Rock and roll is as much a part of college as studying, but for some it’s serious business.
Brandon Kirkley, a UNC Charlotte graduate student in communications, and Jocelyn Ellis, a senior studying business administration, each serve as lead singers for their bands Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers and Jocelyn Ellis and The Alpha Theory. But they’re also trying to lead their groups toward commercial success and mass appeal using knowledge and skills they’ve gained in their studies at UNC Charlotte.
Both bands already have developed large followings both on and off campus with their unique sounds and original music, performing at Charlotte venues such as Tremont Hall and others throughout the Carolinas.
Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers, who often go by the shorter acronym BKTF, has opened for several acts that have traveled through the region. Jocelyn Ellis and The Alpha Theory plan to perform in New York City this fall.
Kirkley will graduate with a master’s degree in liberal studies, focusing on new and old media. He said his communications studies at UNC Charlotte have helped him to market himself and the band.
Last summer, Kirkley took on another significant role at UNC Charlotte, becoming the first station manager of Radio Free Charlotte, UNC Charlotte’s new digital radio station.
The station started with no funding, Kirkley said, but has been building a reputation as a station where you can get something different, maybe something you haven’t heard elsewhere. Kirkley’s building his DJ roster now. Students don’t get paid, but they can get college credit and experience that may help them land a job after college, he said.
“We’re underground edge music,” Kirkley said, adding that he has not played his own music on the station, but that the station will have a show dedicated to local performers in the future.
Ellis studies business management at UNC Charlotte. She does independent research on the music industry to learn more. Her coursework and research has already helped the band, she said. Ellis taught the band to how to copyright its music so it can’t be stolen. They credit her with helping turn the band into a profitable small business.
“We get royalty checks and that’s thanks to Jocelyn,” Alpha Theory guitarist Jeff Taylor said.
Photo courtesy of Chris Myers.