On August 13, 2015 the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Finals took place at the Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Each year since 2007, the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Champion is crowned. During the finals ten Tribute Artists compete against each other. However, they are not compared against each other but against Elvis Presley. Vocals (40 percent), style, stage wear, and stage presence (each 20 percent) are the criteria counting in order to find the one person, who represents Elvis best.
In this order the ten finalists performed each two songs on stage: Pat Dunn, Ryan Pelton, Alex Swindle, David Lee, Johnny Lee Memphis, Kevin Mills, Dwight Icenhower, Michael Chambliss, Tim Hendry, and David Allen. I appreciated very much, that you did not only hear the most popular Elvis songs during the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Finals, but also some songs that maybe only the fans know…
What I think was not so great, was that the Tribute Artists mostly stood in the middle of the stage or went to the left – where the jury sat. Only few ones also went to the right side. The Change of Habitat Tribute Band did an outstanding performance – as always! They’re just awesome!
I sat down with pen and paper and tried to find my personal winner, too. I rated each song, and after the first round I had two first places (Tim Hendry, and Dwight Icenhower), one second place (David Lee), one third place (Ryan Pelton) and one fourth place (David Allen). Well, that’s not exactly what the jury thought. Those five contestants made it to the final round: Michael Chambliss, David Lee, Dwight Icenhower, Ryan Pelton, and Pat Dunn. At least we agreed on three contestants. During the last round every Tribute Artist only performed one song.
My choice would have been: third place Ryan Pelton (Polk Salad Annie), second place David Lee (America The Beautiful), and first place Dwight Icenhower (Bridge over troubeled water). Again, not exactly the jury’s choice – but closer than before: they voted Ryan Pelton for third place, Dwight Icenhower for second place, and David Lee won the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest 2015.
David Lee won the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, and therefore is the ninth champion to travel the world and perform as Elvis Presley. He definitely brought the most fans to the Orpheum Theatre – and he took a lot of time after the contest to take pictures and sign autographs in front of the stage! He actually took that much time, that the front doors of the theatre were already closed, when the last fans left the building.
I’ve said it before: joining the ETA Contest for the very first time was a great experience! I very much enjoyed seeing these great performances. If you ever get the chance to go to Memphis for the ETA contest, please do so! You can watch several great Tribute Artists for some hours and enjoy a fantastic show. In 2016 the tenth winner will be crowned, so you definitely don’t wanna miss that!