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Donny Edwards to pay tribute to Elivs Presely at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod

Donny edwards

Donny Edwards performs as Elvis Presley Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod in his show ‘The King: A Musical Tribute.’

FORT MACLEOD — Like so many people, Donny Edwards grew up a fan of the music of Elvis Presley.
From the time he was a boy Edwards fostered his appreciation for the King by listening to his parents’ records.
“Ever since I can remember, I was always drawn to him,” Edwards said. “There was always something unique about him . . . he had that persona. I think as a kid it reflected to me a lot of positivity.”
Edwards has since fashioned a career as a decorated Elvis tribute artist and brings his show “The King: A Musical Tribute” to the stage of the Fort Macleod theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1.
Edwards, who will be backed up by the Cadillac Kings featuring the Uptown Hornz, will perform songs made famous by Elvis Presley from the 1950s to ’70s.
“Our show goes from the beginning of Elvis’ career in the 1950s all the way into the concert years of the 1970s,” Edwards said in a telephone interview. “It’s chronologically correct.”
“We really jump out with some big hits, as well as a couple of beautiful, obscure songs. We have a short intermission and then we do a version of how he did a lot of his ’70s shows in his concert years, when he returned to Las Vegas.”
An award-winning tribute artist, Edwards will open the show with hit songs from the 1950s such as Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel, Love Me Tender and All Shook Up.
Edwards then moves into the hits Elvis made famous in the 1960s, including It’s Now or Never and Viva Las Vegas.
The show wraps up with 1970s hits such as Burning Love, My Way, American Triology and Suspicious Minds.
Singing the songs the man they called “The King” comes naturally to Edwards.
Edwards comes from a musical family and is blessed with both a physical resemblance and a singing voice like Elvis Presley.
“I just got very lucky,” Edwards said. “My voice has a certain tone that is very similar to his.”
At the urging of friends and others who saw his potential, Edwards launched a career as a tribute artist.
“Everywhere I went, especially after I finished college, people told me I look a lot like Elvis,” Edwards said. “I didn’t know how to react to that.”
Edwards finished college at the urging of his parents while he investigated how one could break into the Elvis tribute business.
“Eventually I got enough reaction that I thought this is something I might want to look into,” Edwards said. “I had people who had been doing this for years tell me I had a great look and I might want to think about it.”
Edwards was told the best way to break in was to enter an Elvis tribute performer contest, so he entered one in Lake Jackson, Texas in 2002 — and won.
Edwards won another contest after that and was soon offered a chance to perform in a casino in Oregon, and he was on his way.
“It kind of just shot off for me really quick.”
While he had the look and the voice for the role, Edwards studied hours of video to get the Elvis moves down pat.
“I looked at hours and hours of footage to break down his moves and understand what he did,” Edwards explained. “I would sit down and analyze it.”
“It’s just like any job, you want to put in the time. To me it was about trying to replicate it as exactly as possible.”
That hard work and commitment to the role had paid off.
Edwards is a two-time champion of two of the biggest Elvis contests at the Isle of Capri and Potawatomi, and placed in the top three in the Ultimate Elvis contest in Memphis for three consecutive years.
During Elvis Week 2013, Edwards became the only tribute artist since 1977 granted permission by Elvis Presley Enterprises to perform his show on the estate grounds of Graceland.
Edwards makes regular appearances at Las Vegas, and has taken his show to Europe, Japan, Chile and Australia.
Edwards has also appeared on Monday Night Football, the soap opera The Young the The Restless and other TV shows and commercials.
Edwards understands there is a certain responsibility that comes with being an Elvis tribute artist, given his popularity and the affection in which he is held by die-hard fans.
“I think for me, being such a die-hard fan, I probably know as much as anyone about him,” Edwards said. “Ever since I was a kid I have read everything about Elvis that I could, watched everything that I could.”
In addition to bringing the look and sound of Elvis to the stage, Edwards attempts to educate people about The King by sharing stories he has heard about the man and his music.
For example, the hit Are You Lonesome Tonight, is the only song manager Col. Parker ever asked Elvis to record. The song was a favourite of the Colonel and his wife.
Nearly 40 years after Elvis’ death, the man’s music and memory endure.
“Elvis was one of the most unique individuals there ever was, and charismatic,” Edwards said. “For me, it’s about getting out there and trying to bring honesty to my show, and to bring honour to him.”