re not rushing around trying to be everywhere at once, and if bumps arise you have enough time to properly deal with them. I worked the merchandise table once the performances kicked off from 6-9p.m, and was able to enjoy the concert like everyone else. I even met Matt Marshak, a popular contemporary jazz artist. His demeanor was inviting and he came across as a very relaxed and normal kind of guy. On the plus side I also got a signed copy of his latest album, so Im excited to listen to it this coming weekend.

Saturday was also more than just working an event, it was family oriented as well. I was easily welcomed by the other members and I felt a part of the team; instead of like an outsider which I truly appreciated.

This experience thus far has been an amazing one. Not only have I been soaking up everything I can about the event industry, but my skills and knowledge have also been put to the test. Working here has required that I think outside the box, but in a way that also works for me. I’m not here to do what someone did before me, I’m here to make my own unique contributions that’ll hopefully continue on and be useful to Key Signature once Im gone.

A Year In Review: 2015

What a year! We’ve had such a crazy year that we forgot to blog…almost. Please excuse us! 2015 has proven to be our biggest year yet. So much has happened and we are extremely proud of what Key Signature has been able to be a part of this year. We’ve worked with so many great vendors, artists, and friends in the industry. It would take all day to thank all of the talented people we’ve worked with this year, but we want to showcase a few of our favorite events from the year!

April 2015: ISES Greater Charlotte Chapter Crown Jewel Awards

Key Signature was honored to win not one, but two awards at this years Crown Jewel Awards! We went home with “Best Entertainment Production over $25K” for the 2014 Romare Fest and “Best Public Event Over 20K Attendees” for Matthews Alive 2014. Click here to see more photos!


May 2015: Romare Fest

The second annual Romare Fest was back in a big way this year, featuring regional and national blues artists. It was a great way for us to kick off our summer season. Our headliner was the Grammy nominated group The Spin Doctors, and these guys were awesome! Not only did they put on a great show, but they were a blast to hang out with. Click here for more photos!


June-August 2015: Freedom Summer Series

For the third year, Mecklenburg County Park and Rec has brought national level jazz acts to beautiful Freedom Park. We can’t thank everyone involved enough for helping make this beloved series such a huge success. This year we featured artists like Gregg Karukas, Kim Scott, Jessy J, Gino Castillo, Jackiem Joyner, Selina Albright, and David P. Stevens. A special thank you to Tammy Greene, The Jazz Diva, for being our emcee this summer and for bringing the crowds! Visit our Facebook page for more albums from this series.


Labor Day weekend 2015: Matthews Alive

Once again, Matthews Alive was a hit this year. With 4 days of live entertainment and fun for people of all ages, there was something for everyone. KSE ran three different stages simultaneously throughout the event, bringing in local, regional, and national acts. This years headliners featured Jim Quick & Coastline, Aeromyth: Tribute to Aerosmith, and country music legends Blackhawk! Click here for more photos!


Another highlight of the year was this October when we had Grammy award winning Zydeco artist Terrance Simien at Romare Bearden’s Fall Festival. After the show, we got to hold one of his Grammy awards ourselves!


What would you like to see from Key Signature in 2016? Let us know on our Twitter or Facebook page!

We are so proud to have been chosen (and trusted!) by our clients to help make their events this year the best they could possibly be. Our goal for 2016 is to continue to grow in our relationships with our clients and other event professionals, and to keep to providing the very best in live entertainment! We wish you and your loved ones a happy and prosperous new year!

2014 to 2015: What we’ve learned

Well, we made it to 2015! It’s hard to believe after the year we just had that we’re already gearing up to do just as many (if not more) events than last year. Key Signature is looking forward to bringing you the best in entertainment yet again in 2015. At the beginning of each new year, many people make resolutions, as well as reflect on the year behind them.

Here are a few things we learned from some events in 2014:

-Give as much detail beforehand as possible to your team and artists (even though some things still won’t happen exactly the way you want them to!)

