ELVIS UPDATE: Klush, Unity Choir sing out with 'How Great Thou Art"

By Patsy R. Brumfield / Daily Journal





12:20 P.M. SUNDAY
TUPELO – Shawn Klush, international Elvis tribute artist, wowed them at Tupelo’s Lyric Theatre to wrap up the weekend’s event with a gospel flair.
Klush, backed up by the famed Blackwood Quartet, brought his amazing talent to the stage for the style of music Tupelo native Elvis first learned to sing.
Memphis Jones, the program’s emcee, introduced the Blackwoods as “legendary” and a group Elvis admired after his family moved to Memphis when he was 13.
The voice of Klush, Ultimate Elvis’ first winner in 2007, soared with “This Time You Gave Me a Mountain,” evoking Presley and country great Marty Robbins.
Among the finale highlights – “He Touched Me,” “Rock Me, Lord,” “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.”
Tupelo’s Unity Choir also lent their voices to his “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.”
Before Klush took the stage, the Blackwoods warmed up the audience with their gospel program.
• Read more details in Monday’s Daily Journal.
11:15 A.M. SUNDAY
TUPELO – Jay Dupuis, Tupelo’s 2013 Elvis Tribute Artist winner, says he’s always aspired to win here, knowing the edge he will take to the Ultimate ETA competition in Memphis in August.
“This has been on my wish list for a long time,” the 38-year-old New Orleans man said today as the Gospel show continued in the Lyric Theatre downtown.
He said he’s looking forward to vocal and physical workouts as he prepares for the Memphis events.
After Tupelo Unity Choir, The Landmarks took the stage with four-part harmony gospel as they promote St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis.
• Read Monday’s Daily Journal for more from Dupuis.
10:45 A.M. SUNDAY
TUPELO – Singing “When the Saints Go Marching In,” Tupelo’s Unity Choir led Elvis Presley fans into this morning’s gospel program, to wrap up the weekend’s 2013 Elvis Festival.
Hundreds of fans filed behind them into the Lyric Theatre for a packed house of music to feature the style of music for which Tupelo native Elvis won his only Grammies.
Bearing the traditional church fans shaped like guitars, Unity Choir members turned on the volume for the audience.
Choir director, Robert Hall, praises the choir and introduces each section to the applause of the audience.
•Come back for updates.
9:54 A.M. SUNDAY
TUPELO – Elvis’ first-love, gospel music, will take front and center in a few minutes at the Ultimate Gospel-Soul Brunch in downtown Tupelo.
But first, it’s time for good with fruit, muffins, fried chicken, barbecued pork tenderloin, tomato grits and egg-and-ham casserole.
Promoters say that after the outdoor concert, fans will march into the adjacent Lyric Theatre for more music and a “goose-bumper” finale.
9:30 A.M. SUNDAY
TUPELO – Elvis fans lined up for a Gospel-Soul brunch this morning in advance of music and tribute artists, which bring them annually to Tupelo’s famous Elvis Festival.
Shawn Klush and other world-famous tribute artists are due on stage, but first, fans are going through the food line before Memphis Jones and others tell them about Gospel music’s influence on Elvis Presley, Tupelo’s native son.
• Come back for updates throughout the program this morning. Also watch Patsy’s Tweets @DJournalnow and #realnewsqueen on Twitter.com.

SATURDAY NIGHT POST:
By JB Clark / Daily Journal
TUPELO – Elvis fans packed out the Lyric Theatre on Saturday for two sold-out Elvis tribute performances and a morning Q-and-A.
Inside the Lyric Theatre, past winners talked about what goes into winning an Elvis Tribute Competition during the morning and then for most of the afternoon and evening, tribute artists rocked out with the EAS Band to a lively audience.
The packed crowd went wild when the tribute artists shook their hips, shouting for more between songs.
The final competition Saturday pitted the best 10 Elvis tribute artists against each other, and Louisiana native Jay Dupuis was named the Elvis Tribute Artist winner. He will represent Tupelo in the upcoming Memphis competition. Jeff Lewis from Norman, Okla, is first runner-up in the competition Brycen Katolinsky from St. Catherine’s, Ontario is second runner-up.
Pat Stringer, Jennifer Stringer, Ann Boyd and Royce Bowman, all of Tylertown, spent the afternoon watching the tribute artists and agreed they were all wonderful.
“To appreciate it, you have to first love Elvis,” Boyd said.
“Then you have to realize the dedication these boys have put into it to try to keep his name alive,” Bowman added.
Outside the theater, the morning started with more than 150 runners participating in a 5k coordinated by the Tupelo Running Club and United Blood Services followed by a pet parade and Elvis look-alike contest sponsored by the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society and Dillworth Animal Hospital.
Animals – including dogs and more exotic pets like a goat, a guinea pig and an iguana – dressed in jumpsuits, sunglasses and sideburns strutted their stuff on the North Broadway Street stage.
Laural Wilson of Rodgersville, Mo., brings her pets to compete in the pet look-alike competition every year. Her new Boston terrier Dixie won the prize for best costume Saturday morning.
She said the turnout to the dog show was better this year and thinks the earlier time and cooler weather may have helped.
Jessica Reed of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association said they had a good turnout for the morning’s pet pageant and attendees lingered through the day.
On West Main Street, Wayne and Earline Thorn sat in front of the Main Attraction and sang gospel tunes.
Wayne Thorn said his dear friend, the late Frank Smith, was the Assembly of God minister who would sit at the altar after church on Sunday morning and teach young Elvis Presley how to pick out chords on the guitar.
After playing their first song, Thorn addressed the small crowd gathered to watch, “Now that’s the kind of music Elvis liked to sing.”
Polly Smith, of Memphis, Miss., and Jean Hill, of Grenada, come to the festival together every year.
Smith said they enjoyed the Fairpark concert Friday night and were looking forward to the tribute artist finals Saturday night but couldn’t find much to do outside those events.
“Last year there was more of an agenda,” she said. “The only thing that is really organized this year is Fair(park) and the Lyric.”
She said they will definitely return next year but hope to see more and better promotion of the Saturday programming.
Also on Saturday night, previous Elvis Ultimate Tribute Artist Cody Slaughter, Surviving Allison, American Idol contestant Skylar Laine and Montgomery Gentry played in Fairpark.
jb.clark@journalinc.com

Elvis Pet Parade & Pageant
BEST OVERALL PRIZE: Lola, a three-year-old chihuahua, and Bear, a six-year-old pomeranian, of Oakland, Tenn.
BEST ELVIS LOOK-ALIKE: MATLOCK, a two-year-old rescued brichon frise, of Tupelo
BEST ELVIS COSTUME: Dixie of Rodgersville, Mo.
BEST PET/OWNER LOOKALIKE: Jedi, a five-year-old rescued maltese mix, and Melissa King of Tupelo
MOST UNUSUAL PET: Bruce, a five-year-old bearded dragon from Saltillo

Today’s Event
10 a.m. – “Ultimate Gospel for the Soul” Brunch with Shawn Klush, The Blackwood Quartest, Joe Moscheo of the Imperials, Tupelo Unity
Choir and the Landmarks at the Lyric Theatre. $25, includes brunch.

For more Elvis Festival photos check out today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.