He accepted the "best country album” prize from Ringo Starr — and got in the line of the night by jokingly asking often-cocky rapper Kanye West if he had gotten an award from one of the Beatles. "It was amazing. ... I wouldn't have said anything, had I not started walking up those stairs and going, ‘That's Ringo Starr that's about to give me a Grammy.' And it really, it kind of bowled me over,” Gill said. The grade school auditorium seats about 220 people, making it an intimate venue for the show. "What you kind of yearn for as a performer, I think, more than anything is that connection, that intimacy that happens when you're in a smaller place,” said Gill, who will have his family in the audience. "This'll be fun. It's just going to be me and a guitar and a piano player.” The goal is to raise all the money to refurbish the auditorium in one day, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the project. With tickets running $495, the show has raised more than $80,000, said Oklahoma Today Publisher Joan Henderson. Only a few tickets remained on sale Wednesday. Cleveland Principal Mary Coughlin said the auditorium needs a new sound system, curtains and lighting. The estimated cost for the project is $75,000 to $100,000, and raising it in one day is an unusual feat. "It's a great lesson for our kids in giving back ... and remembering from where you came,” Coughlin said. "The kids are excited; that's the best part.” Gill is quick to pass along the credit for the benefit's success. "Granted, I possess something that allows people to come and pay money and see what it is, but ... it's a few hundred other people that are gonna spend their hard-earned money to come and spend the night there. They're the ones who are doing it, not me,” he said.
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Mary Coughlin, principal of Cleveland Elementary Arts and Science Specialty School, hopes the money to improve the auditorium can be raised in one day. BY JACONNA AGUIRRE, THE OKLAHOMAN
‘Vince Gill: Back in Class'•When: 7 p.m. today. •Where: Cleveland Elementary Arts and Science Specialty School, 2725 NW 23. •Tickets: $495. •Beneficiary: All proceeds go to renovate the school's auditorium. •Information: Call 230-8450.