-Bring everything you think you might need, even if you end up needing none of it. Better to be prepared!

-Never take a good spot of shade for granted.

-Continue to appreciate the great team that works with you on big events. They’re life savers.

-When in doubt, refer back to your hard copies (of which you made extra because other team members always ask for them).

-Live Tweeting and posting to social media on site is a great way to let people see what is happening in real time, and is an incentive to get those who still haven’t made it out to the event. Nobody wants to miss out on fun!

-Connect. Share. Discuss. It’s all about who you know!

Here’s a photo of part of our team from the 2014 Matthews Alive Festival. We hope to see you out at many shows and events this year. It’s going to be a great one. We can feel it already!

Part of the Key Signature team that worked the 2014 Matthews Alive Festival

Key Signature team

The Year In Review (So Far)


We’ve had a whirlwind past few months here at Key Signature Entertainment! When the weather is warm, we’re on the move planning and producing what seems like an endless stream of concerts and events (which is a great problem to have). Hopefully you’ve had the chance to make it out to a few shows this concert season. We’ve put on so many, from the Freedom Summer Series with local and regional jazz artists, the Stumptown Park Series in downtown Matthews, our weekly Party in the Park series at Romare Bearden Park uptown, and so many more. Just two weekends ago we produced not one but TWO festivals in one weekend! Can you say crazy? Both Matthews Alive and The Bearden Birthday Bash were a huge success this year. We’re lucky to have a great team of people to fall back on and help us work these events, because there are so many moving parts behind the scenes!

In it’s 22nd year, Matthews Alive continues to grow and just get better and better. We had a great lineup of performers this year, including The Legendary Tams, Springsteen Tribute- Bruce in the USA, and Country superstars LITTLE TEXAS. We had three different stages and dozens of performers over the four day festival, and we couldn’t have done it without the amazing team we had helping coordinate all of those performers at once! We had everything from magicians, a hypnotist, a singer-songwriter series, a show choir, and many great local and regional acts covering many genres. A special thanks to all of our friends with The Town of Matthews and Matthews Alive! Here are a few photos from the festival. Click on the photos to go to our complete Matthews Alive album on Facebook: 1) Springsteen Tribute Bruce in the USA rocked the Main Stage on Saturday, August 30th  2) Grammy nominated Country superstars LITTLE TEXAS put on a rockin’ country show Sunday night on august 31st


Bruce in the USA

Bruce in the USA




The Bearden Birthday Bash was also a success, as we along with Mecklenburg County Park & Rec celebrated one full year of programming at this beautiful uptown park. We celebrated for three days from August 29th-August 31st with local and regional jazz artists. Also at the festival were many local artists displaying and selling their pieces, food trucks, roving entertainment including caricatures artists and face painters, and so much more! It was a hot weekend but the crowds didn’t seem to mind the heat and we had great audiences all weekend! A special thanks to our friends at Party Reflections, JHE Productions, and all of the Key Signature team that came out to make this festival a success! Click on the photo to see our complete Facebook album from this event: 1) A panoramic shot of the stage and crown at Romare Bearden Park


Bearden Birthday Bash

Bearden Birthday Bash

Even after all of these great shows, event season isn’t over just yet! We’re excited for what is still to come this year, so make sure to keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter to find out what’s coming up next!

Hannibal- Unique Inspirational Theater

We love our magicians here at KS. But we can hardly call some of them that, because they are really so much more. We’ve been working with Chris Hannibal, better known as Hannibal, for a long time now. This Charlotte native has used his talent and personality to become one of the top magicians in the WORLD. Check this out!


Top 10 Magicians in North America!

Have you heard???  Charlotte’s very own, unique inspirational magic artist, Chris Hannibal, will be representing North America in the World Championship of Magic in July 2015!!!

