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2011 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Preliminary Winners

July 25, 2011 (Updated)

The following Elvis tribute artists have won a preliminary round of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest and will travel to Memphis during Elvis Week 2011 to compete in the semifinals.

Find out about upcoming preliminary rounds of the 2011 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest.

 

Tim Hendry
Winner of the Elvis FANtasy Fest

Tim is a Ontario, Canada native. He has been an Elvis Tribute Artist for almost 9 years, and calls sports his love and music his life. In addition to performing as an ETA, Tim also plays the drums in several different bands. He has been an Elvis fan since he was a young boy. His favorite Elvis song is "How Great Thou Art."
 


Joe Ramsey
Winner of the New England Elvis Festival

Joe is from New York where he lives with his wife and daughter. He admits to knowing nearly 200 Elvis songs and says that he has been an Elvis fan since he was 3 years old. His love of Elvis and his music is the key for him striving to be the best Elvis tribute artist that he can. In the beginning, he got started by singing a lot of country and Elvis karaoke. Someone once commented he sounded a lot like Elvis, so he entered his first contest in 2005 and has been competing and performing ever since. Joe's favorite Elvis song is "Just Pretend."

 


Travis Allen
Winner of the Rockin' 'E' Jamboree at Oneida Casino

Travis grew up in Temecula, California, where at the age of 12, he began writing and composing his own music and playing guitar, piano and drums. As a young boy, he watched all of Elvis' movies and was amazed by every aspect of him. Travis' dad played a big role in him becoming an ETA. Growing up, he watched his dad perform Elvis tunes for his friends and family. So, when he was laid off as an electrician, his dad inspired him to fulfill his dream as an entertainer. Travis says being part of the Ultimate ETA Contest is a dream come true and an honor. His favorite Elvis song is "Young and Beautiful."

 
Ben Portsmouth
Winner of the Pocono Mountains Elvis Festival

Ben Portsmouth is from England, and lives in a small village called Waltham St Lawrence. His hobbies include singing Elvis, song writing, walking, and socializing with his family and friends. Ben has been a musician for many years, and has performed all around the world playing guitar for artists in the music industry. Ben says he became aware of Elvis' music at a very young age because his father would listen to Elvis. His favorite Elvis
song right now is "Girl of Mine." 

Daisuke Kiryu
Winner of the 2011 Tribute to Elvis in Tokyo, Japan

Daisuke, who's a native of Akita, Japan, was first introduced to Elvis Presley in 1997. Since then, he has become a big Rockabilly fan. Daisuke says he's amazed by the wide variety of music Elvis sang. He wants people in the U.S. to know that Elvis is very popular in Japan, particularly with young people. Daisuke's favorite Elvis song is "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You."

Gordon Hendricks
Winner of the European Elvis Championships

Gordon was born in England, and is the only son in a family with eleven daughters! His sisters introduced him to Elvis as a child. "I started singing Elvis from as early as I can remember," Gordon says. "I used to stand in the road at the age of four with a plank of wood, pretending it was a guitar, and serenading my neighbors!" Gordon worked as a barber for many years before becoming a full-time Elvis Tribute Artist.

Kevin Mills

Winner of the Branson Elvis Festival

Ever since Kevin was a teenager, he has had a love for Elvis and his music, and he felt Elvis was the natural choice for him to emulate. The many genres of Elvis' career provide Kevin with a never ending challenge. Kevin says it's an honor to be part of the Ultimate ETA Contest and to be able to compete in Memphis, where Elvis called home. Kevin's favorite Elvis song is "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Johnny Fortuno
Winner of the Las Vegas Ultimate ETA Contest

Born and raised in Hawaii, Johnny got his start working with another famous crooner: Don Ho! The legendary Hawaiian singer developed a position for Johnny in his self-titled show in Waikiki for over six years. Johnny says being a part of the Ultimate ETA Contest means respect, credibility and a great chance to sing for the best fans in the world, which are Elvis fans! His favorite Elvis song is "An American Trilogy."


Gino Monopoli
Winner of the Ultimate ETA Contest at Mardi Gras Casino

Gino Monopoli is from Toronto, Ontario, and has been a professional tribute artist for the past six years. He appreciates the special moments his career has offered to him and considers paying homage to Elvis a true blessing. Gino says he likes the competition because it is a chance to network and learn from fellow artists and a good way to show your craft to a larger audience. Gino’s favorite Elvis song is “Love Me Tender.”

Jay Zanier
Winner of the Lake George Elvis Festival

Jay’s passion for Elvis started at a very young age. He has been performing the timeless songs for as far back as he can remember. The Ontario, Canada native says he feels privileged to be able to pay tribute to a man who is idolized by so many. Jay's favorite Elvis song is "The Impossible Dream."

Cody Slaughter
Winner of the Tupelo Elvis Festival

Cody is from Harrison, Arkansas. He was introduced to Elvis by his parents, both who are Elvis fans. Cody started listening to his dad's Elvis tapes around the age of 5 and got hooked on learning about Elvis. Cody says it's an honor to be part of the Ultimate ETA Contest. His favorite Elvis song is "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Lee Birchfield
Winner of Ultimate ETA Contest at Pechanga Resort & Casino

Lee was introduced to Elvis as a child by his father. The Washington native became an instant fan and began performing Elvis tributes when he was 18 years-old. Now 30, Lee says he enjoys sharing the stage with other Elvis tribute artists who love Elvis' music as much as he does. Lee's favorite Elvis song is "If I Can Dream."

Elias Jamhour
Winner of the Wintersun Festival

Elias calls the feeling of performing in an Elvis jumpsuit and singing Elvis songs to fans a mutual celebration between the performer and the audience. The Australia native likes to perform songs from Elvis' early career through the 1970s. He has been to visit Graceland in Memphis and was there most recently for the 30th anniversary celebration. Elias' favorite Elvis song is "Just Pretend."
 

