TULSA, OK (CelebrityAccess) – Chouteau High School Teacher of the Year, Cathy Welker-Graham, got a surprise visitor and impromptu concert, thanks to one of her students.
The badass singer/songwriter of country, rock and blues, Tanner Elle Schneider, better known as Elle King, had no desire to stay in school longer than she had to – so she could focus full-time on her music career. But when she read a letter sent to her from Chouteau High School Senior, Emma Hughes, praising her teacher, Welker-Graham, who is an avid Elle King fan, she knew it was time to go back to the schoolhouse.
Before her show in Tulsa on Friday (March 24), King and her guitarist surprised Hughes, who sent the message, her favorite teacher and the entire student body – when they marched through the school into her classroom, where King praised Welker-Graham calling her “America’s Sweetheart” before performing the hit song with that title to a room full of awe-struck students, faculty and administrators.
“I didn’t always have the greatest experience in school,” laughed King. “But every few schools, I would find a teacher who believed in me, and it gave me confidence, and they told me that I could do something great with my life even if I was different. So I think that great teachers should be celebrated. It was important to me that we show this deserving teacher some well-earned gratitude.”
Chouteau High School Principal Clint Hall, who helped coordinate the surprise, said, “As educators, this is why we do what we do. We are here to make positive impacts on our students. It took a lot for me to keep a lid on this. Mrs. Welker-Graham is a rockstar teacher, and Emma is a great kid! It could not have come together for two better people. This was priceless! Tears of joy from a lot of people today!”
Following her school day, King traveled to The Church Studio, where she and her band recorded a new song. The legendary Church Studio was built as a church in 1915. It was purchased in 1972 by music pioneer Leon Russell, who converted it into a recording studio cited as the heart of the “Tulsa Sound.”
King’s sold-out show at Cain’s Ballroom, which included honored guests Welker-Graham, Hughes and Hall from Chouteau High School, showcased her multi-genre hits plus songs from her new album Come Get Your Wife. One of those songs was the rowdy breakup tune “Tulsa.” While Tulsa has been named checked in many country songs, this is the first time it’s recognized for its spelling in reverse. You can hear the music and view the lyrics below.
King may left a lasting impression on those in attendance at the high school that day – and it appears the feeling is mutual. She took to her Instagram after the visit saying, “Sometimes the right thing to do is always the kind thing to do. You never forget how somebody makes you feel. This one was mutual.”
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