Elvis Presley had left the building before Jaedyn Pilon came into the world but The King’s memory lives on in the soul of the young Edmonton singer.
Competing for the first time in the non-professional division of the Penticton Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival, the 14 year old captured the hearts of fans at every performance on the weekend, earning him a trip to Sunday’s finals at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
“I blame my dad for this because I wanted to form a Beatles tribute band but he said it’s a lot easier just to rely on yourself than find three other guys with the same passion and commitment that I have,” said Jaedyn after his gospel showcase performance at Okanagan Lake Park, with his father standing nearby smiling. “I don’t really know why I like his (Elvis) music, I just do.”
Despite his youthful appearance, the sideburns tactfully enhanced with a bit of makeup, his lyrical offerings belied his tender years.
And on stage in the finals he had the packed auditorium shakin’ all over and while Jaedyn didn’t finish in the top four he was still a winner in most people’s eyes.
At the other end of the musical spectrum and someone who had the opportunity to perform with the real Elvis, was Estelle Brown, an original member of The Sweet Inspirations.
In addition to singing with the likes of Van Morrison, Jimi Hendricks, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and the Bee Gees, her group was chosen by Presley as the female backups for all his concerts from 1969 until he died in 1977.
The group also had a number of their own hit recordings and the current members are still in great demand around the world.
Thinking back to her time with Presley, Brown said: “Everything I remember about Elvis is good.
“The main thing I remember about Elvis is that he would tell us, ‘there is no big I’s there’s no big you’s, we’re all one,’ that’s my favourite saying from Elvis, we’re all one.
“Even though Elvis in the body is not here his spirit still lives on and people appreciate the fact we continue his music and that keeps him alive.”
Brown, now 73, recalled the day of Elvis’ and the incredible impact it had on her life and the millions of others around the world.
“He will never be forgotten, he will always be with us in spirit,” she said.
A London cabby by day, Matt King’s alter ego by night was crowned The King at Sunday’s final of the Penticton Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival.
After his name was called King broke down on the convention centre stage, bending over, his face in his hands.
He edged out six other Elvi in the pro division, collecting the coveted Elvis jacket, trophy, $2,000 in cash and a spot in the August Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn.
“It’s been beautiful in Penticton, the people here have been unbelievably friendly and this is just the icing on the cake,” said King, 50.
He actually got his start in the business 25 years ago at an Elvis-themed cabaret in the Canary Islands.
“The original Elvis didn’t show up so they asked me and as they say, the rest is history,” said King who was encouraged to come to Penticton by his friend and fellow Elvis Tribute Artist Johnny Lee Memphis, the 2015 Penticton winner.
In the non-professional division it was high tech meets old school rock ’n roll with Surrey’s Stacey Cerniuk, 48 winning the judges’ favour.
For Cerniuk, who runs a high tech firm, it was his first competition here.
His Elvis infatuation began as a kid travelling with his mom.
“The car had an older stereo and we only had three eight tracks, two were Elvis and one was Buddy Holly and when you drive two days to Saskatchewan and two days back you end up learning all the words,” he said “So fast forward when I was in university I had a car that had no stereo so I would entertain myself by singing and the only songs I knew the words to were Elvis songs.”
Kevin Mills was runner up in the pros followed by Roger Anderson and Eli Williams.
Vic De Sousa was second in the non pros with Darrel Douglas and Dave Greene next.