Spirit of Alabama: Teacher performs inside and outside the classroom
Tab Cooley says she’s just a girl from Brookwood, but when you get to know her, you quickly see that she’s a rising star who is starting to get noticed on the music scene.
By day, Cooley performs for the students in her first grade classroom at Brookwood Elementary School, reading to them with enthusiasm.
By night, she dials her performance way up on stage as the titular member of Tab & The Mojo.
She said it was easy to sing for her family growing up, with a hairbrush for a microphone. When she first stepped into the stage lights, however, nerves kicked in.
“When I started singing with a band, I got nervous and I’d jsut stand there and hold the microphone. I just stood there and I smiled,” Cooley said.
It wasn’t too long before the natural performer felt comfortable on stage, introducing herself with confidence and dancing a few steps as she played her guitar.
“Now I say I don’t remember the last time I was nervous because it’s just natural. But I did have to develop the confidence (saying) ‘Hey, it’s OK if you mess up a word, you don’t hit the right chord, they’re happy you’re here and they love the music,'” she said.
Now in her second year as a teacher, she is as dedicated to her students as she is her music. Teaching has its own challenges, but Cooley knows the key and plays to it in the classroom as she does on stage.
“The most important thing is that these kids are comfortable, that they feel loved and encouraged and supported, and that they can be and do anything they want to do. Once you establish that and they feel that love and comfort, then they can do anything,” she explained.
Steve Wallace, Ricky Burch and David Taylor stand behind her on stage. With these “Dudes,” as she calls them, Tab & The Mojo often perform three times per weekend.
For now, Cooley performs inside and outside the classroom.
“If that’s what I’m supposed to do, I’m gonna be the best teacher that I can possibly be. If music is what I’m supposed to do, I’m gonna be the best musician that I can possibly be and I’ll sign the bottom line,” she said.
Cooley is still getting used to her newfound celebrity. Sometimes she feels surprised when people ask for her autograph, but their compliments on her original songs inspire her to keep going.
“I’m just a girl from Brookwood. That’s what I always say, I’m just a girl from Brookwood,” she said with a laugh.
Do you have a story idea for Spirit of Alabama? You can submit them at firstname.lastname@example.org