Musician Biographies » Elvis Presley » Elvis's Childhood - Understanding The Political Climate, Early Musical Influences: Hillbilly, Gospel, And The Blues, The Birthday Present

Elvis's Childhood - Early Musical Influences: Hillbilly, Gospel, And The Blues

sang radio church jamboree

Radio was the Presleys’ main form of entertainment. Elvis grew up listening to bluegrass, country and western (called hillbilly), R & B, gospel, and popular music, which, at the time, was big-band music. Later, crooning ballads by singers like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were Elvis's favorite kind of music.

Elvis sang both at home and at church with his parents. He was fascinated with church music. The First Assembly of God Church featured beautiful gospel quartets, or groups of four singers. Elvis would love gospel music all of his life. He especially loved the Statesmen and admired Statesman Jake Hess's vocal technique, but he also liked the Blackwood Brothers. These were two popular gospel quartets that influenced Elvis. It is apparent in some of his later gospel work on the album How Great Thou Art that Jake Hess particularly influenced Elvis's vocal style.

Fun Fact!

In 1944, when he was ten, Elvis Presley stood on a chair and, unaccompanied, sang at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, at the fairgrounds in downtown Tupelo. He sang “Old Shep,” a song about a boy and his dog.

Elvis listened to the radio station WELO, which sponsored the Black and White Jamboree. Mississippi Slim, one of Elvis's musical influences, worked at WELO. He hosted a program called Singin' and Pickin' Hillbilly, which was on before the Jamboree. Elvis went to the radio station almost every Saturday afternoon to see the Jamboree.

Elvis's Childhood - The Birthday Present [next] [back] Elvis's Childhood - Understanding The Political Climate

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