WINTERHAVEN, CA. Opening event for day two started with King starring Jay Dupuis and Dwight Icenhower. King is a musical journey taking us along the three faces of Elvis with Dupuis and Icenhower sharing the stage and singing the hit, iconic songs of Elvis. It was a fast paced show that warmed up the crowd for the next round of competition.
The first day the contestants were testing the waters and getting a feel for the audience, building up their confidence, and finding the right song. Strategies were being planned to determine the best way to win, then executed on day two and the contestants came out fighting. In a word: STUPENDOUS!
It was friendly fighting, of course, with the ETAs singing their hearts out, making it difficult to guess who would be the top contenders. It was anyone’s game and even the ETAs who were not going to be top contenders sung like they were the winner.
Ronnie Lee is one of the contestants who would not be a top contender, but his performance this night stood out for me. During the first round of the contest, on day one, Lee nonchalantly walked onto the stage and sung with a decent voice, but looked like he was not taking the contest seriously. He appeared more to just be there to have a good time and do what he loves to do: being an ETA. Maybe it was just nerves.
Something changed on the second day of competition. Lee walked on stage with an aire of confidence and a calm, serious expression. He seemed to be lost in thought and not notice the audience as he grabbed the mic, cued the band and sung In the Ghetto.
Lee seemed to drift away further with each lyric completely lost in the song. It was like he was singing for someone else and not for the audience. He sang it like a winner and it was his best peformance of the entire event. After the show I told him how impressed I was with his renditon of the song. He said to me, “I could see Elvis when I was singing. ” Lee was singing for an audience of one.
Barry Stephens was another ETA who’s performance also stood out when he sang Unchained Melody. This beautiful song can be boring if it is not sung right. It’s a tough song to sing with it’s roller coaster of high and low note changes. More difficult is capturing the emotion of the song and making the audience feel it. Stephens sang it brilliantly and beautifully and the audience felt the emotion. He later said, “It’s my wife’s favorite song.” Stephens is in love with his wife.
The night went on with one outstanding performance after another. It was like night and day from day one to day two with no comparison between the two days. Day three would only get better.