Background: The music most loved by Elvis Aaron Presley was gospel music.

It was also the only genre of music which he received Grammy Awards during his lifetime.

Objective: to Identify & influence the 150 members of the Gospel Hall of Fame electorate

The "how": influence by addressing Gospel Hall of Fame Induction criteria:

  • influence in lead up to annual voting
  • enlist EPE and BMG support for the campaign
  • target major fan clubs, Elvis publications (eg. Elvis World; Elvis Today; Elvis Unlimited; The Man & His Music; Elvis International Forum), Elvis web sites and Elvis web radio shows
  • mail out to 1,000+ fans and fan clubs

Campaign theme: That Elvis Presley, as the world's most popular recording and performing artist, brought gospel music to a global, mainstream audience by incorporating both gospel songs and gospel singers into his recording sessions and live performances.

Supporting Argument

1. Gospel music was a primary influence on Elvis from an early age. His love for gospel music is well documented (see point 8 for instance) and his major musical influences included the Blackwood Brothers and The Statesmen. The late J.D. Sumner, in his enlightening biography, 'Elvis His Love for Gospel Music and J.D. Sumner' (Gospel Quartet Music Company Inc, 1991), stated, that as a mark of his love and respect for gospel music, Elvis seriously considered an invitation to join an unspecified but major gospel quartet after he became an international star in 1956.

2. Elvis used gospel groups, notably The Jordanaires and J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet as backing singers for both his live performances and his studio recordings. And he didn't use them simply as background performers, he drew attention to them and their musical talent. J.D. Sumner wrote that Elvis referred to Ed Enoch of The Stamps as having the best voice in the world … and he meant it. In reference to Elvis and J. D. himself, J.D. said: "He constantly built my name wherever we went, and thus built my ego. He featured me singing low, and sometimes made me sing the same ending two or three times because he liked to hear it. He'd cut up and say, "Folks, J.D. didn't do it right that time. He's the lowest bass singer in the world…He showcased me…"

3. Elvis recorded almost 50 gospel songs and released three critically acclaimed gospel albums during his lifetime: q His Hand In Mine (1960) q How Great Thou Art (1967) q He Touched Me (1972) In addition BMG/RCA has released numerous gospel album compilations by Elvis since his death and during his lifetime Elvis' commitment to gospel music was recognised by RCA releasing Elvis gospel singles at Easter.

4. The only Grammy Awards received by Elvis during his lifetime were for his gospel recordings: q How Great Thou Art (Best Sacred Performance, 1967) q He Touched Me (Best Inspirational Performance, 1972) q How Great Thou Art – live recording (Best Inspirational Performance, 1974)

5. Elvis received a fourth Grammy Award nomination for You'll Never Walk Alone (nominated for Best Sacred Performance, 1968.

6. Elvis' gospel albums are among the biggest selling gospel albums of all time, for example: ¨ How Great Thou Art (RIAA multi-platinum) ¨ His Hand In Mine (RIAA Platinum) ¨ He Touched Me (RIAA Platinum) ¨ Peace In The Valley (RIAA Platinum) ¨ You'll Never Walk Alone (RIAA Platinum) ¨ Amazing Grace - His Greatest Sacred Performances (RIAA Multi-Platinum)

7. Elvis' inclusion of gospel singers and gospel songs during his live concerts brought gospel music to a global, mainstream audience. The facts that Elvis was and is the world's most popular recording artist and since his death has become the world's most visible popular culture (entertainment) icon reinforce his role in bringing gospel music to the general public.

No other major mainstream artist can lay claim to having brought gospel music to as wide an audience as Elvis Presley during his lifetime and in memorium. J.D. Sumner talked about this impact in his biography: "…the deciding factor was that it would give us an opportunity to sing gospel music to people who would never hear it any other way…this gave me a chance to advance both gospel music and my career". "The big difference on that tour wasn't singing backup to someone – it was singing to twenty thousand people each night instead of the five hundred or thousand we often sang to on the gospel circuit".

8. The two volume He Touched Me videos released in 1999 have been critically received and clearly document the impact of and importance of gospel music throughout Elvis' life. Sales of the two videos took them to the top of the Billboard Gospel Video charts, again symbolising how Elvis' gospel recordings are reaching a broad audience Elvis Aaron Presley, his Gospel recordings and the Gospel Hall of Fame Criteria for Induction/Nomination

Basic standard: Nominees are to be judged on the degree of their contribution to the advancement of gospel music and on the indelibility of their impact. EIN comment - reinforce points 3 to 8.

Candidacy: Nominees can be elected regardless if they are living or deceased, providing the deceased individual is not eligible until two years after his/her death: Elvis satisfies this criterion.

Scope of Activity: Nominees must have achieved definitive recognition and respect in their field of gospel music, active in one or several fields such as songwriting, publishing, musician, recording artist, etc: (points 1 to 8).

Span of Influence: Time factor of a nominee's influence is completely flexible. May cover large span or one transient act: Gospel music was a pivotal part of Elvis' musical career and life from a young age until his death in 1977. (Points 1 to 8)

Influence of Others: Degree to which a nominee multiplies his/her influence through others to create an impact on gospel music far beyond his/her own direct individual contribution: points 6,7 and 8.