The Charger Blog

Alumna is First Female Chief Engineer Ever in Nashville Music Scene

As chief engineer for a leading recording studio in the Music City, Skyler Chuckry ’18 has found a career and a community that she loves. It was her time in the University’s Study Away Program and the connections she made that introduced her to the city she now calls home and led her to become a leader in what remains a male-dominated field.

February 28, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Skyler Chuckry ’18 (left, front) and her colleagues at Sound Emporium
Skyler Chuckry ’18 (left, front) and her colleagues at Sound Emporium.

Skyler Chuckry ’18 has fond memories of dancing with her mom to “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac for hours before she was even old enough to attend school. It was only the beginning of her love of music – something that would, one day, become the focus of her career.

As she got older, Chuckry began to perform music as well. She took up the clarinet when she was in the fourth grade, going on to become an All-County musician for eight years in a row as well as a regional All-State musician for two years in her home state of New York. Though she enjoyed performing and she was good at it, she knew she didn’t want it to become her career. Instead, she wanted to focus on other aspects of the music industry.

Chuckry continued to enjoy listening to music, buying CDs and dissecting the liner notes with her friends. As she paid close attention to who produced, engineered, and wrote the songs on her favorite albums, she began to envision the path she wanted to follow in her own career.

“I loved how even though their names or faces might not be on the cover, there were so many people involved who helped make the perfect album, regardless of notoriety,” she explains. “I decided that while I didn’t want to perform, I wanted to help others make their own music, just like those faceless names I came to admire.”

‘A once in a lifetime opportunity’

As she began to research undergraduate programs, she knew she wanted to focus on audio engineering while continuing to enjoy performing as a hobby. The University of New Haven’s music and sound recording program seemed to be a perfect fit.

As a Charger, Chuckry continued to perform in concert band and to learn new instruments. She also dedicated hours each week to the studio, where she learned about making records. While she appreciated the University’s proximity to New York and its studios, she says it was the opportunities she had in another city – Nashville, also known as Music City – that were unlike any she could have anywhere else.

Chuckry took part in the University’s Study Away program, a unique and hands-on program that enables music students to spend a semester living and learning in Nashville. Chuckry and her classmates learned and networked at professional studios, taking classes at the prestigious Blackbird Studio with which the University collaborates to offer the Study Away program. The experience prepares students such as Chuckry to handle situations and work with equipment and clients they’ll experience in the real-world. They learn from industry professionals, and through doing.

“To be immersed in such a creative city is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Chuckry. “The Study Away Program gives students the opportunity to live and work within a community where you don’t just leave after your shift to go back to campus. Every part of your life becomes a part of the experience. Your friends became valuable resources. I gained amazing experience from hands-on learning within real professional studios.”

Skyler Chuckry ’18 and her best friends from the University on campus.
Skyler Chuckry ’18 and her best friends from the University on campus.
‘The very first female chief engineer ever in Nashville’

For Chuckry, spending a semester in Nashville was truly immersive. She had the opportunity to get to experience and know Music City. She was also a part of the recording process for real-world clients – artists – and she made important connections throughout the semester.

It was the connections she made while completing an internship at Blackbird Studio that led to an exciting career opportunity at Sound Emporium Studios, the oldest commercial recording studio in the city. One of her managers at Blackbird recommended her for the position, and she began her career working at the front desk.

While answering the phone and helping book the studios, she continued to network and build relationships with everyone she met, from clients to managers. She worked her way up – all the way to her current position as chief sound engineer. It’s been an exciting opportunity for Chuckry – and for the industry as a whole.

“I’m the very first female chief engineer ever in Nashville,” said Chuckry. “It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly. The music industry can be tough for women, especially in the predominantly male-driven technical side of it. My favorite part of my job is seeing clients leave completely satisfied and excited about their projects that I helped create.”

‘Hope and a helping hand’

During her time in Music City, Chuckry has worked on projects for myriad artists, including Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and Cage the Elephant. She oversees the technical aspects of the studio, helping to make important decisions regarding what new gear the studio should purchase and helping with technical upkeep. She’s also the lead engineer on several sessions each week.

Chuckry continues to learn and to feel like she is part of a community in Nashville, something that’s been critical both in and out of the studio. When her apartment burned down last fall, she received support from other music industry professionals – even those she hasn’t met. She says it speaks volumes of the community that is Nashville, a community that students are “lucky to be a part of.”

Supportive of the students following in her footsteps, Chuckry remains connected to her alma mater, recently speaking with incoming Chargers as part of an orientation program. She was excited to connect with them, to share her experience, and to offer advice from someone who has been in their position.

“My time at the University really helped shape me into who I am today and helped mold me into someone who is independent and hard working,” she said. “These are very important values in the music field and in the world today. Also, being a woman in this industry is tough, so I always hope if there is a girl sitting in orientation with similar dreams as mine, I can offer a little bit of hope and a helping hand.”