Jason Shelton


The late John Lennon once said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”

Lennon was commenting on the impact that Elvis had on music and the industry. He went on to say, “If there hadn’t been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been the Beatles.”

The 23rd Annual Tupelo Elvis Festival starts Wednesday, and it’s going to be an awesome event. Every year we celebrate the great Elvis Presley, his legacy and impact on the music world. This year is an amazing culmination of performances, events and interviews devoted to The King.

Elvis was no doubt shaped by his upbringing in Tupelo. With a guitar his mother purchased at Tupelo Hardware, young Elvis learned to play music that would eventually change the world. From the musicians in Shake Rag to Sundays at the Assembly of God Church, Elvis’s musical foundation was a myriad of profound sounds and styles.

His childhood in Tupelo, in my opinion, influenced his cultural range of music, including rock, gospel, blues and patriotic. His style was so original and unique that he reached a wide range of fans, selling an estimated 1 billion records, more than anyone in history.

Starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday at BancorpSouth Arena, fans will come together for the Opening Night Showcase with host Tom Brown and the Elvis Tribute Artists. And let me tell you, if you have never seen performances by the Elvis Tribute Artists, you must!

Experiencing these talented ETAs on stage is like nothing you have seen before! Their sound, their onstage presence – it’s like going back in time and seeing an Elvis concert.

Thursday is packed with events, including a youth workshop and competition, and both an afternoon and evening concert.

Friday is where you’ll really get to see the ETAs in action as the first-round competition begins at 10 a.m. at the BancorpSouth Arena. Afterward, enjoy Food Truck Friday at City Hall starting at 11 a.m. with live music.

More events and concerts follow during the day and evening, and this year UFM Boxing TCB Fights has been added to the schedule.

Running with the King kicks off Saturday morning, and the day unfolds with more concerts, the finals for the Elvis Tribute Artists and the TCB Fights.

Sunday concludes the weekend with the popular Sunday Gospel Concert.

There are so many activities, it’s impossible to list them all. If you need more information and want tickets to any of these events, please call Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association at 662-841-6598.

We all know and understand the incredible impact of Elvis Presley on music, but his positive impact on Tupelo is why this week is so very important. We will have visitors from all around the world who are excited to pay tribute to Elvis in his hometown. These visitors will be staying in hotels, dining and shopping in the All-America City.The economic impact of Tupelo Elvis Festival is crucial to our city and its businesses.

We are in a unique position of being the birthplace of the greatest musical artist in history, and it continues to reward Tupelo. So this week, let’s show some Tupelo hospitality to our guests. Let’s make Tupelo a place that they’ll want to come back and visit!

JASON SHELTON is the mayor of Tupelo. Readers can contact him at jason.shelton@tupeloms.gov.

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