Tupelo tribute winner vows victory in Memphis

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – More than half of Cody Slaughter’s life has been spent portraying the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
“I just don’t remember a time where I didn’t know who Elvis was,” he said. “I’ve been an Elvis fan forever, as far back as I remember.”
Slaughter, who turned 20 on Friday, won this year’s Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival Preliminary Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition. He’s been an Elvis Tribute Artist so long, it’s almost second nature to him.
“When I was in second grade I was in this talent show at my school, and I lip-synched to ‘Hound Dog’ in a two-piece jumpsuit and a pair of black boots. I did that just for fun,” he said.
At 12, he went to a serious Elvis tribute artist competition and ended up performing on stage, performing an a cappella version of “Hound Dog.”
“It was like the coolest thing that had ever happened, so it kinda happened by accident,” he said. “It really took off when I was about 12.”
Slaughter, a native of Harrison, Ark., entered the Tupelo contest last year and came in second place. He came back this year determined to win.
“I realized that it is more about vocals, and it’s not about moving around and looking like Elvis. It’s about trying to create the closest allusion to Elvis,” he said. “You’ve just gotta be on your game.”
Having confidence and keeping focus on his performance also helped him score the title, he said.
He’ll enter the Ultimate Tribute Artist Competition in Memphis in August and represent Tupelo.
“I’m already thinking about it, because it’s the big one. I want to represent Tupelo as well as I can. I want Tupelo to win it,” he said.
He has experience on his side, since he’s paid tribute to the King for more than 10 years. Making the leap from Cody Slaughter to Elvis Presley is quick and natural.
“I’m Cody up until I walk on stage, and when I walk off, I’m Cody,” he said. “With the guys backstage, I’m goofing off, but then I get off to myself, I say a little prayer and then I go on stage.”
Contact Sheena Barnett at (662) 678-1580 or sheena.barnett@journalinc.com.