With increases in vaccinations, the end of the pandemic is in sight... and in-person graduations are back! What a joyous way to end the spring after a rough year. And at T. Wingate Andrews High School, that experience was even more unforgettable thanks to principal Marcus Gause who serenaded the graduating class with a very personal rendition of "I Will Always Love You." A cappella no less!
The Special Serenade
The students at T. Wingate Andrews High School in High Point, North Carolina always knew they had a special principal. But even they didn't expect Mr. Gause to be belting it out on graduation day! With no musical accompaniment, Gause commanded the entire auditorium on the strength of his voice alone. A performance to rival Whitney herself.
Perhaps because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the video of this high school graduation is especially emotional! To watch this educator, in a cap and gown, so vulnerably address his students in person feels like such a rare and deserved treat. There's no doubt he means every word of the poignant lyrics. Now is it any surprise this glorious sendoff is trending on social media?
High School Principal Marcus Gause
Last week the work of this caring North Carolina principal was highlighted on ABC News. Speaking with David Muir, Gause admitted he was nervous. "There's a nervousness because no one sings behind Whitney Houston and the greats like Dolly Parton but the lyrics were really what I was trying to portray to my students... one of the things the pandemic really has taught us is that we need more love, that students know that we love and care for them."
I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you've dreamed of
And I'm wishing you joy and happiness
But above all this, I wish you love
As student, Mekhi Mcrae points out: "Mr. Gause singing to us is is something I'll never forget. He is a big part of why I am who I am today."
"I Will Always Love You"
Dolly Parton's hit song "I Will Always Love You" has a long and uniquely cross-genre history. The country star originally released the single in 1974 as an official farewell to her former business partner Porter Wagoner. After the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, the aging Elvis Presley asked to do his own cover.
But when Elvis' manager, the infamous Colonel, told Parton that she'd need to sign over half of the publishing rights she turned him down cold. "Other people were saying, 'You're nuts. It's Elvis Presley. I mean, hell, I'd give him all of it.' I said, 'I can't do that.' Something in my heart says, 'Don't do that.' And I just didn't do it," she told CMT in 2006.
Of course, Parton is a businesswoman. And she made the right call. In 1992, she allowed for the talented Whitney Houston to record a new arrangement for the soundtrack of her film debut, The Bodyguard. And the rest is musical history. As Parton put it, reflecting on her rejection of Elvis: "When Whitney [Houston's version] came out, I made enough money to buy Graceland."
As you can see in the viral video of Marcus Gause, the high school principal clearly took his inspiration from Houston's version of the song. And he killed it. The performance, which served as a wrap on the Guilford County school year, also adds to the evolving, beautiful tradition of Parton's ballad.