Elvis Week Blog 3 – Backstage at the Ultimate: An Interview with host Joey Sulipeck

BY JON WATERHOUSE Throughout this year’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, all eyes and ears remained fixed on the competitors. The glimmering jumpsuits, the robust vocals, the rhythmic moves. It’s their night, especially 2018 Champion Ben Thompson from England. If you ask host Joey Sulipeck, it’s his job to keep it that way. “I’ve always seen my role during the show as the last person you think of,” said Sulipeck, who works as Chief Meteorologist for FOX13 News in Memphis. “I need to be as invisible as possible and funnel everything I say and do toward (helping) the audience enjoy the next performance.” Sulipeck’s been helping audiences enjoy the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest since its debut in 2007. Prior to that, he served as a host for the early editions of Graceland’s Candlelight VigilCast, the annual live Webcast of Elvis Week’s Candlelight Vigil. For years, the Memphis native and lifelong Elvis enthusiast had been fascinated and impressed by the local Elvis tribute performer scene. He watched as high caliber talent, many traveling from all over the country, came to town, singing at showcases and in contests. The artists’ passion, dedication and ability to recreate Elvis’ live performances struck Sulipeck to the point he shared his findings with his friends at Elvis Presley Enterprises. After much consideration, Elvis Presley Enterprises decided to create the inaugural Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest as the premier event of its kind. And they’ve enlisted Sulipeck as master of ceremonies ever since. “I think it was a brilliant move for Graceland to embrace (these performers),” said Sulipeck. “It really helps propel the legacy of Elvis, his music and his reach. It brings his music to life in a way very few things do. These talented performers are tying into peoples’ aching desire to have seen Elvis perform or see him perform again.” Prior to this year’s finals, Sulipeck gave the Elvis Week blog a backstage view of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. On the popularity of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest: “So we kicked off the first year wondering if it would work, if it would be a one-time deal. It was going to be a fun experiment to see how it went. I thought it would be (great) if we did it two years in a row. Now here we are 12 (contests) later. …I’ve just been honored to have been...
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Elvis Week Blog 2 – Exclusive: ‘Where No One Stands Alone’ Producer Andy Childs

BY JON WATERHOUSE Yesterday, for veteran record producer and singer-songwriter Andy Childs, a project born at Elvis Week 2017 came full circle in the very spot it began. Flanked by Lisa Marie Presley, Joel Weinshanker and Sony Music’s John Jackson, Childs and company celebrated the release of “Where No One Stands Alone,” a reimagining of select Elvis Presley gospel songs with new instrumentation and Elvis’ original vocal performances as the centerpiece. Childs and company treated the audience inside the Graceland Soundstage to album snippets, the music video for the title track –Elvis and Lisa Marie’s virtual father-daughter duet– and a 20-minute making-of documentary. A dream project for sure, “Where No One Stands Alone” saw Childs co-producing the album, wrangling 14 tracks, handpicking musicians and some of the original background vocalists who worked with Elvis, and crafting contemporary-minded song structure. Yet, the Memphis-born Childs said his main goal was putting the spotlight on the unmistakeable voice of the city’s endearing, international icon. After wrapping the album, Childs, a lifelong Elvis fan, said his appreciation for Presley has soared to new heights. The aspect of the album he’s most proud of? “Elvis Presley,” said Childs, “and the fact that I feel we were able to make him front-and-center in every single song.” During a recent conversation, Childs gave the Elvis Week blog an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the album’s genesis, collaborating with Lisa Marie Presley, and the daunting responsibility of spearheading a posthumous Elvis project. On how he got involved: “I was first approached about working on the album by Joel Weinshanker and John Jackson from Sony last year during Elvis Week. The reason they approached me is because I’ve produced a lot of projects in Nashville, and I’m friends with all of the gospel singers who used to travel and sing with Elvis and sing on his records. I’ve done a lot of programs with those guys and have known them all for a lot of years. My two sons are grandsons of Cecil Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. And (Blackwood) was one of Elvis’ biggest influences. So I’ve had a connection to the rock ‘n’ roll world, the record world, the gospel world, and all of that stuff. And it all just sort of dictated that I might be a good choice.” On wrapping his head around the project: “The first thing you ask yourself when you’re asked...
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Elvis Week Blog 1 – 10 Reasons to Get Excited About Elvis Week 2018

BY JON WATERHOUSE Lord almighty, I feel my temperature rising. Even as I settle in for my sixth stint as Elvis Week blogger, the arrival of this annual celebration of all things Elvis smacks with excitement. Although last year’s installment proved to be a landmark edition, Elvis Presley Enterprises and Graceland promise the ultimate encore. Elvis Week 2018 offers an array of attractions and not-to-miss events, from time-honored favorites to Elvis Week firsts. So how does an Elvis Week attendee make the most of all this Elvisness? The Elvis Week app allows you to select events you’re most interested in and create your own personal schedule. If you can’t make it to Memphis, check out the blog as I provide a behind-the-scenes look with event coverage, backstage interviews and more. 10 REASONS TO GET EXCITED ABOUT ELVIS WEEK 2018 Listening Party for “Where No One Stands Alone” Tomorrow fans receive the rare opportunity to attend a kick-off celebration of the new disc “Where No One Stands Alone.” It’s a reimagining of select gospel tracks from the king’s career, featuring Elvis’ lead vox, fresh background vocals from some of the original singers and new instrumentation. Lisa Marie Presley – she duets with her dad on the title cut- and co-producers Joel Weinshanker and Andy Childs give guests a peek behind the curtain of this album event. Insider Tip: Fans can grab copies of this fresh-out-of-the-box release at Elvis Week, and listen to Elvis Radio on SiriusXM as the DJs spin various tracks. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Each year at Elvis Week, the world’s greatest Elvis tribute artists duke it out for prizes and bragging rights. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest is their Super Bowl, and the semifinal (tonight) and final round performances (Aug. 12) remain two of the hottest tickets. Need even more Ultimate? Elvis: The Greatest Hits Ultimate Tribute Artist Show (Aug. 11) features Victor Trevino Jr. and a trio of past winners: Bill Cherry, Cody Slaughter and Gordon Hendricks. Insider Tip: If you want to meet an ETA in person and missed out on the sold-out meet-and-greet event, visit the Elvis Week Entertainment Tent at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, a favorite haunt of many performers. Graceland Excursions See where it all began. These luxury motor coach tours offer a pair of day trips tracing Elvis’ early years and musical influences, respectively. The beat rolls on through Elvis...
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Elvis Week Trivia Game

Who’s ready for Elvis Week? Elvis Week 2018 will be the biggest and best Elvis Week yet! We look forward to welcoming fans from around the world as they make the ultimate pilgrimage to be with us during this annual celebration of the life and legacy of Elvis Presley. How well do you know this year’s special guests, events and celebrations? Take the quiz and find out – and don’t forget to make your Elvis Week plans now at...
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