and Gospel Music
an early influence on Elvis
group of journalists from Asean on a reporting tour
of Religious Freedom and Pluralism in the United States
were taken on a tour of Elvis Presley’s Graceland after
attending a morning service at the Monumental Baptist
Church in Memphis, Tennessee, the United States.
tour emphasised the influence of his religious beliefs
on his early singing career. The King of Rock ’n’ Roll
in an extravagant studded jump suit. From his teenage
years, he had sported long sideburns and wore bright,
loud clothes. Elvis would have turned 70 on Jan 8, had
he been alive. He was born on Jan 8, 1935, and died
on Aug 18, 1977.
the Graceland tour, one was constantly reminded that Elvis
aka The King began by singing at Sunday school in church.
He often attended youth group at the First Assembly of God
church in Memphis’ McLemore Avenue in 1951, several years
before becoming a gyrating rock ’n’ roll sensation. “He came
in late,” said Stamps Blackwood (of the then famous Blackwood
the only second baritone in the 63-year history of Southern
gospel’s famed quartet, became Elvis’s best friend when the
two were 16 and high school mates in Memphis.
he walked into class, everybody would stare at him because
he was dressed a little differently. His hair was different.
He had long sideburns, and he wore second-hand clothes, bright
and loud, a red coat and white shoes. “I spoke to him and
we became friends,” Blackwood recalled. Elvis was born in
Presley family lived in a wooden shack in the poorest area
of Tupelo, and his father Vernon later moved the family to
Memphis. Despite their poverty, his mother Gladys ensured
that he did not turn to crime for a living. A young Elvis
Presley strolling on the grounds of his beloved Graceland
home while on leave from the US Army in 1958. He had bought
the isolated mansion on the outskirts of Memphis to escape
public attention. When Elvis left school, he became a truck
decision to make a record (at the Sun Studios in Memphis)
for his mother on her birthday was a turning point in his
life and it popularised rock ’n’ roll forever. Elvis paved
the way for other white performers to sing and perform what
was then called Afro-American music. As one walked through
the legendary singer’s beloved Graceland home, the audiotape
tour reiterated that gospel music was his favourite music.
old folks at Memphis could remember the early days when Elvis
strummed the guitar to the blues with Afro-American singers
on Memphis Beale Street. Blues music was borne out of slavery
and hardship, and was a form of therapy in the midst of painful
experience. Elvis sought relief by singing the blues as it
expressed love and pain from the human heart.
Graceland tour revealed that Elvis warmed up for recording
sessions with gospel songs, and when not on tour was often
at his home playing his favourite hymns on the piano.
his lifetime, Elvis completed three gospel albums: His Hand
in Mine (1960), How Great Thou Art (1967, it won a Grammy
for best sacred performance) and He Touched Me (1971). These
three albums, along with various inspirational album tracks
of his live performances, are packaged in the two-CD set,
Amazing Grace. The collection not only spotlights Elvis’s
remarkable talents, but also serves as an introduction to
the many styles of Southern gospel.
the mid-1950s, he had become the most popular singer in the
United States. Elvis Presley shot to fame as The King of Rock
’n’ Roll. His vast popularity meant that he could not lead a
normal life, such as going out in public on his own. He was
mobbed wherever he went. So he surrounded himself with family
members and a close circle of friends.
famous Pink Cadillac Fleetwood sedan parked in front
of the main entrance to his Graceland home. When, as
an 18-year-old, Elvis walked into Sun Studios, he was
asked who he sounded like.
don’t sound like nobody,” he replied. And he sang like
nobody ever had, with a touch of the blues.
then, Elvis was not just a rock ‘n’ roll star, he was
also the most versatile song and dance artiste.
escape public attention, in 1957, he bought Graceland, an
isolated mansion on the outskirts of Memphis. That’s when
he started acting. He made 35 feature films to become the
highest-selling recording artiste in history. He broke all
attendance records with his movie Viva Las Vegas.
is now open to the public and has become a place of pilgrimage
for his fans. The legendary home of The King observes special
celebrations and is crowded with Elvis fans during Christmas,
Thanksgiving and around his birth and death anniversaries.
Article, Source: The Star Online)