Cody Ray Slaughter, age 22, isn’t your typical Elvis impersonator. And that’s exactly why he stands out from the rest. He’s young, sexy and super-talented. Slaughter also shares many of the same personal characteristics as The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll: he’s from the South, he’s humble, extremely spiritual and has an uncanny resemblance to Elvis.
Last but not least, Cody can sing, dance and mimic Elvis Presley so well that you may think you’re in a time warp watching Elvis on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’.
In an exclusive interview with the Elvis Presley Examiner, Cody talks about his journey to becoming one of the youngest and most successful Elvis impersonators performing today.
To say Slaughter is one of the best at what he does is not an overstatement. He was voted the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist at the annual competition in 2011 held every year during Elvis Week in Memphis. While many thought his win led to a role in the touring production of “Million Dollar Quartet”, Slaughter says he got the part a month before winning the Elvis competition at Graceland.
After winning the Tupelo Elvis Festival in June 2011 and getting the role of Elvis in Million Dollar Quartet, “my next obstacle was to win the Ultimate (contest) ’cause no one knew yet that I got this part,” Slaughter explained. “Wouldn’t it be cool to knock out three in a row? And it worked out. Then right after the Ultimate, I got on a plane in September and went to New York. And then, shoo, we were off. Eight shows a week, every week, for a long time.”
Slaughter says playing the role of Presley in the musical was “like two years of school. Through it all, I grew up a lot. I became a lot smarter and I figured out… the dos and the don’ts of this business, and this life in general. When you walk away from it, you have a whole new outlook on life.”
Slaughter, who has been performing since age 13, got the thrill of a lifetime when he met Priscilla Presley backstage after the Million Dollar Quartet opening night in Hollywood. Priscilla liked the show so much she came back a second time with a close friend of hers and Elvis’, Jerry Schilling.
Cody modestly remarked: “Priscilla enjoyed the show. I won’t say what she said. Coming from me it would sound stupid. But she was very, very, very nice.”
In addition to singing and dancing like Elvis, Slaughter pays extra attention to every detail of Elvis’ physical mannerisms while on stage. “I would sit in my room every day and watch Elvis on Milton Berle and the Dorsey Brothers show and all that footage and the movies. I would just pay attention to the little things, the little itty-bitty things that I think at the time, people overlooked. When I was starting out I noticed that it’s not all about just jumping around and stuff like that — like “hubba hubba”. It’s like James Dean, Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Dean Martin and all that mixed together and you get Elvis.”
Just because Slaughter is a natural fit to portray the young 1950s Elvis doesn’t mean he can’t pull off Presley in the later years of his career. To get an idea of Slaughter’s range, watch “Mean Woman Blues” (’50s era) and “Wearin’ That Loved On Look” (’70s Vegas era).
Back to performing solo again after a successful 14 months with ‘Million Dollar Quartet’, Slaughter explains his uncanny impersonation style: “When I was little, I always thought the coolest thing about Elvis was the stuff that you don’t really see– his little eye movements, or his thumb. So I would just study it. But you can’t just watch something and try to recreate it. You have to understand why and where it’s coming from. I do the best I can and I have fun with it.”
While Slaughter hopes to make a name for himself in the future singing and acting as himself, he is happy at the moment playing the role of Elvis: “I love doing Elvis and I’ve been playing Elvis’ role for a long time, but at the end of the day, my goal is not to be Elvis all my life. I want to be my own person, an actor, do my own singing and do my own thing. At some point, when it’s all supposed to happen, it will happen. Until then, I’ll continue to entertain anyway I can.”
You can watch more videos of Cody Slaughter as Elvis Presley and find out his tour schedule at http://www.codyrayslaughter.com.
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