DO focus on your singing skills. The rest can be developed, but if you can’t sing, you aren’t paying a tribute to Elvis.
From Doug Church: DO practice, practice, practice. DO record yourself and compare yourself to Elvis with an HONEST, critical ear. DO study how Elvis said his words in songs by breaking them down phonetically and then reconstructing them. DO sing every chance you get!
From Eddie Miles: DO get several opinions from knowledgeable people (not a fan) about your singing voice. Do you sing on pitch? Can you sing on pitch? If not, you should not be doing Elvis. Elvis was foremost a singer...all the costumes, jewelry, sunglasses, sideburns, looks, stage presence, mean nothing if you cannot sing on pitch.
From Rick Marino: DO learn how to sing as yourself first and master the basics...take lessons and learn basic singing techniques: breath and tone control, warmup exercises, etc. Then, DO learn how to sing like Elvis: study, study, study...and pay close attention to Elvis’ phrasing while learning his songs. It's easy to parody Elvis' voice but it's much harder to really sing like he did, approaching the song as Elvis did – capturing the heart and emotion that Elvis delivered. (for more good tips, see Rick's book, Be Elvis!).
And, sad but true, DO realize that you can have the vocal cords of Elvis himself, but to be a successful “commercial Elvis” you will need to also have a strong Elvis look (either as yourself or with some help). Look at the ETA’s who have been a successful commercial Elvis, and they’ve all had an exceptionally strong Elvis look. DO have yourself assessed and then identify your goals and see if they match up. If you aren’t around 6', aren’t in great shape, don’t have darker colouring, aren’t attractive to women, and/or you have trouble singing on pitch, then being a successful commercial Elvis most likely isn’t in the cards.
If you are wearing stage makeup, DO apply it properly. The aim is to look healthy and not washed out under the lights, and perhaps more Elvis-like -- not to look effeminate, exaggerated, or waxen. Some makeup turns “sick-looking” under the lights too, so study the techniques or take some lessons.
DO pay attention to your outfits. Do they suit you and do they fit you properly? Are they clean, well-pressed, the best quality your budget can afford? It’s better to have one quality outfit than several cheap, tacky ones. DO pay close attention to your footwear and to your hair also -- it’s all part of the “outfit.” Be immaculate.
If you are wearing a wig, hairpiece, or fake sideburns, DO check the quality and realism. There are some great, quality hairpieces out there, and there are some obviously fake ones, too.
Often in a contest setting “everyone” is wearing the standard issue white jumpsuit and singing the same types of songs (dare I mention Suspicious Minds again!) and no-one stands out or is even remembered. DO invest in a jumpsuit or other outfit that might be a little different from the standard white one and DO choose a few songs that distinguish you from the rest of the crowd.
If you’ve gained a few unwanted pounds, DO try to lose them before they become far more than a few pounds and much harder to lose. If that jumpsuit has become too tight, ditch it and get a new one that fits (same thing goes if you’ve lost weight and your outfit is too baggy. Get a new one or have some alterations done).
If you are doing the young Elvis, consider which jackets suit your colouring. I’ve seen some young ETA’s in jackets which made their skin look sallow whereas a different colour would have been much more flattering. Same goes for jumpsuits.
If you bear absolutely no resemblance to Elvis (height, weight, facial features, body build, etc.) – either as yourself or after dressing up as him - rather than trying to impersonate, dress and look like Elvis, DO consider paying tribute to him by simply singing his songs well and entertaining well. You don’t have to dress the part, and sometimes it looks just plain foolish if there is absolutely no resemblance. There’s lots of room here for the older singers who want to pay tribute to Elvis and for those who just don’t have the “Elvis look” but love to sing his songs well.
DO remember that there is far more to being an Elvis tribute artist than wearing sideburns, dying your hair black, putting on an Elvis outfit, and trying to sing an Elvis song.
DO keep in mind that Elvis may have been sensual on stage but he wasn’t raunchy or tacky -- and there’s a huge difference.
DO check your jumpsuit and make sure certain areas aren’t visible for all to see (front and back). Look at photos of Elvis in a jumpsuit. Elvis’ jumpsuits weren’t skin tight.
DO let your fans know that you appreciate them. Fans spend a lot of their hard-earned money going to shows and supporting ETA’s.
DO perform as if Elvis was in the audience -- would he be proud of what he heard and saw? DO show the audience the “best Elvis” that you can be, no matter what the era.
In addition to being a singer first and foremost, Elvis was also the consummate entertainer. DO connect with your audiences. Hone your skills so that you have the audience’s attention throughout the whole show and they feel they’ve connected with you also. That was one of Elvis’ greatest talents. From Rick Marino: DO remember that there is an audience out there. DO keep in mind that your audience will remember the first and last thing they see, so make a strong entrance and a dashing exit. DO make eye contact. DO always give your very best effort for each audience. DO your homework and be prepared.
Another tip from Rick: DO remember to have a good time yourself. If an ETA is enjoying himself and is happy to be on stage entertaining, it’s contagious and makes the audience feel uplifted.
In public, after a performance, while around fans, and while in costume, DO behave in such a manner that reflects well of Elvis. Excessive drinking, smoking, profanity, obnoxious behaviour, are not reflective of Elvis’ public image and are not appreciated by Elvis’ fans.
And, as always -- for those talented , hard-working ETA’s out there, who put on tasteful, entertaining, uplifting performances which are a true tribute to the “Artist of the Century” and his sonic talent, DO know that your hard work is noticed and your performances are appreciated and enjoyed.
Below, is a good summary co-written by Doug Church and Nance Fox. Thanks to Doug for forwarding it and for the go-ahead to include it here.