Jonathan (Chad) Carlson
Chad Carlson, a recording engineer and producer, French horn player, and guitarist, has worked with nationally known artists such as Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss, Point of Grace, and Taylor Swift. He began working with Swift in 2004 when she was fifteen and not well known, helping her prepare demos which led to a contract with a record company at age seventeen.
He engineered all three of her albums, including Fearless, which won Grammy awards for Album of the Year and Country Album of the Year. Carlson, who had worked closely with Swift in the production of the albums, was on stage with her when she accepted the awards.
Chad was born and raised in Orlando, Florida, one of two sons born to Rodney and Marlene Mayhew Carlson. He was raised in a home where music was an important activity. His mother is a singer and saxophonist who also directs choirs, and his father is a singer and trombonist who performs in ensembles. He started music study at an early age and was active in grade school and high school music groups, when Ken Parsons, band director at Forest Lake Academy, was his musical mentor.
He attended Southern Adventist University from 1991 to 1993 with a scholarship for French horn study and played in the Chattanooga Symphony. Although he initially planned to become a professional French horn player, at heart he was more interested in contemporary music than classical and decided to pursue a career as a recording producer and engineer.
In 2002 Carlson graduated from the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Arizona, completed an apprenticeship in Nashville, and started to work in Sound Emporium Studios. He became an assistant engineer and worked on several significant projects, including the soundtracks for Cold Mountain and Walk the Line.
He then worked for Garth Fundis, a well-known producer for leading Nashville performers. Carlson now maintains his own studio, Hippo Sound (www.chadcarlsonaudio.com) and also works out of other premier studios in Nashville.
Sources: IAMA Biography Sheet; E-mail exchange, 8 November 2010; Brittany Russell, "Southern Alum Wins Grammy," Southern Adventist University website, 23 February 2010; personal knowledge about parents.