THE ULTIMATE ELVIS TRIBUTE

by LIZA MITCHELL
Elvis Presley is known the world over as the man whose signature pout, velvety voice and dreamy hip shaking launched a rock ‘n roll revolution. In the decades since he left the building, artists and fans alike continue to celebrate the legacy of the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Two world champion Ultimate Elvis Tribute artists, Shawn Klush and Cody Ray Slaughter, will be taking care of business as the headliners of the Ultimate Elvis Musical Spectacular in honor of the fallen King.
Klush, the first-ever Ultimate Elvis, and Slaughter, the youngest to ever win the title, will perform favorite Presley hits at 7 pm, June 22 at the Morocco Shrine Center. Doors open at 6 pm. Tickets start at $25, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Safe Animal Shelter in Middleburg.
The Sweet Inspirations, original back-up singers for Elvis, will also perform accompanied by the Ambassadors Band followed by a meet-n-greet after the show for autographs and photographs with the Elvis stars.
Both Klush and Slaughter travel the world performing as the King. Known as the world’s top professional Elvis tribute artist, Klush won the top $5,000 prize in the Worldwide Elvis Competition in Montreal. Slaughter completed a two-year run with the Broadway musical, Million Dollar Quartet, in the role of Elvis. Klush specializes in the concert years of Elvis’s life while Slaughter personifies Elvis in the early years of the 50s and 60s. “Shawn and I are good buddies. He has done it all, and he is really talented,” Slaughter says of his Elvis counterpart. “Even before I was a part of it, I always knew this was the greatest Elvis show. There is no other show like it.”
Slaughter, who is 21, began performing publicly when he was only 12, although he first took the stage as Elvis at a second grade talent show. His father was a huge Elvis fan and shared his love of music with his impressionable young son. “Nobody looks like Elvis. Nobody sounds like him. There are other artists that you can say sound like so and so, but there’s only one Elvis,” Slaughter says. “I just thought that was really cool. I guess I never stopped thinking it.”
As he launched his own career as a bonafide Elvis impersonator, Slaughter was captivated by the sheer star power that the name Elvis Presley still commands. The phenomenon is universal, and no matter where you are people respond to the man and the music. “You can say Elvis anywhere in the world, and everyone is going to know exactly who you are talking about,” he says.
Slaughter has made a name for himself performing as young Elvis at such venues as Tony Roi’s Elvis Experience, Legends In Concerts and the 1950s Theater. He was the featured entertainer at the Tennessee Shindig in Pigeon Forge, TN when he was just 17. He has appeared on MTV and The Late Show with David Letterman and performed at the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. And in 2011, he was named the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist by Elvis Presley Enterprises during Elvis Tribute Week in Memphis, TN.
To be named an Ultimate Elvis, contestants compete each August in Memphis during Elvis Week. They come from all over the world, including Australia, Japan, Canada, and last year’s winner was from Great Britain. The annual contest is sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises.
“I’ve got to travel and see and meet so many people and experience things that I would never have gotten to do,” he says, including spending time with Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley and visiting Elvis’ home, Graceland, which is the Mecca for all Elvis fans. “My greatest joy is when I am paying tribute to Elvis and his music and trying to keep his spirit alive with his fans.”

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