Q&A: 2015 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist David Lee

Dreams came true for David Lee on August 13, 2015, when he was named the 2015 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, and a big Elvis fan, David advanced to the Semifinal and Final Rounds during Elvis Week after winning the Ocean City Elvis Festival’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Preliminary Round. David won the title of 2015 Ultimate ETA, a contract to perform for Legends in Concert, the 2015 Ultimate ETA Contest belt designed by B&K Enterprises, and a cash prize of $20,000. Let’s get to know David Lee better. Q: When and how did you become a fan of Elvis Presley? A: Of course, like most people, I heard Elvis at a young age, and knew something about him was different. But I became a die-hard Elvis fan thanks to a guy named Kevin Muir, who I worked with in my early 20s. He introduced me to the more obscure songs and I was hooked instantly! I now have a huge Elvis collection – well over 10,000 pieces. I even have over 1,000 Elvis 8-track tapes! Q: How did you become an Elvis Tribute Artist? A: Simply put, my love of everything Elvis was so strong that I had to have an outlet to express that. It was the early ’90s and karaoke was really becoming very popular, so I would go and sing at local establishments. The first time I can remember actually dressing the part was when a coworker was leaving the company we worked for, so myself and another friend actually bought a cheap Elvis costume and performed in front of about 100 people at his going-away party. I must have had half of those 100 come up to me and say, ‘Wow, you sound like Elvis,’ ‘Can you come and sing for daughter’s birthday?’ and so forth and so on. I knew that day that things were going to change. I just had no idea how much and that there was an Elvis world out there! Q: What are some of the highlights of your ETA career thus far (besides being named the 2015 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist)? A: Wow. Great question. This is my 20th year as an ETA and I have had a lot of great things happen to me. I have been fortunate enough to win the biggest competitions in the world. In 2004, I was and still am the only person to win the International...
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Elvis Week Instagram Challenge

Just before Elvis Week, we issued a challenge to Elvis fans: Share your Elvis Week experience on Instagram. We asked fans to snap photos while they’re at Elvis Week at Graceland, tag Graceland and post those pictures to Instagram. And, as always, Elvis fans answered the challenge. There were hundreds of photos tagged #ElvisWeek, #Graceland and more, and here are just a very few of our favorites. TYTYVM for answering the challenge, Elvis fans, and remember to follow Graceland on Instagram at @VisitGraceland!   TYTYVM to all of the Elvis fans who took amazing Instagram pictures at Elvis Week! Be sure to check out the Elvis Week photo gallery at Graceland.com for even more photos from the...
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Candlelight Vigil

By Alyssa Long The Candlelight Vigil is completely different from all other Elvis Week events. While other things during the week are high energy, loud and entertaining (all in very good way), the Candlelight Vigil is a time during the festival when everyone can gather together and pay their respects to Elvis Presley. This year, an estimated 30,000 people arrived at the Graceland gates to stand together in remembering Elvis. The evening started with Lisa Marie, Elvis’ daughter, lighting candles for fans. This gesture meant so much to everyone in attendance. It doesn’t happen every year, but the impact was incredibly touching. After a few words are spoken and a few songs are played, the procession to the Meditation Garden begins with the Elvis Presley Fan Clubs. These fan club members come from all over the world and are made up of fans of all different ages. Throughout the night, they’ll line part of the driveway with candles in hand to welcome all other fans in attendance.   The procession continues up the driveway and it’s a beautiful thing to see. From a distance, it’s incredibly picturesque with the whole Graceland area all lit up and hundreds of candles dotting the drive. To actually walk up the driveway and then through the Meditation Garden surrounded by other fans all in quiet remembrance is unlike anything else. The love and passion for Elvis Presley and all he did is contagious and can truly be felt at the Candlelight Vigil.   Back on Elvis Presley Boulevard, a normally very busy road, cars are not permitted and fans make shrines to commemorate Elvis. They use candles and pictures, they build structures and draw art on the pavement. They all gather together, share stories, share memories and bond over their love for Elvis Presley and his music.   Elvis is more than the jumpsuits, more than the pink Cadillacs, more than the sideburns. He is special to so many people and fans will continue remembering Elvis each year at this special event–his memory and legacy will live...
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Viva Las Vegas

By Alyssa Long Elvis fans are very unique in that they like to soak up every detail and learn as much as they can about Elvis Presley. This week, I’ve talked at length about Elvis and his time in Memphis. Well, there was another city that made a big impact on Elvis and where he can still be found today… Las Vegas. Last night, there was an Elvis in Vegas Tribute Concert featuring the Terry Mike Jeffrey Band, and it got me thinking about the time Elvis spent in Las Vegas. Here’s are some interesting, numerical facts about Elvis and Las Vegas: 1956 – The year Elvis first performed in Las Vegas. He was actually received poorly by the conservative, middle-aged audience that was there at the time. 1964 – The year “Viva Las Vegas,” Elvis’ 15th film, was released.   8 – The length, in minutes, of Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding which took place at The Aladdin (present day Planet Hollywood) on May 1, 1967. 32 – The age Elvis was when he married Priscilla. 52 – The number of shows Elvis was scheduled to perform at the brand new International Hotel in 1969. 2200 – The number of audience members in his first show in Las Vegas after making his comeback. They gave him a standing ovation before he even began to sing.   5 – The length, in years, of the contract Elvis eventually had with the International Hotel to perform each February and August. 30 – The floor the penthouse was on that Elvis stayed in at The International Hotel. 5000 – Number of square feet that the penthouse was. 600+ – The number of consecutive sold out shows in Las Vegas.   Today, there are shows in Las Vegas that pay tribute to Elvis Presley. He is still very much alive in Las Vegas as he is with all of us here visiting Graceland for Elvis...
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Things You Might Not Know About Elvis Tribute Artists

By Alyssa Long The top Elvis Tribute Artists, aka ETAs, in the world gather in Memphis during Elvis Week to complete in the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. Throughout the year there are Elvis Tribute Artist competitions across the globe. The winners of these competitions are in the running to become the Ultimate ETA. I was able to sit down and chat with David Allen, one of this year’s top ten finalists, and I got the scoop on all things ETA. Here are some things I learned. They’re All Friends Winning the Ultimate ETA Contest during Elvis Week is a life changing event for these performers. Because of how important this contest is you would think the competitors would be cutthroat in the dressing room. It’s actually the complete opposite! They all know each other, they all encourage each other, they even have been known to share props and costumes for concerts! Being an Elvis Tribute Artist is like being part of a special brotherhood.   This Is A Full Time Job Even though the motivation is most definitely not money, Elvis Tribute Artists consider themselves extremely fortunate to be able to do what they love every single day. They have the unique ability to touch people’s lives in incredible ways through their Elvis performances. Whether it’s the woman in the nursing home who smiled for the first time in days or they’re giving young people an idea of what it was like to see Elvis perform, they are influencing Elvis fans and potential Elvis fans every single day.   They Don’t Like Stereotypes As their name suggests, Elvis Tribute Artists pay tribute to Elvis Presley, they don’t try to impersonate him. They strive to represent Elvis in an honest and satisfying way and put on a quality act. In fact, they consider themselves the biggest Elvis fans around.   It’s Hard Work Simply having a resemblance to Elvis Presley and a jumpsuit isn’t enough. Being an Elvis Tribute Artist is hard work. They do lots of research and they hold themselves to a very high standard, after all, they’re trying to pay the proper tribute to the king of rock. They also have the responsibility to bring the essence of Elvis to fans who never had the opportunity to see live Elvis performances. At the same time, it’s incredibly humbling and nerve-racking for them to perform in front...
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