Victor Trevino Jr, of Ft. Worth, Texas was announced as the first-ever winner of the coveted Texas Tribute to Elvis Festival champion for Ultimate Elvis Artist of 2016 Sunday night during ceremonies at Southfork Ranch, near Plano, Texas. The young entertainer mesmerized the crowd during his initial appearance on Friday with a commanding performance of Presley’s 1960 hit, “It’s Now or Never,” as one of 18 Elvis Tribute Artists (ETA) competing.
Trevino has now earned a position to compete at Graceland’s August Elvis tribute artist contest during Elvis Week in Memphis, Tennessee. Seven finalists were selected from a series of rivalry shows throughout the weekend on the Oil Baron Showroom stage for the inaugural Texas Elvis Festival. Trevino won $4,500, a $2,000 gift certificate for a new jumpsuit, and large trophy.
The new 2016 champion has performed on stage in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and the UK. He performs for the world’s largest tribute show “Legends in Concert,” including a residency in Las Vegas where “Legends in Concert” is still the longest show running on the Las Vegas Strip. Trevino has opened for Grammy award winning acts like Boys II Men and Foreigner at fundraising and private events. In 2014 Victor was named an ambassador and given a key to city of Tupelo Mississippi, Presley’s hometown.
Besides “It’s Now or Never,” other songs Trevino chose for competition included Presley hits “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Big Hunk o’ Love,” “One Night,” and “If I Can Dream.”
Festival organizer Steve Horn produces popular Elvis themed events in Europe and decided Texas was the perfect place in the United States to open such a festival. He has merged his knowledge and experience of promoting boxing and soccer (he owns a soccer team in the UK) with his lifelong passion for Presley. Horn brought his own friendly staff from England who were quick to acclimate to Texas.
Two years ago, Horn purchased a Presley owned Cadillac car, the last car Elvis ever drove, as a present for his wife for $81,250. Sue Horn just happens to be a big Elvis fan too. Not typical collectors or producers, the Horns decided to share the car with Elvis fans. “We wanted to give all of Elvis’s fans an opportunity to see his car and the Queens Museum in Beaulieu is the perfect location,” Horn said. “We are delighted they could find a space for it.”
“Elvis began his success in Texas,” Horn remarked. “Priscilla Presley was Jenna Wade on the popular Dallas television program filmed here at Southfork. I wanted to bring some of the world’s best Elvis tribute artists here because with Elvis, it was always about his fans. That’s what I intended to do–give something for the public, the fans—something that would be spectacular.”
What did the fans in attendance think?
“It was absolutely a world class event,” commented Catherine Kelley who traveled over 800 miles with girlfriends from Georgia “because we just had to be here. It was wonderful sharing memories and having new memories with some of the best fans—plus, we visited many Facebook friends that we’ve never met before.”
“Steve Horn has done what Elvis Week in August doesn’t even do,” observed Becky Peace, of Chicago. “He has brought more of the world’s best ETAs and personalities associated with Elvis to the fans, all in one location, than Memphis is able to do across their city. This is beyond incredible and I feel sorry for any Elvis fan that was not here to experience it.”
“The entire TEES Events team were so sociable and pleasant,” remarked Jay Hearne of San Antonio, Texas. “From the moment we walked in, and until the final show, Mr. Horn’s staff members were our kindred spirits, just like good friendly Texas neighbors. Even Southfork’s security guard at the entrance to the parking lot had us laughing. They all shared the good times with all of us. Perhaps our common bond of Elvis Presley brings out the best in everyone, no matter where we’re from.”
“I’m totally exhausted from being so excited and happy,” giggled Marty Wicker of Las Vegas, Nevada who flew into Dallas on Friday. “All I can say it was thrilling and fun. It was a Disneyland for Elvis fans and I took advantage of meeting everyone I could. We enjoyed all the performances.”
Veteran Presley fans, Carol and Burl Nowell, of Wichita Falls, Texas decided at the almost the last minute that they would attend. They came across many longtime friends and met new ones at the festival. The Nowells saw Presley perform 25 times in Las Vegas and other venues. Carol has received four kisses from Elvis from the stage. What does Burl think of this?
“Well, one night we were right up front at the International Hotel and I was writing down the songs he was singing as he went along,” Burl laughed. “Little did I know he saw what I was doing and totally bypassed Carol this time and reached around her to shake my hand.”
“All I saw was a hand full of diamonds pass my head,” Carol grins. “It was one of our best Elvis memories.”
“We are having the best time here. This is a wonderful event,” commented David Szymanski a fan from Detroit, Michigan, who dressed in a white bejeweled Presley jumpsuit. “My wife and I have enjoyed relatives in Texas so we could take advantage of this opportunity.”
“My lifelong dream was to meet Linda Thompson,” Margie Minopi from Phoenix, Arizona offered. “I think if she is kind enough to fly out from Malibu, California to meet with us, then we can at least drive down to Texas for this opportunity. She is my favorite of all of Elvis’s girlfriends, because she was always to nice and kind to his friends and family and truly love him. Thank you Mr. Horn for being the first in many, many years to successfully host Linda for the fans who love her.”
Thompson is set to release a book memoir next month of her life from winning Miss Tennessee to being Elvis girlfriend in the 1970s.
“We kind of knew each other before we knew each other,” Thompson said of first meeting Elvis when he shone a flashlight at her at the Memphian movie theater in July 1972. “We were kindred spirits.”
The seven finalists Sunday included Trevino, Al Joslin, Jake Rowley, Andy King, Di Light, Frank Werth, and Drake Mulligan. Di Light and Drake Mulligan came in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Judges for the competition included Sam Thompson, Presley’s personal body guard and tour advance man, and Ginger Holladay, a singer who accompanied Presley on the legendary 1969 album “From Elvis in Memphis”. These sessions included the hits “In the Ghetto”, “Suspicious Minds”, “Cold Kentucky Rain”, and more. They have also sang on Elvis hits like “Burning Love” and “The Wonder of You”. The Holladay Sisters continued to sing on many Elvis recordings until his death in 1977.
Other judges included Greg McDonald is a highly experienced television, ﬁlm, music executive, personal manager and marketing strategist. His early career featured a long stint with Elvis Presley’s personal manager, Col. Tom Parker, and Charles Stone, the tour producer for Elvis Presley throughout the 1970’s, Charles Stone had the rare opportunity to be closely associated with both Presley and his manager Colonel Tom Parker. Charles flew with Elvis and his companions on Elvis’ personal plane, The Lisa Marie, from city to city each time Elvis went on tour.
Mike Nova from Berkshire in England was the official Texas Elvis Festival Host. DJ Argo, who recently marked his 10th anniversary on Elvis Radio, broadcasting live from Graceland on Sirius XM, hosted an Aftershow Party each night after the headliner performances.
Horn said he plans to bring the Texas Tribute to Elvis Festival back to Southfork Ranch next year.