Chris Hannibal has been enchanting us with his unique, close up magic tricks and inspirational theater shows in Charlotte for over 20 years!  Hannibal is talented and fortunate enough to travel the world with his craft.  Spending a lot of time living out of suitcases and hotel rooms, he endearingly documents his adventures as #gypsyboots and loves every bit of it.

Traveling the world being as experienced and talented as he is, Hannibal has made many friends along the way.  About a year ago, a good friend and FISM Grand Prix Champion, Shawn Farquhar offered his opinion that Hannibal needed more recognition from fellow magicians and suggested that FISM was just the place for it.   After watching Hannibal’s ‘Silver Memories” act, he felt that the act was beautiful and worthy of the award (See sample of “Silver Memories” here: ).

For those of us outside of the magical world, FISM is THE organization that brings together the world’s best magicians in a competition for the most prestigious title.  FISM, Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques, has been in existence since 1948 and consists of both national and international magic societies which are subdivided into 6 continental divisions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and Oceania.

Hannibal readily submitted a sample video of one of his close up magic shows along with over 200 other close up magicians.  He carried on his gypsyboots life until receiving a phone call inviting him to proceed with the interview process.  The FISM organization was tasked with narrowing down the 200 gifted magicians to a total of24.  Part of the process was completing very intense interviews with the head of the contest committee.   FISM was in search for not only the talent and entertainment, but the heart and soul of each presentation.  The 24 best magicians were invited to St. Louis, MO to compete for 7 slots available to North America in the world Championship next summer.  Hannibal moved on in the competition as one of the 24 magicians to compete for FISM North America.

Earlier this month, FISM held its FISM North America Competition.  The four long, competitive days complete with unbelievable talent was worth this incredible journey because Hannibal was awarded one of the 7 slots!  Hannibal says, “Support and inspiration from family, friends, and respected colleagues motivated me, and while you can be inspired by many things, you HAVE to motivate yourself, so that’s what I did”.

We look forward to following Hannibal’s gypsy boots journey to FISM World Championship next summer!  If you haven’t attended a Chris Hannibal show or motivational seminar, you absolutely need to! Who doesn’t want to witness one of the top 10 magicians of North America?!


If you want to learn more about Hannibal, click here!

Professional relationships & the events industry

Event (n): a thing that happens, especially one of importance; a planned public or social occasion.

Events are all about bringing people together. But what about the process of planning one of those? Are we coming together to do so? Do our relationships with other business professionals reflect in the planning and execution of our events? Are we bringing ourselves together in the best way possible to create an unforgettable event? Maybe not always.

Being in this industry, we know it to be true that it really is about who you know. And not only who you know, but who you have great professional relationships with. We are there as much as humanly possible for our clients, often going to shows or events that we may not even need to be at, just to make sure the client is happy and that everything is running smoothly. Building these relationships helps us communicate better, understand, and learn from every single event we put on.

This all starts before the event ever happens. In today’s world, smart phones and internet have taken over face-to-face conversations and phone calls. Meetings have turned into text messaging and emails. But if you really want to get to know someone and they way they ‘tick’, then you’ve got to build that face-to-face relationship. Not only does it build trust, but there are so many underlying tones and messages that you will never be able to see in that 3 page email. It’s also a good way to get an idea of what it might be like to work with someone before it ever even happens. True, most of our work takes place over emails and phone calls. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make an effort to get to know those who we’re trading conversation threads with.

Here’s some photos of us and some of our industry friends having a good time at last years EVIE Awards, presented by the Charlotte ISES Chapter! By the way, Key Signature won 3 awards: Best Event Production Under $25,000, Best Event Production over $25,000, & Best Team Effort!

2013 EVIE Awards

2013 EVIE Awards

Another great way to communicate with other event professionals is to just get out there, network, and get to know them. Don’t necessarily think ‘What can they do for me?’,  but rather  ‘What can I do for them?’ It goes a long way. These groups of people are easier to find than you think. We are members of ISES (International Special Events Society), NACE (National Association of Catering and Events), and Visit Charlotte. All of these groups connect business and event professionals; providing events to help them not only make their own business better, but get to know each other.

