2018: Year in Review

The Church Studio - 2018 Year In Review - January Newsletter-1

Jan 2019 Newsletter

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Dear Friends,

2018 has been a year of growth, community and resilience for our organization. Our team has been busy with multiple projects, including the renovation of the historic Harwelden Mansion and the construction in Studio Row, which have all been equally demanding and challenging, yet extraordinarily worthwhile. Throughout the year, one thing became evident: we could not have done this without your outpouring support. Thank you for following our social media, purchasing merchandise, donating and attending our community events. Most importantly, thank you for embarking on this journey with us! Because of YOU, our network is growing and what started as a vision is now becoming a reality.

We hope you enjoy looking back at our most busy year yet! See you in 2019!



The Church Studio Team updates


The Church studio has many facets. Not only are we a protected property listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but when we open our doors we’ll be a recording studio–both analog and digital–for national and local artists alike. Furthermore, you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy The Church Studio Archive, a rare collection of over 4,000 memorabilia and artifacts that will find a permanent home at The Church Studio; celebrating the history of the church, the Tulsa Sound, and Leon Russell. The historic studio will also be available as a community venue and be open to the public for memberships, tours, volunteer opportunities, and scheduled events.


The Church Studio Music Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and all donations are tax-deductible. The mission of The Church Studio Music Foundation
The mission of The Church Studio Music Foundation is to support the understanding, appreciation, and advancement of music

Objectives of Mission

  • Propel Legacy of Leon Russell
  • Establish the studio as a legacy landmark
  • Collect, arrange, preserve, and make accessible the permanent items of The Church Studio Archive as well as rare and unique collections that support the foundation’s mission
  • Engage the general community through music programs, education, video, film, recording, and activities
  • Showcase the brotherhood, diversity, and evolution of “The Tulsa Sound.”

Because of your generous support, The Church Studio Foundation raised $35,156 through online donations and merchandise sales. Community Donations – $2, 886

Employee Donations –  $15, 821
Merchandise Sales –     $16, 500


Thank you! StudioRow


Studio Row, with The Church Studio as its epicenter, is committed to honoring Leon Russell’s legacy by inspiring beautiful music in a studio setting and promoting a culture that is propelled by music, art, and community collaboration. As of December 2018, we are a couple of steps closer to this reality.

Adorn Tulsa and The Coffee Blues have officially opened their doors and will soon be followed by Mango’s Cuban Café, Hummingbird Fine Craft and Swamp House, among others. The neighborhood will also feature Duets BnB. This 2 suite boutique Bed and Breakfast sits above a music-inspired coffee shop/bar and is available to rent per day for locals and tourists alike. Guests will step back in time in the 1913 structure and enjoy a cozy decor influenced by the Tulsa Sound and The Church Studio. Luxury bath products and linens will delight visitors and breakfast, at The Coffee Blues, is included with room rates.


Part of our foundation’s mission is to showcase the brotherhood, diversity, and evolution of “The Tulsa Sound.” People often say that The Tulsa Sound was not a specific sound but a community and what a better way to honor that spirit than to collaborate with Tulsa’s music, business and education communities.

Read below about some of our memorable collaborations!

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The Church Studio was a proud sponsor of Leon’s Birthday Celebration in April at Cain’s Ballroom.


The Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Art and Culture launched their Creativity Database in 2018. The data base serves as an online resource that highlights Tulsa’s creative industries. Businesses and Artists are encouraged to sign up for a free account. The Church Studio is proud to be a sponsor of this innovative project!


This year we had the opportunity to represent Tulsa in the 2018 Americana Festival and Conference by moderating a panel titled “The Church Studio: Shelter for the Tulsa Sound.” The panel featured Scott Hutchison, Jeff Moore, Jim Halsey and Teresa Knox. Musical guests featured Kyle Dillingham and Duane Allen of The Oak Ridge Boys.


After a devastating fire broke out in the home of beloved musician, Jimmy Markham, the Church Studio started a “Go Fund Me” page and raised nearly $20,000 that went directly to Jimmy. Furthermore, the music community joined together to form a benefit concert to raise money to help ease the hardship of the tragedy. The “Save Jimmy” benefit concert was organized by Larry Shaeffer, Frank Padilla, Teresa Knox, and Paul Benjaman. The Cain’s Ballroom lineup featured Gary Busey, Ann Bell, David Teegarden, Jamie Oldaker, among others and raised another $12,000. Sadly, the world lost Jimmy to lung cancer in September.


The Church Studio was a proud sponsor of Clary Runway this past September. The event showcases the work of students and alumni of Clary Sage College. Thanks to the generous support of our community, the event raised raised over $120,000 which will go toward Community College, Clary Sage College and Oklahoma Technical College educational scholarships benefiting those Oklahomans that need it the most.


In partnership with Circle Cinema and Magic City Books, Gary Busey returned to his hometown for a special book signing of his new book, Buseyisms, and a screening of his heart-racing film Point Break. Over 200 fans attended the event and enjoyed an evening with their favorite actor.


Organized by a committee chaired by Steve and Kathy Todoroff, on November 10, Tulsans and Leon Lifers alike joined together at Memorial Park Cemetery for the unveiling and dedication of the Leon Russell monument. The community joined forces to celebrate Leon Russell with special activities around town. The campaign raised more than $44,000 to pay for the stunning granite monument. In case you missed it, you can find the live stream on our Facebook page!


Graduate students of the University of Tulsa used The Church Studio this past semester to acquire real-world experience while helping us develop education programming for our grand opening. We were blown away by their hard work and knowledge of the subject! They made sure to include everyone in the community and even include some surprises for all the Leon Lifers out there!

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The Church Studio was proud to present as guest speakers in 2018 at the following:

• Association for Women in Communication
• Commerce Bank Advisory Board
• Community HigherEd Leadership Team
• Jenks Beauty College
• Rotary of Tulsa


The Church Studio has commissioned the Tulsa Glassblowing School to make an entry chandelier for the studio grand entry. We can’t wait to reveal the design!


A few more events The Church Studio sponsored:

• Taste of Tulsa Benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters
• John Mellencamp Exhibit at Woody Guthrie Center thefuture LR-TributeLogo4(Abstract) (10)


In partnership with the Will Rogers High School Community Foundation, The Church Studio presents the Leon Russell Piano Dedication and Tribute Concert February 9, 2019 at the Will Rogers Auditorium. Click here to purchase your ticket: https://leonrussell.yapsody.com/

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Our sister property, the historic Harwelden Mansion, is home to the 46th Annual Tulsa Designer Showcase benefiting the Foundation for Tulsa Schools. The event runs March through May and The Church Studio will be a supporter.

“It is a privilege to be able to make a difference in education through the Foundation for Tulsa Schools while honoring the legacy of Earl and Mary Harwell. Collaborating and engaging with the Foundation and the creative capabilities of Tulsa’s interior design talent pool makes this the perfect opportunity to celebrate the architecturally stunning Harwelden Mansion.” -Teresa Knox



The Church Studio is excited to be a financial sponsor at the annual South By Southwest Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas. For the third year, Tulsa has its own Music Showcase at SXSW. The event is made possible by Ray Hoyt and Abby Kurin with the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Art & Culture.

rip thank you

Teresa Knox

Teresa Knox

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