The Art of the Elvis Tribute Artist
Elvis is a tough act to follow, especially when there’s another 85,000 tribute artists in the world that also dedicate themselves to impersonating the King. As tough of an industry as it may be, there is one act that really stands out of the crowd.
Justin Shandor takes the essence of Elvis to a whole new level with his uncannily similar appearance and spot-on vocals. He was named the “World’s Ultimate Elvis” by Graceland and won Elvis Presley Enterprises’ Top Elvis Tribute Artist contest; he’s performed on The Late Show with David Letterman and also stars as Elvis in the on-Strip musical “Million Dollar Quartet.”
If you were lucky enough to already get tickets to his sold-out performance, you’ll be able to catch Shandor in concert for a special headline performance of The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Concert at M Resort on Saturday, Aug. 30.
Even today, everyone still goes crazy for Elvis. But tribute artists have been making a living long before The King’s death in 1977. In fact, even when the king was alive and touring, there still wasn’t enough of him to go around and several pioneering Elvis tribute artists made a great living performing for sold-out audiences. Today, Elvis remains the most impersonated figure in history.
So, how exactly did Shandor get his start impersonating Elvis? Although he wasn’t around during Elvis’ heyday, Shandor was a fan at an early age. He became familiar with his music, movies and, when he was in high school, he realized people thought he looked like Elvis, too.
“I got teased all the time through high school. People always called me ‘Elvis,’” he says.
When he was 16 he was asked to audition for a job impersonating the legend at a local Elvis-themed attraction. He landed the part and the rest was history.
Shandor comes from a musical family so the singing part always came easy. Over the years he perfected his vocals, but the real challenge, he says, “is staying in shape. You need a lot of energy to do this. Elvis had a lot of power on stage and a lot of charisma.” He also explains that singing and dancing at the same time can be quite the challenge.
But despite the singing, dancing and all the effort that goes into impersonating the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Justin feels that to do it well, you need a lot of heart.
Elvis affected so many on a large scale – his music spanned the entire range of American music and he touched so many. I love my job and it’s an honor to be able to do what I do.”