What do you think? What are your favorite ways to connect with a client or potential business partner? Let’s get social!

What has Key Signature done?

Whether you’ve known about us or are just learning about us, Key Signature has been a part of some really great events in Charlotte and beyond. You may have not even realized it. Back in 2012, we were part of the team that coordinated entertainment for the DNC Media Party that welcomed some 15,000 members of the media to the Queen City. Here’s a testimonial from Mary Tribble, who was head of the planning team for this specific event.

“I led the event department for the Democratic National Convention Host Committee in Charlotte. In my role, I was responsible for planning a welcome event for 15,000 members of the media. Key Signature was a key leader in our team to plan this event. They researched, contacted and booked entertainment for approximately 15 venues at the NC Music Factory. I cannot recommend Key Signature highly enough. They were efficient, effective, responsive and produced results on a short time frame. They were a pleasure to work with on every level and helped make the DNC Media Party a huge success. I recommend Key Signature Entertainment enthusiastically.”

– Mary Tribble, Former Deputy Executive Director of Hospitality and Events Charlotte in 2012 Convention Committee

So it turned out that 2012 was a pretty good year for us. Fast forward to 2013; we had plenty going on. In June we hosted Nnenna Freelon and Branford Marsalis at Freedom Park for a charity concert supporting Partners for Parks of Mecklenburg Country. A crowd of close to 2,000 people gathered to hear jazz in the park and support a great cause.

Photo: a shot of Nnenna Freelon on stage from across the crowd.


At the end of summer, we had two of our biggest events of the year. Matthews Alive and the Grand Opening of the Romare Bearden Park in uptown Charlotte both happened on Labor Day weekend. Matthews Alive was once again huge success, with Boston/Styxx tribute BOSTYXX bringing down the house in Matthews. Many residents say that it was the best concert they’ve seen at Matthews Alive ever! At Romare Bearden, we had two days of music leading up to country music star Jo Dee Messina headlining a free concert to the public that Saturday night.

Photos from top to bottom: 1) Shableek & Uncommon Jazz took the stage at the brand new Romare Bearden Park as part of the Friday night jazz lineup 2) A gorgeous view of the Charlotte skyline from Romare Bearden Park shortly after the rains left at the Grand Opening. 3) Country star Jo Dee Messina performed as the parks first big headliner.




The year continued with plenty of events to keep us busy. 2014 is looking really good so far. So next time you’re out at an event, look around to see who might have played a part in it. There’s a very good chance that it might be us!

Unique Entertainment

More and more, we are seeing out of the box entertainment at events. We have seen recent events that had clients hiring aerialists, performers on stilts dressed as larger than life characters, belly dancers, and more. Creating a “Wow!” factor has now become an essential part of the biggest events.

Themed events are using these types of entertainment to their full advantage, dressing the performers in their theme and truly bringing a realistic atmosphere to their space. Event companies are getting seriously creative. We’ve seen some amazing stuff: contortionists, showgirls, living statues, girls with giant dresses that hand out desserts and drinks to guests, living red carpets, and so much more.

Imagination seems to be the only limit with entertainment like this. Want a champagne chandelier where and aerialist serves your guest glasses of champagne while hanging upside down? Or a group flash mob of dancers to surprise your guests? No problem.

Here is a photo of stilt walkers dressed in modern Harlequin costumes that we had at the DNC Media Party in 2012:


Specialty performers are especially in demand during the holidays.  Carolers dressed in traditional Victorian era clothing are very popular. We had a holiday event back in December where we had a life size Toy Soldier who talked to children and handcrafted balloon animals for them. At the same event as an Elf who was Santa’s assistant and interacted with children as they were waiting to meet the big man himself.

The sky is no longer the limit when it comes to these types of novelty entertainment. Whatever you can dream up can pretty much be brought to life by todays professionals!