David Allen
Winner of the Be-Bop Back to the 50’s Ultimate ETA Contest

David is from Dallas, Texas. His father saw Elvis five times in concert, and so he grew up with the king in his ear. David has been performing Elvis tributes since 2000. Being part of the Ultimate ETA Contest has been a dream of his ever since the contest was created. David's favorite Elvis song is “If I Can Dream.”

Jake Slater
Winner of the Windsor Elvis Festival

Jake lives in Bellaire, Michigan, where he works as an Elvis tribute artist while also attending Northwestern Michigan College for a degree in nursing. After singing at many family parties, his neighbor helped him get a gig performing at a club. After that performance, the calls started coming in and they haven’t stopped. Jake is excited to represent Windsor at the Ultimate ETA Contest in Memphis. His favorite Elvis song is “Young and Beautiful.”

Mark Anthony
Winner of the Penticton Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival

Mark is originally from Australia and says he has been blessed to be able to travel all over the world and perform for Elvis fans. He feels that this helps keep Elvis’ memory alive. He started by doing a tribute to Elvis at a charity event and it soon became one of the most fulfilling ventures of his life. Mark says he is first and foremost an Elvis fan. His favorite Elvis song is "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road."


Ben Klein
Winner of the Ultimate ETA Contest at Chinook Winds Casino Resort

Ben hails from Spokane, Washington. Growing up as the only child of musical parents, Ben has been singing, dancing and acting all of his life. Through the years, he also learned to play drums, bass guitar, piano and acoustic guitar. Ben's father Randy was also an Elvis tribute artist, and he introduced his son to the music of the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Ben says his goal is to perform with as much passion as Elvis did. Ben's favorite Elvis song is "Peace In The Valley."

Mario Kombou

Winner of the Atlantic City Ultimate ETA Contest

Mario was originally trained as an actor, but has now been an ETA for 17 years. He says he's always been an Elvis fan and started singing along to the movies from a young age. Mario became an Elvis tribute artist after being encouraged by friends to get up in restaurants to sing. He had one of his friends make him a leather outfit and never looked back. His hobbies include soccer and golf. He says he is honored to be part of the Ultimate ETA Contest and appreciates the recognition of his talents. His favorite Elvis song is “Just Pretend.”

David Lee
Winner of the Tampa Elvis Festival

In 1995, one of David’s co-workers encouraged him and turned him on to researching Elvis songs. It was at that time that he fell in love with Elvis’ voice and spirit. He says it is very humbling and an honor to be part of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. He enjoys sharing his love for Elvis music with fans that respect Elvis’ memory as much has he does. David’s favorite Elvis song is “Unchained Melody.”

Eddie Miles
Winner of the Ultimate ETA Contest at Harrah's Cherokee Casino & Hotel

Eddie was born and raised in Holy Cross, Kentucky. He starting singing as a child in school and during church functions, parties, and family gatherings. With an early appreciation of Elvis and his music, it was Elvis' songs that always got requested. After several jobs working construction, driving trucks, and a stint in the U.S. Air Force, Eddie decided to pursue his dream of a career in entertainment. He says it's an honor to be able to come to the historic Orpheum Theater to perform Elvis' music. Eddie's favorite Elvis song is "If I Can Dream.”


Bobby Simkins
Winner of the Ultimate ETA Contest at Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg

Bobby is from Independence, Missouri. Elvis inspired him as someone who came from a humble background and became the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He also appreciates that Elvis was a very religious person. Bobby has been married for 28 years and has a 13 year-old daughter. He says being a part of something that keeps Elvis' memory alive for fans means a lot. Bobby’s favorite Elvis song is “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Ted Torres
Winner of the Silver Slipper Casino Ultimate ETA Contest

Ted is a singer, songwriter, musician and actor from Orlando, Florida. Ted was inspired by both his parents and Elvis to seek a career in music. After learning about Elvis as a person, he became an even bigger fan. Ted hopes he can help people relive the memories of when a poor boy from Tupelo, Mississippi conquered the world with his music. Ted's favorite Elvis song is "The Sound of Your Cry."

Pete Storm

Winner of the Collingwood Elvis Festival

Pete is from England and has been performing Elvis' music for seven years. In addition to singing, Pete also enjoys fishing, cycling and playing guitar. He is a lifelong Elvis fan and says it's an honor to be able to perform as his idol and entertain people. Pete is excited to represent the U.K. and Collingwood in the Ultimate ETA Contest, competing against the best Elvis tribute artists in the world. His favorite Elvis song is “Until It’s Time For You To Go.”

Kraig Parker
Winner of the DFW Ultimate Elvis Contest

Kraig is from Dallas and is a full-time Elvis tribute artist. He is married with four children and enjoys writing and recording music. When Kraig was working as a graphic artist, his co-workers knew that he was also performing at night clubs, and they urged him to portray Elvis at an annual party. It was a huge success and he began doing shows and entering Elvis tribute contests. Kraig feels blessed to be a part of Elvis Presley's legacy. Kraig’s favorite Elvis song is “Burning Love.”

Stephen Freeman
Winner of the Ultimate ETA Twitter Fan’s Choice

A former police officer and detective, Stephen began his career as an Elvis Tribute Artist in 1998. His inspiration to become a tribute artist stemmed from Elvis’ soulful commitment to both gospel music and his fans. Stephen’s goal as a tribute artist is to accurately portray Elvis, his talent, and his music with respect. When asked about winning the ETA Ultimate Fan’s Choice Poll, Stephen said, “This is the greatest honor of my career.” Stephen’s favorite Elvis song is “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”