Volunteer Spotlight: Sharon Johnson Caskey
Volunteers rock at The Church Studio! We love and appreciate the valuable role they play in our operations. Sharon Johnson Caskey is one of our talented volunteers. She not has a knack for arranging flowers and choosing trees for Magnolia Meadows, but she’s wonderful in our retail store, serving clients and giving tours. Learn more about Sharon below and you’ll see why she is so amazing to have on the team.
SHARON JOHNSON CASKEY
Oklahoma has everything I love! I was born and raised in Durant, OK. Growing up, we visited my Aunt Joycie in Tulsa and I dreamed of which two-story apartment I would live in and how Tulsa would be my home someday. It was a thrill to wander around in her Maple Ridge neighborhood and daydream. Sure enough, I made Tulsa my home in 2004. My family and I lived in The Woodlands, Texas, and Ardmore, Oklahoma after leaving Durant, but Oklahoma has always been home. Here is some information about me: Mom of three – Allison, Tyler, and Travis. Four grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; one godson and the most amazing chosen family members/friends!
Most of my career was in oil and gas. The company I worked for was moving to Houston and it seemed like the perfect time for me to retire. Retirement is a blast!! Get out and find something that you enjoy and just do it!! Make a difference in something you like to do!
Music is a huge part of who I am as I enjoy all kinds of music – mostly rock. Live music still excites me! Concerts are one of my favorite things to do but I also enjoy dogs, the beach, traveling, working in my yard, reading, and hanging out with my dog, Henley Cleo (named for Don Henley and my dad), family and friends. My parents played country and western music exclusively but I shook things up with the Beatles, Elvis, the Rolling Stones, The Hollies, Three Dog Night and more since I was born with a rock & roll heart! A record player in my bedroom entertained me so many countless hours. Music was my friend and the words to every Bread song seemed to parallel my life. Ironically the words to so many songs still tell the story of my life.
Why do you volunteer?
Choosing a place that matches my interests makes volunteering fun. It started with being a docent and has grown to arranging flowers, planting flowers, and landscaping at The Church Studio and at Harwelden, security, clean up, or whatever is needed. I enjoy people and The Church Studio has the best employees, volunteers, and guests. It is nice to continue to learn new things and The Church Studio is a great place for surprises!
What inspired you to choose The Church Studio?
I met Teresa Knox when the Tulsa Foundation of Architecture toured The Church Studio in early 2022 and realized that I wanted to join her crusade for having music in Tulsa continue to grow. She has such a deep passion for every detail of music history and its future. After starting to volunteer as a docent, I came in early one Saturday and was visiting with her about the landscaping. It was beautiful but all green and brown. She asked for my ideas and then we decided to add more color to the landscaping. That was when I moved outdoors and started doing landscaping. Getting to share some of my own plants and getting to select more plants and plant them at The Church Studio gave me instant gratification! The spots of color were noticed and I feel the exterior is a warm welcome to what is inside The Church Studio. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and the bulbs I planted will come up in the Spring in time for Carney Fest 2023!
Next, I met Amber Acosta, and she asked me to help with arranging flowers at Harwelden Mansion, right then! Sure, I can handle that. It turned out lovely and I truly enjoyed arranging flowers for Harwelden and for the shows at The Church Studio. Harwelden is an absolutely beautiful mansion/bed & breakfast, but things that make it stand out are things like fresh flowers everywhere, the special teas, and the warm hospitality. The Mansion-life means that there are never too many perks.
From there came Magnolia Meadows honoring the late, great JJ Cale. I was thrilled to be able to personally choose each tree that was planted, because I know that they will live on long after I am gone. It feels like I am leaving a little footprint on something far bigger than myself to honor the timeless music of JJ Cale. Once more, I was able to play a small role in helping Teresa realize her inspiring goal. It is with a huge sense of pride that JJ Cale is being honored with a tribute to his song, “Magnolia” with an abundance of trees, 12 of them being Magnolias! I think he would approve of Teresa’s decision to name the place “Magnolia Meadows”. JJ Cale lived in one of the houses in the area that is now Magnolia Meadows. The house has been torn down, but his DNA is there somewhere. Even a shy man who did not like to draw attention to himself would think that this is a cool thing to do.
What surprised you the most about The Church Studio?
The archives! There is a variety of music history, sheet music, photos, and one-of-a-kind items that give flashbacks in time! On Dan Fogelberg’s birthday, Teresa gave me the keys and asked me to go into the locked drawers and choose a special picture for a post to honor him. Having his Yamaha C-7 grand piano in the recording studio is amazing, but the things I saw inside the drawers took my breath away! Going through those locked drawers was like going to heaven for a 30-to-45-minute visit. There are over 5,000 archive items and a great variety of artists and music types. Yes, I found a perfect photo of Dan Fogelberg but continued to marvel at the things that are in the archives.
What is your favorite part of the studio?
The people and number one on that list is Teresa. This beautiful building is a world-class recording studio with the best equipment anywhere, audio engineering school, museum and can be used for concerts, weddings, parties, and meetings! There is a magical feeling inside The Church Studio. Without Teresa’s dream and determination, none of us would get to play a part in this magnificent place. The Church Studio has maintained the church spirit along with the amazing music that was played and recorded there. It has such a magical aura.
What would you say to someone considering visiting The Church Studio?
You’re going to get so much bang for your buck! A guided docent tour of a hallowed, historic building that is over 100 years old. It is a world-class recording studio where so many greats have played, as well as many upcoming artists and bands. The Church Studio is to Tulsa what the Ryman Auditorium is to Nashville. Hearing music in the sanctuary/studio will make the hair stand up on your arms!! Tears may sneak out of your eyes listening to the purest forms of music! Air Supply’s acoustic concert recorded at The Church Studio was outstanding!! So was Taj Mahal’s concert and meeting Trey Hensley and Rob Ickes. Recordings continue to be scheduled more and more. Word continues to spread about The Church Studio and its ability to create that coveted sound. Since this news spreads by word of mouth, I see The Church Studio getting busier as time goes by. Allow plenty of time to enjoy the tour, but stick around at the end and look at the archives. I love that new items are being added to and rotated through the archives all the time.