ROANOKE, Va. – Perhaps the closest performance to Elvis you’ll see today is a 21-year-old Southwest Virginia Native.
The youngest in the competition, Taylor Rodriguez, from Goode, Virginia, won the 21st Tupelo Elvis Festival in the town where Elvis Presley was born.
The panel of judges included friends and co-stars of Presley. As his victory song, Rodriquez sang "The Impossible Dream", which he says relates to himself and his dreams. Rodriguez, was presented with a $5,000 check from the Tupelo Downtown Main street Association, a statue of Elvis as a boy from The Elvis Presley Birthplace, a guitar from the Tupelo Hardware Store -- where Presley's mother bought his first guitar -- and a $1,200 gift certificate from the costume company, B&K Enterprises.
Rodriguez’s passion for Elvis began when he was 9-years-old, after dressing up as the King for Halloween. Since then, he’s mastered the legend's iconic looks over various time periods, as well as moves and some of his famous songs.
"There was something about Elvis that really stuck. It was his performance, his charisma...to his signature dance moves. Just everything about Elvis captured my attention,” Rodriquez said.
Rodriguez will represent the 2019 Tupelo Elvis Festival at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest to be held in Memphis Tennessee, in August. Contestants from around the world arrive in Memphis during Elvis Week hoping to win the grand prize of $20,000 and the title, Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist title.
"If I won it would definitely be one of the biggest highlights of my career,” Rodriguez said.