Elle King Surprises Beloved Teacher Ahead of Tour Stop in Tulsa
Elle King couldn’t wait to graduate high school so she could focus full-time on her music career. But when she read a letter recently from Chouteau High School senior student, Emma Hughes, praising her teacher, Cathy Welker-Graham, who is an avid Elle King fan and Chouteau High’s teacher of the year, she knew it was time to revisit the classroom.
Before her show in Tulsa on Friday, King and her guitarist completely surprised the student who sent the email, 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 students, faculty and administrators. See a clip from the visit HERE.
“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 to 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 and was purchased in 1972 by music pioneer Leon Russell, who converted it into a world-renowned recording studio that is cited as being the heart of the “Tulsa Sound.”
King’s sold-out show at Cain’s Ballroom, that 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 is the “rousing and bodacious breakup tune,” “Tulsa” (Whiskey Riff). While Tulsa has been named checked in many country songs, this is the first time it’s recognized for its spelling in reverse.
Sold out shows have prevailed the entire tour, which include her recent stop in Chicago where the Chicago Sun-Times said the “Show gives room to breathe for every part of the singer’s musical makeup, from gospel to folk to soul to bluegrass.” With only a few shows left in her A-FREAKIN’-MEN Tour, Presented By Slow & Low, The Pitch in Kansas City sums it up succinctly. “A singer-songwriter with nothing to hide and plenty to say, she’s one bonafide, badass bitch who’s here to stay, especially amongst the brightest stars in country. So, here’s to another shot of bourbon and another ice-cold beer, because I’m drunk, and I don’t want to go home.”
Photo Credit: Corey Bost