What images come to mind when you think of an Elvis impersonator? Cheap wigs, bulky sunglasses and jumpsuits? A sweaty, middle aged man performing Elvis tunes on the Las Vegas Strip? Whatever the case, get ready to cast those preconceived ideas aside!
At the ripe young age of 20 years old, Taylor Rodriquez won the title of The 2019 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Champion. Not an easy feat by any means. Unlike your average street performer Elvis, birthday party Elvis, or stripper Elvis, Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competitors are assessed by a panel of judges on their ability to imitate Elvis in the areas of Vocals, Style, and Stage Presence that represents Elvis during the era of the songs being performed. All for the chance to win $20,000 and a contract to perform with Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Taylor takes a few moments out of his busy schedule to speak with us about what it takes to be The King, what made him decide to be an Elvis impersonator, what his future holds and more!
Taylor, every year the best of the best Elvis Impersonators gather together at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest to compete for the Ultimate Elvis title. What did it take for you to become the best and what would you say your biggest strength and weaknesses are when it comes to imitating the King of Rock and Roll?
Every year there are preliminary contests held throughout the United States and internationally. I was fortunate enough to win and represent The Tupelo Elvis Festival. There was a lot of talent on that stage and I was very honored to take the title of The 2019 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Champion. I would say my biggest strength would be my vocals. I never had voice lessons but at times when I’ve performed, I’ve had people say it takes them back in time. So I’d like to think my vocals would be my biggest strength. In the competition you are judged on “resemblance” to the king and I would probably say that’s probably my weakest area.
What’s the dynamic like between yourself and the other tribute artists? Do you guys have turf wars? Like, if a group of 1950’s era Elvis’s were walking down the street and came across a group of 1970’s era Elvis’s, would you guys fight?
Lol, we are all very competitive when it comes to competing against one another, but we are all friends in the end. After competitions or shows, we go and eat with one another, get a drink and just relax and hangout like friends would.
Do you guys stay in character when you hang out?
No we don’t lol, we are ourselves off stage and most of the time on stage as well.
Was there a defining moment when you decided that this is what you wanted to do, and what does the career of an Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist winner look like?
Yes, when I went to see Legends in Concert located in Myrtle Beach, SC at the age of 6-7. After seeing the show, I told my parents “this is what I want to do”.
My career takes me all over the world. Most of the time I’m never home, but I get to see some amazing places!
Could you share with us an experience or two from your travels?
One of my most interesting travels was to England. It was my first time performing out of the country and to be completely honest I was nervous because I didn’t know how fans would react to my performance. Their culture is totally different too so I didn’t want to do anything to offend them in any way. As soon as I got on stage to perform, there was this overwhelming energy that rushed the stage from the audience! They were an amazing audience and I can’t wait to travel back to England.
From what I understand, the winner of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist title takes home $20,000 and a one year contract to perform with Elvis Presley Enterprises. What’s the future hold for you now that your contract is over?
I’m actually now the longest running Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist since there was no competition in 2020 due to COVID. I will continue to perform all over the world, but I would love to perform on Broadway at some point. I have a big passion for theatre so hopefully that will be in my future adventures!