Feature Article - by Kevin
Everyone enjoys a good performance by a talented Elvis Tribute Artist. At least everyone reading this article does. So imagine a full day of 24 exceptional entertainers bringing their best to compete for top honors.
That's Elvis in Dixieland.
Elvis in Dixieland is a southern preliminary to the "Images of the King" contest held in Memphis during Elvis Week. The third annual Elvis in Dixieland was held June 14, 2003 in Birmingham, AL. Hosted by local favorite David Lee, this year's event brought in talent all the way from Wisconsin.
I had the pleasure of meeting most of the entertainers backstage and, as expected, they came from all walks of life, from a Real Estate forecloser (Manual Rosado) to a Vice President for Wachovia (Chad Champion). Walter Williams was the youngest at 15 years old, but he's already been performing for 6 years. Bradley Scott, on the other hand, has been performing for 15years, and is still seeking a 1st place win. Marc Woodward is not only a tribute artist but he makes incredibly authentic jumpsuits. His most recent creation is being delivered to one of today's contestants. Some are just getting started (Joey Ashmore), others have sung with such classics as the Jordanaires (Jesse Aron) and the Blackwood Brothers (Rick Wade).
The competition was broken down into two rounds, 12 performers per round. Song selection ranged form the typical That's Alright Mama intro and fast movin' Suspicious Minds to little known greats like Tomorrow Never Comes (performed by Danny Dale) and Heart of Rome (by William Stiles). Each performer brought his own originality mixed in with that Elvis charisma. And even though the competition lasted into the wee hours of the morning, the energy of the performers and fans never waned. Definitely a first class event.
"Each year we get better at planning the event so things run more smoothly." said Tara Roseberry, the event coordinator. "Also each year the participation grows and interest grows." Planning for Elvis in Dixieland usually takes 7 to 8 months with almost a dozen staff members running the event. When asked why they do it, Tara responds, "Initially, we began this event to put Birmingham on the 'Elvis Map' so to speak, while at the same time helping out a charity. We continue to do this event each year because anytime there is an Elvis event done with class and respect for Elvis it only helps to keep his memory alive for future generations." Well stated.
This years finalists were Matt Joyce, Jason Sikes, Todd Martin, Marc Woodward and Terry Price, with First prize going to Jesse Aron. Although Jesse is no stranger to winning, he looked as humble and nervous as the rest waiting for the announcement. And if you haven't seen Jesse perform before, or heard his uncanny voice, you won't want to miss him in Memphis this year.
Untill then, we'll be looking for the next great competition and anticipating Elvis in Dixieland 2004.