TUPELO – Kevin Mills had been crowned the 2010 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist in Tupelo for less than 24 hours, but already he was thinking of ways to take home the top prize in Memphis.
Mills, 44, an Elvis tribute artist, won the Tupelo contest Saturday night at the Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival and will now compete in the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competition in Memphis in August. Mills landed third place in the Memphis battle last year.
“I’m gonna make Tupelo proud,” Mills said Sunday afternoon at the gospel show that finished the festival. “I’m gonna take it all.”
Mills, a New Jersey native, grew up listening to jazz and singers like Frank Sinatra.
When he was 9, his brother brought home a stack of records he bought at a flea market.
“He said, ‘Pick one,’ and I saw Elvis,” Mills said. “I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’”
He learned to mimic The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and started his own rockabilly band.
At 23, he entered an Elvis tribute artist competition and won it.
He’s been a tribute artist since.
Mills now lives in Toronto with his wife, Luana, and his two children, Selina, 11, and Jordan, 8.
There are 26 preliminary competitions for the Ultimate Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis, and Mills chose Tupelo as his battleground. He beat 40 other tribute artists to win in The King’s hometown.
“It’s an overwhelming honor to win the competition in Tupelo. It’s like a dream,” he said.
Mills said he feels this year is his year to win.
“When I was a kid, I told my brother, Mike, ‘I want to be Elvis. I want to do that as my job.’ That dream is starting to become a reality,” he said. “My personal goal is to win that, and then just enjoy it, until I can’t do it anymore. Until I can’t shake a leg.”
Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal