Auburn grad Loveland talks Sweetland

Published 6:50 pm Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Daily News’ weekly Neighbors series features one person from LaGrange and the surrounding area.

This week we spoke with Sweetland Amphitheatre Director Keyal Loveland, who is preparing to release the amphitheater’s summer lineup later this month.

LaGrange Daily News: Where are you from originally?

Loveland: I was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Dothan, Alabama. Dothan, is primarily known for peanuts, and its peanuts festivals. Upon graduating high school, I moved to Auburn and graduated from Auburn (University) with a dual degree in communication and psychology.

LDN: How did those early experiences around peanut festivals and at Auburn impact what you do at Sweetland?

Loveland: I would say less of how I grew up, and more of how I got involved in the music industry while I was in Auburn. While in Auburn, I volunteered my time at several festivals, mostly located at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida, and there are several festivals that come through there. I gained a lot of experience in production, volunteering, hospitality, VIP catering and just the music industry business side of things in general. That was while I was in college.

Right out of college I got a temp job in Brooklyn, New York, working PR, doing everything from social media management to tour management to even singing backup for one of the bands that I was on tour with. So, I gained a lot of experience on ground level music business — how it all works — so New York really pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It was a great experience overall, and I believe it was that experience that got me my first real job in the music industry at Iron City in Birmingham.

Out of Iron City, I accepted a job as a social media manager there and was promoted five times during my time there and worked everything from social media to marketing to box office in ticket sales to front of house management, artist contracts, booking. I created events and saw them through just to make sure that the venue remains profitable. It was a great experience. My time at Iron City was like going to graduate school in the music industry.

LDN: What do you most enjoy about working in LaGrange?

Loveland: I believe it is the sense of community in LaGrange. LaGrange is growing, and it is a time for an enormous amount of growth and potential in everything from the music industry to downtown development to tourism with the addition of the hotel and Great Wolf Lodge and Wild Leap Brew Co. and the new brewery coming to Hillside. Everything is just culminating right now, and it is a great place to be part of the community. It is a feel-good atmosphere. Everybody is so passionate about LaGrange and speaking to people who have lived their whole lives here. Seeing the amount of growth right now is so exciting and rewarding to be part of that.

LDN: Is there anything that you would like to see come to LaGrange with this growth?

Loveland: With Sweetland, I would like to see more concerts, so I think in order for Sweetland to become self-sustaining, we have to have more concerts. We will be seeing more of those. I think we will see soon more retail businesses in downtown as well as residential living in downtown. We feel like that is a huge part of making downtown successful. Otherwise, I think everything is where we need to be.

LDN: Where is the most beautiful place in LaGrange?

Loveland: For me personally, the most beautiful piece of LaGrange and what I see most often is the downtown footprint from Wild Leap, all the way up to Sweetland. I would say it is a beautiful and successful part of this city that I enjoy being part of.

LDN: What do you enjoy doing with your free time?

Loveland: What free time? (laughs) When I do have free time, my husband and I really enjoy hiking, biking, backpacking. I just started making beeswax products. My husband has a skateboard shop, so (I) dabble in skateboarding — not so much these days.

LDN: Are you excited about the new skate plaza coming to downtown?

Loveland: We are. We are very excited about the new skate plaza, and I spoke to a few business owners who are also equally excited for downtown, so I think we will see the addition of some skate supplies being offered. That will be a great addition to the skate park and an extension of all the great events that Wild Leap has going on.

LDN: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Loveland: I am excited and honored to be in this position as director. I see great things happening for Sweetland and LaGrange. It’s going to be a great year as far as the acts that we have coming through, and the events that we have planned on a community level. I can’t wait to share the lineup with everyone.

‘Neighbors’ is a weekly series by the Daily News that highlights community members. To nominate a person to be featured, call (706) 884-7311.