Friday, July 25, 2014

Channeling Elvis

Shawn Klush brings his Elvis Presley tribute show to Theatre at Lackawanna College for Pittston Library benefit

April 12. 2014 2:37PM
By Joe Healey

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Long live the King.

That’s the way Pittston native and Elvis Presley tribute performer Shawn Klush sees it.

Shawn Klush, featuring Elvis Presley’s very own backup singers the Sweet Inspirations and the Stamps Quartet with Ed Enoch, will play a benefit show for the Pittston Memorial Library called Shawn Klush: The World’s Greatest Elvis at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 26, at the Theatre at Lackawanna College.

“We’re keeping his memory alive every time we perform,” Klush said.

For the benefit, Klush promises Elvis’ pop songs, along with some gospel, country and, of course, good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll.

Klush said he’ll do anything he can to support his hometown.

“My cousin is the mayor, my father was involved in the Pittston community, my mother is too,” he said. “It’s part of who I am. It’s where I’m from.”

Both Klush and Estelle Brown, of Sweet Inspirations, Elvis’ actual backup band that is performing with Klush, were weary, just having finished several dates in Australia. He said 27 hours on an airplane takes a lot out of you. “I’m just so glad to be back home.”

In an interview last week, Klush spoke about Elvis’ film career. He said Elvis originally liked the idea of going to Hollywood and acting in movies. But Klush said Elvis never really got the roles and recognition he deserved.

“Hollywood wasn’t ready for Elvis and Elvis wasn’t ready for Hollywood,” Klush said. “He was a cash cow for other people and he eventually became disgusted with Hollywood.”

That’s when Elivs put making and performing music back on the front burner, Klush said. And that period, from 1969 to the mid-1970s, was his one his most productive.

During a three-week session in 1969, Presley pumped out 52 songs including some of his greatest hits such as “In the Ghetto,” “Kentucky Rain,” and “Suspicious Minds.”

And from July of 1969 to December of 1976, he performed 857 sold-out shows in Las Vegas at the International Hotel, which became the Las Vegas Hilton. He often did two concerts a day, one in the afternoon and one at midnight.

“To this day in Las Vegas, he still holds the record,” Klush said. “That’s over Sinatra, Streisand, (Tom) Jones,” he said. “They couldn’t do what he did.”

Klush will be appearing with the renowned Stamps Quartet and the Sweet Inspirations. The Stamps Quartet recorded and toured with Elvis Presley from 1971 until his death in 1977 and the Sweet Inspirations were Presley’s backup singers for more than 1000 shows.

Klush is considered to be the world’s top professional Elvis tribute artist.

He has performed with Elvis’ closest friends, musicians and singers such as JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, the Jordanaires, the Imperials, DJ Fontana, Charlie Hodge, Jerry Scheff, the Sweet Inspirations, Joe Guercio, Jerry Schilling and Joe Esposito. He portrayed Elvis in the TV miniseries “Shake, Rattle and Roll” which aired on CBS and VH1.

And on August 16, 2007, on the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ passing, Klush was named the first ever “Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist” by Elvis Presley Enterprises in Memphis.

He’s performed his act across the world. In 2010, Klush began headlining an annual event at the Las Vegas Hilton called The Las Vegas Elvis Fest (Heart of the King) in a show called “Elvis! That’s the Way it Was.”

Throughtout the 20-minute interview, Klush would break into short refrains from Elvis songs, almost as if he couldn’t help it. Elvis’ inspiration is apparant.

Estelle Brown, a member of Sweet Inspirations, said in an interview from her California home that Klush is as close to Elvis as it gets.

“Elvis was the perfect gentleman,” she said. “He loved people and people loved him. Shawn is the closest to Elvis I’ve ever seen.”

She said his his hair, his looks, his voice, his mannorisms, even the way he dances and shakes his hips, is all Elvis.

Brown said libraries are a vital part of the community and is happy to help out the hometown library of her good friend, Klush.

Brown grew up in Harlem. She attended PS 68 and then George Washington High School in New York City and often used the city’s library system for school. She began singing at an early age, especially in her church. She sang in the choir of the New Covenant Temple of the United Holy Church and her favorite hymn was “Amazing Grace.”

“I still love singing that song,” she said. “We sing that on the show now with Shawn.”

A limited number of VIP seats are available Klush’s show in Scranton. VIP tickets include choice seating, a pre-show meet and greet, photo and autograph opportunities, hors d’oeuvres and complimentary beverages. VIP tickets are $85.50.

Tickets for all other seats are $49.50. Ticket prices do not include convenience or handling fees. Tickets are available in-person at The Theater at Lackawanna College Box Office in Angeli Hall, Monday through Friday, from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are also available online at or by phone at (570) 955-1455.

The theatre is at 501 Vine St. in Downtown Scranton.


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