The King ain't (quite) dead

By by dianna wray/
April 27, 2011 at 2:02 p.m.
Updated April 26, 2011 at 11:27 p.m.

Elvis impersonator Donny Edwards

Elvis impersonator Donny Edwards

Elvis has been dead for far too long, but when Donny Edwards takes the stage on Saturday night, you can pretend it ain't so for a few beautiful hours.

Edwards has been working as an Elvis Presley tribute artist since 2002.

Growing up in Lake Jackson, looking like Elvis Presley didn't seem like much of a marketable skill.

After graduating from high school, he moved to Port Lavaca to learn a trade at one of the plants where his brother worked.

That didn't pan out, so he went to college to study computer science - a practical choice since everyone needed people who could work on computers.

He got out of school, and was trying to find a job, when he entered an Elvis Presley karaoke competition - and won.

He got a lot of compliments and started playing bigger and bigger tribute gigs, all over Texas and then all over the country. Now, he plays all over the world. He was chosen to perform at the recreation of Presley's 1956 Tupelo, Miss., Homecoming Tour in 2006. His performances have taken him worldwide.

There are thousands of Elvis Presley tribute artists out there, but Edwards says it is his dedication to detail that makes his show special.

His shows cover the 1950s, when Presley's career was just beginning to take off, to the giddy success of the early 1960s and his resurgence, complete with the white jumpsuit, in the 1970s.

"A lot of guys get up there, and they're kind of doing their own thing, using the Elvis image, but I always wanted to do it like he did it," Edwards said.

Edwards, 36, works hard to give the people what they want.

"It takes a lot of energy to do what he did. I can lose four to five pounds in a night," Edwards said.

His favorite moment onstage is when he gets to sing "Suspicious Minds," while horns wail in the background. The best of Elvis - the quality of passion, showmanship, feeling and pure voice can be heard in that song.

"It's my favorite part of the show," he said. "If you can capture that persona, where for a split second people feel like they are seeing the original, that's what it's all about," he said.



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