Elvis Tribute Artists Radio

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I often observe groups of terrefic ETAs in conversation, realizing they shared something in common - a deep rooted love and respect for the man to whom they paid tribute - Elvis Presley. LLM has heard from many an Elvis fan, describing how & why they became fans of the ETA - now we're delighted to hear from the ETA, identifying his role both on stage and off, and describing his appreciation for the fans that helped them merit the title "ETA". Expressing those views is my friend Glenn Aitchison, who kindly agreed to write this guest column - Thanks Glenn, Elvisly yours, Joanna

Carol Hunter, head writer for Lady Luck Music, wrote a “Do's and Don’ts” article that serves as a pretty solid guideline to life as an ETA. Such guidelines should be strongly considered in your actions, when in the public eye. Be very conscious of what you say and do. The media seem to take great delight in exploiting any inappropriate behaviour, for the sake of a story. An entertainer’s history follows him everywhere, especially with the Fans. If you want to have the respect of those Professional ETAs who shape the Image of Elvis Presley in a manner that we are all proud of, conduct yourself as a gentleman at all times.

If you want to be cherished as an ETA, then cherish those that matter most………….

The Fans need to feel good when they see you at any time, either on or off stage. They need to feel safe that you are warm and approachable when they want to meet you. They need to feel special, because they are the legacy of Elvis! Without them, life as an ETA would be lonely and unfulfilling. There have been plenty of occasions when the Fans have brought consolation to many a disappointed performer after they failed to make the Semi- Finals or Finals at any competition. They bring validation to our tribute and joy to our performance.

I may be common people………….but I’’m your Brother…………”

An ETA should be aware that great responsibility comes with the title. One should serve the memory of Elvis Presley in a manner that reflects his charm, humility, and good will. It is a legacy that we should strive to honour. Please have the grace and dignity at Festivals not to say anything to the fans or the contest organizers that is not complimentary. They deserve that! Remember that without them; most of us would be nothing more than guys who sing in the shower at home.

Elvis Presley had a Charitable Confidence that existed without Bravado or Arrogance.

Let us be defined by our actions and words. A strong sense of morality governed those actions in Elvis Presley. His respect for others has made him an endearing personality long after his death. Every World Class ETA that I have ever met lives and dies by the same characteristics. They never dwell upon their successes and show consideration to those of lesser talent. The Musicians' Credo of Etiquette reminds one of the fact that they are ““only as good as their last show””. Humility is a gracious and noble mannerism. Fame and Fortune are fleeting, but Class is immortal.

It is more important to walk in the steps of Elvis, than to speak of it.

The question I always ask is that if I was ever to have met Elvis Presley, would he have liked me?

I know that the Grace of God must have been with me when I was observed talking to a physically challenged girl, (whom I had never met before), during my first trip to Collingwood as a performer. I just walked up to her, said hello, introduced myself and entered into a conversation. She loved the attention and I go out of my way to speak to her at every Festival. As I turned to continue on my way, I was greeted by a woman who informed me that someone wanted to meet me. It was then that I was introduced to Donna Presley Early, (Elvis’s Cousin), who had witnessed the entire encounter. She said some very complimentary things to me that made me feel very proud to be an ETA. It was a great honour and a moment that I cherish. It goes to show that one never knows who is watching and listening to the things that we do as ETAs. Your behaviour may have far reaching effects.

Random acts of kindness never go unrewarded.

There are many lessons an ETA can learn from personal experience. I was feeling very uneasy, (as most of us do), when I was about to sing in my first competition. I grew more and more nervous, as my turn to perform arrived. As my first song began, a young Special Needs ETA appeared at the front of the stage, with a larger than life smile and two thumbs up! It was a sincere show of support and a lesson I shall not forget. I was immediately at ease…………a state of mind made so by the comfort of one who I had only met minutes before. I am proud that he considers me a friend. Those of Special Needs look up to us in reverence and your kindness towards them will bring greater reward than words can express.

New ETAs need to be made welcome.

