By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – Like Elvis himself, Cody Slaughter has wanted to be a rock star for nearly his whole life.
As a young boy growing up in Arkansas, he’d imitate Elvis Presley in school talent shows.
His dreams became reality in 2011, when he won Tupelo’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competition and then took the crown in Memphis.
He’s spent his time since then traveling the world starring as Elvis, both in tribute artist shows and in the company of the Broadway musical “Million Dollar Quartet.”
“It seems like it was yesterday since I won at the Tupelo Elvis Festival,” he said in a phone interview with the Daily Journal. “I’ve been to every state, Canada, England, Australia.”
Still, Tupelo is a place he holds dear.
“I think Tupelo is the most special. There’s a feeling in Tupelo. You feel right at home. I love going there,” he said.
He’ll return to his idol’s hometown tonight to kick off the Tupelo Elvis Festival.
He’ll perform tonight, but he doesn’t have a special set list ready. He likes for the crowd’s energy to determine how he performs.
“I don’t like to think too much about it,” he said. “I want it to be raw. I don’t want it to be scripted.”
He has some big plans for the rest of his year – more tours and a few TV deals he can’t discuss. He’s proud of his successes he’s racked up since he was crowned a champ in Tupelo.
“Things seem to be working out,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of miles in the car.”
TUPELO ELVIS FESTIVAL
Tribute artist concert and competition schedule
All events at the BancorpSouth Arena. Tickets and more info at tupeloelvisfestival.com.
7:30 p.m.: Concert featuring Memphis Jones, Cody Slaughter and DJ Fontana
10 a.m.: Round 1 of UETA Preliminary Competition
7 p.m.: Concert with Bill Cherry, Brandon Bennett, Sonny Burgess and the Pacers with DJ Fontana
10 p.m.: Free dance party with Big Jim & Argo
10 a.m.: Conversations with Tom Brown featuring Charles Stone, Jerry Chesnut, DJ Fontana and Big Jim & Argo
1 p.m.: Round 2 of UETA Preliminary Competition
7 p.m.: Concert featuring the final round of UETA Preliminary Competition, Victor Trevino and Jay Dupuis
10 a.m.: Gospel concert and brunch featuring Victor Trevino, Blackwood Brothers Quartet, Tupelo Unity Choir and the Landmarks
More fun at the festival
The Tupelo Elvis Festival also includes a carnival, an All-Elvis VIP meet and greet (4 p.m. Friday at the Tupelo Automobile Museum), Running with the King 5K, pet parade and pageant (9 a.m. Saturday at BancorpSouth Arena), a late night party at the Ice House on Saturday and two nights of concerts at Fairpark.
Sister Hazel, Ingram Hill and the Greg Dillard Band will perform starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday for $10.
Joe Nichols, Dustin Lynch and Brandon Bennett will perform in Fairpark starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and those tickets are $20.