By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A man walked onto the grounds of the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum on Tuesday, a man with inky hair, playful eyes, lips that hinted at a smirk, long sideburns and a voice with a true, graceful Southern twang.
It wasn’t Elvis, but it was the next best thing.
Cody Slaughter, this year’s winner of the Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival’s preliminary Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition, spent time touring Elvis’ stomping grounds on Tuesday. He’s preparing for the final round of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition, which is next Friday and Saturday in Memphis.
Slaughter, 20, toured the birthplace, Tupelo Hardware and other places in town. Dick Guyton, birthplace director, gave Slaughter a tour of the grounds. The Arkansas native also was deputized by Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson. Elvis was deputized in Lee County, too.
“When you really learn about the man and his roots, it brings you so much closer,” Slaughter said while investigating the chapel.
Slaughter is a longtime Elvis fan; he was honored over the weekend by DJ Fontana, who gave him the Horizon Heart of the King Award in Las Vegas.
“He’s my best friend,” he said of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. “He’s that for everybody.”
He said he truly feels Elvis’ spirit at the birthplace, and that’s something that will help him in the competition.
“You come here and you get the chills, feeling his spirit. You take that on stage, and you take his spirit with you,” he said.
Slaughter placed in the Top 10 in the final round of competition last year, but feels very confident about his chances this year.
“I’ve got Tupelo on my side, pushing me and guiding me,” he said. “This feels so differently than last year.”