The first time I was featured on a bill with several World Class ETAs, I was a quite nervous. I met a Famous Professional World Class ETA in the dressing room who confided in me that he was nervous too. I was quite taken by his candor and humility. It was very settling, and brought focus to the moment. It is one of my fondest memories of a performance. I left the stage to tumultuous applause, and climbed the long stairway up to the dressing room. When I reached the top, he was the first one rushing towards me from the wings, (along with several other ETAs), with an open hand and a warm smile. It is a form of Musician’’s Etiquette that many should learn to embrace. It is about the unselfish appreciation of another’’s talent. I have been a musician for many years and good musicians are not afraid to share the spotlight at any time. Another prominent Professional ETA arrived that night by surprise and we all deleted a song from our performances so that he could perform a set for the Fans. No jealousies and no regrets. One’’s actions should be honourable……..and they echo throughout the ETA community with surprising speed.

Nobility is a not a Birthright…………It something that we should live up to every day.

I am fortunate to know and be associated with of two ETAs who have been publicly recognized as having the Spirit of Elvis. One is a charitable soul with a sharp wit and a quirky sense of humour who charms everyone he meets. If you are fortunate enough to know him well, he may inform you that he was always taught ““…………to consider your words carefully since you might just be talking to an Angel.””

The other has the heart of a lion and the courage of his convictions. He embraces humility, and is of gentle nature. Much like the Knights of Old, his modern day rescue of one who would become his wife, is as romantic as anything I have ever read and as noble.

They are both exemplary in their soft spoken approach to celebrity. If I did not know anything else about either one, it would be enough for me to call them brothers.

Strength of Character and Courage in the face of Adversity are the Measure of a Man.

So it was that I emerged from the depths of the Arena in Collingwood in 2002 that Sunday Morning, into the bright sunlight, following the Gospel Service. The words of The Sweet Inspirations still fresh in my mind. I looked up to see a familiar figure surrounded by people as he signed autographs and joked with them, amid much laughter. As I moved towards him, with program and pen in hand, I saw that he was wearing shorts that revealed his Prosthetic Leg for all to see. It was difficult for me to see the one who had inspired me to become an ETA, without thinking about the magnificent things he had done in performance and in life’’s struggle. (He would tell you that his situation was insignificant in comparison to other great tragedies such as the ““911”” World Trade Center Disaster). I would not let him see any anxiety within me and he smiled a broad smile as I approached. I congratulated him regarding his performance on Saturday Night in the Arena. He smiled and said it was good to see me. I asked him to sign my Program, (because I am a Fan too), and we said goodbye, since many others were waiting. I turned away and read the autograph as I did.

My eyes welled up ever so slightly. It read…….”Keep the Faith”.

If you are an ETA and are reading this, I urge you to consider that courtesy never goes out of fashion. Remember that you owe it to yourself and those of us in the Brotherhood of ETAs, to act in a manner that reflects well on all of us. We all count on your integrity as human beings, and your sincerity in the respect that you share for the public Image of Elvis Aaron Presley. Your aspirations of greatness will not go unnoticed.

So my brothers, I say to you sincerely………………..””Keep the Faith”.

My name is Glenn Aitchison and I am proud to be an ETA.

PS: It was brought to my attention during the 2004 Peoples Choice Awards, that we as ETA’’s, may wish to have a collective voice so that concerns may be brought forth regarding common issues we share at Festivals requiring representation. Do we need or want a Governing Body?

I invite your comments.

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The ETA community is a small and unique group, made up of individuals who share a common bond in the tribute and performance of the music of Elvis Aaron Presley. We are proud of the legacy that we preserve and carry on. As such, we welcome all of those who bring honour, class, and dignity to the memory of Elvis. It is a brotherhood that one becomes part of as a public figure. The eyes and ears of the ETA world are upon you from the moment of your first public appearance. Your actions and words will be scrutinized by the Fans, the Festival Organizers, the Media, the Promoters, the Venue Management, the Musicians, the Stage Hands, those who were fortunate enough to know Elvis personally, and the ETAs. All of whom do not look kindly upon anyone who brings dishonour to that memory.

You may write Glenn at harmony_cat@sympatico.ca

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