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.

Elvis Tribute Artists

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.

 

Recreating Elvis Performances

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.

 

A group of Elvis tribute artists
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.

 

An Elvis tribute performance
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 of people who were fortunate enough to have seen Elvis live.

 

Elvis tribute artist group photo
At the end of the day, Elvis Tribute Artists love what they do, they love Elvis, and love giving fans the most authentic Elvis performances possible.

Side note, they’re also some of the nicest people I have ever met! If you missed the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest this year, I highly suggest you get tickets for next year! It’s truly amazing. Congratulations to David Lee, this year’s winner!


28 Comments

  1. Linda Strathie

    Can’t wait till next year. Will be a fantastic experience

  2. Lillian Christianson

    Do you have any ultimate Elvis from Canada.we have at least one I go see when ever possible. Immitates so good name is Daylin James he lives in Thunder Bay Ontario.Why I am asking I don’t see him on the pictures at the to of this page. Thank You.

    • We do have several ETAs who are from Canada. These guys competed in licensed contests around the world, won and advanced to the semifinal (and then final) rounds in Memphis. Daylin should keep competing until he makes it to Memphis!

  3. I have had the privilege to see two ETA’S. 2014 We saw Steve Michaels. Amazing show. I loved it. Then 2015 we saw Chris Connor. Wow seeing him perform gave me chills. I was to young to see Elvis live. Seeing these two entertainers was OUTSTANDING. My husband and I will be going to more shows. Keep up the AWESOME WORK. Going to Memphis May 2016

  4. May Haynes

    What these tribute artists do for us bring memories of Elvis the king of rock and roll to life for us. I love his music and movies. He was a lot to a lot of people. He was a generous, kind religious man. I go to as many concerts in his name as I can and feel his presence there. It brings back my memories of my teen years and. I feel young and happy and sing along with these talented men. So for this I say Thank You, ThankYou Very Much. God bless Elvis Presley King of Rock And Roll.

  5. Deb Curran

    I have met many Elvis Tribute Artist
    I do not know then on the personal level. But 99 percent of these men that I have met treated me {a fan} as family alot of them have even remembered Me from previous shows I have many photos and memories
    they all are champions I love them dearly I could not thank these people enough for the pure pleasure they gave to me… Thank you for all you Tribute Artists do

  6. peggy goodman

    i i like all those guys dressed like elvis ,,, although its not ELVIS*****

  7. liked elvis since the 1970,s music and movies

  8. Ernest Guarino

    last year at the lake George elvis festival, I saw david lee perform for the first time and I remember telling that he would win and go to graceland and win the big one. regretfully he didn’t win.This year I saw him at the festival and predicted he would do it this time. way to go David Lee and not giving up. That’s how its done. Perseverance and success will always follow.

  9. Donna Koester

    Love David Lee and respect all that be has gone through to get here. Hope he will be at The Elvis Explosion in La Crosse……!

  10. Parkersburg,WVA has a very good “ELVIS” by the name of JIm Forshey who does not many great shows around the area.would like to see him compete next year.

  11. Janie Midthun

    Wish the ETA’s names was published with the pictures, leaves us guessing who’s who.

  12. This is great, thank you for sharing. These men give so much to honor Elvis, he would be proud.i enjoy watching them, wished I could have been there I am going to Graceland in Dec and hope some of you may he around!!

  13. DelLinda Tryon

    My favorite is Jamie Aaron Kelley He is so talented and one of the most genuine and nicest person I have ever met.

  14. jill hicks

    Love elvis

  15. Susan Niles

    I’ve been there in Graceland for Elvis week and it is the greatest experience you can have. I’ll be going in 2017 with a bunch of family and friends and I can’t wait. All the ETA are great.

  16. Peggy Baggett

    This article is spot on. My husband and I have privileged to work with Michael Chambliss, a super talented tribute artist. Not only has he and his wife become personal friends, he is one of the most humble people I know. He words hard at his craft! I love that he loves performing the gospel side of Elvis as well. These men have been given a gift and their tributes to Elvis serve the king well!

  17. Cheryl cain

    I have seen a few of these talents and they are awesome!

  18. Sue Trosclair

    Missed this year s events due to illness, but plan to be there again in 2016. Michael Chambliss is my first cousin and I know how much heart and soul he puts into this, he has an awesome voice as he has been singing gospel music since childhood.

  19. Linda Brookins

    I hope I can be there next year. Enjoyed watching the top 10 perform. I have seen so many great tribute artists. Among them Dean Z, Bill Cherry, Jay Dupuis, Cody Ray Slaughter, Dwight Icenhower, and the list goes on. I give thanks to all these guys for keeping us die-hard Elvis fans entertained . Having seen Elvis in person, it is easy to weed-out the ones that are not really in it to win it. We all know there will never be another Elvis. These guys are also Elvis fans and spend so much of their time working to perfect their tribute to the “King of Rock and Roll.” Thank all of you.

  20. jay mazzei

    great stuff

  21. Patricia Masotto

    AWESOME!!!!! Wish I was there!!!!!

  22. I went to my first festival in June in lake George and was hooked and went to Tupelo the following week I have never met a finer group of people and humble group of guys they are all there for the same reason and that is to pay tribute and respect to Elvis what respect they have I’m lovin this Elvis world I’ve always been an Elvis fan but enjoy it so much more now with knowing the eta s great job to all of them and thank you

  23. I was fortunate enough to watch one of them in person :the one and only Ryan Pelton Inegallable, magnificent, not to mention the best actor in the movie The Identical :))))

  24. Eddie Pearson

    I enjoy ETA because they give you an idea of what it must have been like to see Elvis live.

  25. Susan Grant

    When and where will we be able to see this show? Also, I wish they would turn their microphones up a little when they talk outside. I can hear the videos just fine but barely the life parts. Love that man!! One more thing, I know Shawn Klush was the first one ever, but do each of them have the same title only different years? Saw Shawn live and got the same goose bumps as when I saw Elvis in Vegas every time he was there. I was one of the lucky ones who saw him in the best years of his life. RIP, he was the best!!!

    • The contest itself is held every year during Elvis Week in Memphis. We don’t release a full video of the contest, just clips or behind-the-scenes action. And you’re right, they all hold the same title – Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist – with different years. Come down to Memphis and see the contest – it’s quite an experience!

  26. Marnita

    Awesome guys they are. Love hearing David Lee sing & watching him is better…lol…congratulations to all of the ETA’s of the Ultimate Elvis Contest. Hugs to Bama Boy David Lee he is fantastic.

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