By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Good things start in Tupelo.
If you don’t believe that, just ask the next best thing to Elvis Presley, 2011 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist champ Cody Slaughter.
Slaughter, 20, took home the ETA title in Tupelo, then again in Memphis, and then was cast as the King in the touring company of the musical “Million Dollar Quartet,” which tells the story of Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis’ storied jam session in 1956.
It seems Slaughter’s good luck started a year ago in Tupelo, and it’ll continue when he returns to the Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival this weekend.
“Tupelo’s been the nicest,” he said in a phone interview with the Journal from a “Million Dollar Quartet” stop in Portland, Ore. “It’s the love of Elvis – it’s so real when you go to Tupelo.”
He’ll perform both at the Fairpark concerts Friday and Saturday, as well as at his own concert at The Lyric Saturday. He’ll also make an appearance at the Sunday gospel concert.
In “Million Dollar Quartet,” he has to sing the songs in the show and follow the script, so he doesn’t get to be spontaneous on stage. Still, he loves getting to step into the King’s shoes night after night in addition to his work as a tribute artist.
“I’ve made this Elvis role, and it’s no different than what I do in the show. I have some lines, but I really don’t act any different,” he said.
Slaughter said he hopes the role will help him move on to a career in TV and movies.
But before that, he’ll return to where it all started.
The last time Slaughter was in Tupelo, he turned 20, took home the ETA title, won in Memphis and scored the role in the musical.
This time, he’ll turn 21 on June 3, perform several times and then go back out on the road for more “Million Dollar Quartet” performances and gigs in Australia and Brazil.
Following in the King’s footsteps has worked out just fine for Slaughter.
“People ask me all the time what town we’re in, and I say I don’t know nothing,” he said, laughing. “People will say, ‘Where are you going next week?’ and I say, ‘I have no idea.’”
7:30 TONIGHT – DJ Fontana, Sonny Burgess & the Pacers and 2010 Tupelo Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Kevin Mills
7:30 P.M. FRIDAY – 2008 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Brandon Bennett
7 P.M. SATURDAY – 2011 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Cody Slaughter
THESE SHOWS ARE SOLD OUT, but you can watch a simulcast outside on Court Street. Tickets are $10 each night.
SUNDAY GOSPEL SHOW at The Lyric, featuring The Landmarks and Kevin Mills and a special appearance by Cody Slaughter. Tickets are $15.