By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
Performing as his favorite artist is an honor for Bill Cherry, and it’s doubly so when he’s asked to perform in that artist’s hometown birthday celebration.
Cherry has been an Elvis tribute artist for more than 20 years, and the past few years have been extra sweet to him. He won the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition preliminaries at the Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival in 2009, and took the grand prize home that same year in Memphis.
“As a result of that, I got to work with the Legends in Concert tour and begin part of the Ultimate Elvis tour,” Cherry said. “It was quite an experience, getting to see places I’d never seen and seeing the fans. It was just an amazing year.”
Cherry, who lives in St. Louis, just released two new CDs as well.
One is a Christmas record, while the other is a gospel CD.
Cherry’s father was a minister, so he grew up surrounded by gospel music.
“The gospel stuff just means so much. I was raised in church, and you can tell when you listen to (the CD),” he said. “And you can really tell when Elvis sang those songs – you could feel it, because he could relate to it, because of Elvis’ roots and his upbringing.”
Cherry was also featured prominently on the cover of “All the King’s Men,” a book about Elvis tribute artists written by Joseph Clough. Cherry wrote one of the book’s forwards.
“It’s an honor and a pleasure, especially for a book that’s honoring the tribute artists,” he said.
Home and beyond
Tupelo has always been welcoming to him, he said, and he’s honored to perform in the King’s hometown to celebrate his birthday.
“It’s a home feeling to me, as a fan,” Cherry said. “It’s just kind of unreal to be on the stage performing Elvis songs in his hometown and during his birthday. What an honor.”
Cherry specializes in Elvis’ concert years. His set for the Friday show will highlight some of Elvis’ lesser-known songs.
“We’re going to try to touch base on a lot of the favorites, and do some obscure songs that people probably haven’t heard in a while. Being in the tribute circle, I’m sure people get tired of hearing the same old stuff, so I try to make it a little different by doing some more obscure stuff,” Cherry said.
The rest of 2011 holds more touring for Cherry.
He’s working on a spring cruise and a possible summer Australian tour.
“We’re looking kinda busy,” he said, laughing. “We’ll just keep on rocking and rolling, keeping the memories of the King alive.”
– Who: Ultimate Tribute Artist Bill
Cherry and the EAS Band
– When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
– Where: The Lyric Theatre, Tupelo
– Cost: $39/VIP,$29/general admission,
plus service fees
– Info: (662) 841-6598