WINTERHAVEN, CA. Day three was the big day to announce the top 10 semi-finalist who would go on to compete for the $2,500 first prize.
The contestants performed their final song before being selected for the semi-finals where only one point would seperate first place from second place. They all brought their A-game again to swoon the audience with a perfect illusion of Elvis and to convince the judges they were the real deal. Choosing the winner would not be easy, especially with such a talented group of ETAs competing this year.
The announcement would have to wait after the final showcase performance by Dwight Icenhower who is also a semi-finalist for the Ultimate ETA contest at Graceland. Icenhower recreated a 1970 live, Elvis concert. He was fantastic.
The only other time I was mesmerized by an ETA, who made me forget I was an watching an ETA and not Elvis, was Shawn Klush. Icenhower possesses a powerful singing voice similiar to Elvis demonstrated flawlessly when he sang Hurt.
Hurt is one of those songs difficult to sing like Elvis did. It’s operatic with its long, deep notes at the beginning, followed by a brief, sad story of a man shattered by betrayal, culminating into a final declaration of pain with the same long, deep notes from the beginning. Hurt ends as it begins. Very few ETAs can match the power of Elvis’s voice to sing it right, but Icenhower is one of the elite who can. If he sings Hurt at Graceland lilke he did at the Expo he is sure to win it.
The showcase peformance was positioned perfectly on the schedule to remind the audience and judges why we are there and what we are looking for in an ETA. The top ten peformed two songs each and piggybacked on the excitement stirred by Icenhower. Each one one giving their all in a final attempt to mesmerize us all into believing Elvis has not left the building.
The Top Ten (L-R)
- Lloyd Aron Douglas
- Jacob Roman
- Cody Campbell
- Mark Stevenz
- Tony Frietas
- George Silva
- Rob Ely
- Joe Bullock
- James King
- Bill Isca
In the end there can be only one winner and it came down to the top three with 16 year old Jacob Roman winning the prize and crowned Grand Champion.
Roman will showcase the 2014 EP Expo.
The EP Expo was an exemplary exhibiition of talented ETAs keeping the memory of Elvis alive. The producers/emcees Chuck O’Brien, Ryan Wood, and Ace Crye along with AE Productions and the EAS Band put on a spectacular show. Thank you all and thank you Quechan Casino & Resort for making the whole experience fun and memorable.