By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Winning Tupelo’s Elvis Tribute Artist competition has been Jay Dupuis’ goal for quite some time.
Sunday, as he ate tomato grits before the Elvis Festival finale, he relaxed for a moment, knowing he’d reached that prize.
“Since I came in third at the Ultimate Elvis competition in 2011, I haven’t stopped,” the 38-year-old Louisianian said.
Tupelo’s contest, though, is a feat he’s challenged three times.
“It’s been on my wish list for a while,” Dupuis said with a tired smile. “In the Elvis world, it’s a very special thing in a special place.”
Dupuis (pronounced DUE-PWEE) gauged that winning in Tupelo is important for success in the top contest in Memphis because so many other great Elvis Presley artists have been Tupelo winners.
“The fans ‘get it’ here – they understand what Elvis is all about,” he noted about Tupelo’s most famous native son.
His eyes are on August’s Ultimate contest in Memphis, where the best of the best show up.
His Tupelo win gives him an emotional lift and a new “mystique,” which all other competitors acknowledge.
But first, he’s back home to New Orleans where he plans physical and vocal workouts to prepare for the biggest contest.
Dupuis says past-winner Bill Cherry advised him to take a new approach, and he’s sold to put his sole focus on Elvis and his own performance.
“I don’t mean to be rude,” he observed, “but Bill says I’ve got to keep in my own zone – forget about what anybody else is doing.
“I don’t want to hear anybody but Elvis in my head.”