The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

NOVEMBER    2006

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.

The People News
Special Report






Elvis Has Not Left The Building

by Alexandra Edwards

Many of our readers will probably remember exactly what they were doing the day they heard the news that Elvis Presley was dead. Known as the "King of Rock n' Roll," his sudden death, caused by a drug overdose,  sent shock waves around the globe.  Although almost thirty years since this tragic event, his name, his music and even his image, is still very much alive today. Every year, thousands of people, young and old visit Graceland, Elvis's home in Memphis, Tennessee. Statistics show that with the $40 million estate, Elvis Presley is the highest paid deceased artist ever.

Since the first tribute to the late Elvis Presley was made in 1977, many talented Elvis impersonators' have followed suit, paying tribute in the form of local concerts and venues or even private parties.  Some emulate Elvis in his very handsome early years, others in his latter years when he had gained weight and grown side burns. Some impersonators need to make more effort than others, maybe having to dye their hair jet black or buy wigs. When it comes to sounding like Elvis, some have it, some don't. All in all there is said to be well over 30,000 Elvis impersonators, not just in the U.S. but worldwide. In fact, each year festivals and

Alexandra Edwards

competitions are held across the U.S. Canada and Europe, to judge the very best Elvis impersonators.

Elvis impersonator Matt Cordell of Soddy Daisy, here in beautiful southeast Tennessee, was first place winner of one such competition, the 2004  "Tribute To The King  National Competition" in Kansas City, Missouri. He also ranked number nine in the 2003 "Elvis Extravaganza Competition" in Las Vegas. Since then, his busy schedule of concerts in Pigeon Forge have kept him from entering any more competitions.

Matt's talents were first observed  when singing in  the "Station House" at the Chattanooga Choo Choo and later at Dollywood. Many in his audience would comment that he looked and sounded just like Elvis. It was not long before he was spotted by entertainment agent Jim Winters, who as a huge Elvis fan himself, easily recognized this young man's talent.

Cordell, at the age of  33,  with his young good looks, did not need much effort to visually mold himself into an

early Elvis. With no hair dye, no wigs, no make-up, he was a natural success, the audiences loved him right from the start. After 15 years of being a big fan and studying all the Elvis moves, Cordell found it easy to emulate "The King." Knowing 500 Elvis songs, Cordell is able to sing anything from  rock n' roll, ballads and gospel music from memory.

Being an Elvis entertainer has now become a full time profession for Matt. In 2005 he

performed from two to five shows weekly at the Governor's Palace, Sevierville and more than 40 concerts on the road. This year (2006) the Smith Family Theater in Pigeon Forge has been home for his weekly shows where he has been performing with the famous Smith Quartet, and the Memphis Review Show Band.

News of Cordell's success at the Governor's Palace soon got back to Graceland. The concerts at that time were titled "Elvis by Matt Cordell."  Officials of Elvis Presley Enterprises, contacted Cordell's entertainment agent threatening to sue if he continued to use the name "Elvis" in his concert billing, citing "unfair competition and infringement of rights." After pointing out to the officials that the Matt Cordell concerts were simply about the music and keeping the Elvis legacy alive, the concert billing was reluctantly changed to omit the name Elvis.

"Matt Cordell Live" is now the title for the concerts but the posters and advertisements make it quite plain to see that he is an Elvis Presley impersonator even without using the name.

With over 30,000 Elvis impersonators/entertainers in the world there are bound to be a few failures. They take it seriously but just don't have what it takes. Then there are those that get it just right. However, nobody can really replace "The King" because he is a legend.

It was Elvis Presley who changed musical entertainment to what it is today. It wasn't just his talent and good looks, but his new approach to the music industry and his fresh new image. Before Elvis, music entertainers were "stuffy," performing on stage almost motionless, wearing formal dress suits. Many will remember Elvis's appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, seductively

wriggling his hips as he sang in his tight pants and blue suede shoes. He was nicknamed "Elvis the Pelvis."

Although I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing Matt Cordell in concert, after listening to one of his CD albums, and seeing the posters it would be fair to say that he made a great impression.

Whether you are an Elvis fan or not, his music was so versatile that it can be enjoyed by everyone.They are songs  that are familiar and we can sing along to. This Christmas season Matt Cordell will be performing  Elvis gospel classics and Christmas songs at the Alhambra Shrine Concert "Christmas Time in Tennessee," on December 2nd and on December 12th at The Miracle Children's Network Christmas Show."

For those Elvis fans planning a trip to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg this Christmas, it may add a nice touch to attend one of the  Matt Cordell Concerts. For a calendar of upcoming events go to:

You can then decide for yourself whether Elvis has actually left the building.