Music Review: The Songs of Elvis Presley

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The music of "The King" is alive and well on the Schermerhorn stage!

FirstBank Pops Series presents:
The Songs of Elvis Presley with the Nashville Symphony (Jan. 18 – 20; All ages)
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
1 Symphony Place, Nashville
615-687-6565 • nashvillesymphony.org
Remaining showtimes: Fri – Sat 8 p.m.
Tickets: $30 – $139

Elvis fans young and old, the Nashville Symphony offers an experience you must not miss as it celebrates the music of the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” in high fashion.

Nashville Symphony Assistant Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yanez kicks things off by leading the orchestra in a robust, lengthy, jubilant overture of the most familiar Elvis Presley tunes.

Joining the orchestra is Terry Mike Jeffrey, a seasoned singer and multi-instrumentalist known worldwide for his presentation of Presley’s music. Furthermore, 63-year-old Jeffrey comes with Graceland/Elvis Presley Enterprises’ stamp of approval. Joining Jeffrey is his own band, which includes wife Debbie and son Adam. Together, they seamlessly blend with the orchestra delivering 19 timeless songs from one of the most beloved icons in music history.

A SPECTACULAR MUSICAL SALUTE TO THE KING

Terry Mike Jeffrey

Making use of the original orchestra charts from the official Elvis archives, the on-stage talent magnificently delivers beloved hits like “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Burning Love,” “It’s Now or Never” and the rollicking “Jailhouse Rock.” In the music mix is a collection of Presley tunes perhaps lesser known like “Kentucky Rain,” “The Next Step is Love,” “Bossa Nova Baby” and “Young and Beautiful.”

A consummate performer, Jeffrey raises the Schermerhorn roof with his dynamic vocal range and interpretation of Presley’s material. While he’s not technically a “tribute artist,” there are times his voice is reminiscent of Presley’s. The gracious, lifelong Presley fan undoubtedly delivers a sensational salute to his musical hero.

Jeffrey embraces these songs with a sincere depth of emotion, which yields a few goose-bump moments on numbers like “If I Can Dream” and the powerful, crowd-pleasing favorite “How Great Thou Art.”

PRISCILLA TAKES THE STAGE

Priscilla Presley

In addition, special guest Priscilla Presley — Elvis’ ex-wife and mother to his only child, Lisa Marie — makes three appearances on stage throughout the evening to share stories and memories. Despite seeming a bit uncomfortable in front of the audience, she shares a few tidbits about Elvis’ recording sessions at RCA Studio B here in Nashville. In fact, Elvis recorded more than 200 of his songs in the historic studio on Music Row (you can tour Studio B via the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum).

Priscilla recalls Elvis’ ear for music and his emotional connection to it along with stories about his patriotism and deep religious convictions. Perhaps the most revealing tales are the ones she tells about the stories behind a couple of songs. They include a humorous tale about “And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind,” Elvis’ laboring over “It’s Now or Never” when he was stationed in Germany and an endearing recollection of a beloved horse.

Of particular interest, 72-year-old Priscilla informs the audience of the upcoming three-hour HBO documentary, Elvis Presley: The Searcher, set to air this spring. As one of the producers (along with Elvis entourage member Jerry Schilling), she promises the King’s fans they will love him even more after watching it.

While the vast majority of the enthusiastic audience members were of an older generation on opening night, the music of Elvis Presley transcends generations. Kids today appreciate his music just as much as those from decades past. This night with the Nashville Symphony and the Terry Mike Jeffrey band is a tremendous way experience Presley’s indelible legacy.

P.S., the Elvis Presley wax figure from Madame Tussauds Nashville is in the main lobby of the Schermerhorn. It makes for a fun free photo op, so arrive a little early before the line gets long!

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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