This past August Berklee student Jonathan O’Neal and other Berklee students played at Elvis week at Graceland in Memphis, TN. Each August, Elvis fans from around the world gather for Elvis Week to celebrate the legacy of the King himself, Elvis Presley. Jonathan and his band reflect on the surreal experience they had performing at such a memorable and sentimental event:

“Performing in Memphis was a great experience. Graceland is a very unique place in that it is filled with fans of a singer who passed away 40 years ago, a testament to the impact he had during his short 42 years of life. While it is impossible to perform with the amount of power and grace that Elvis did, our goal in performing at Graceland was to recognize Elvis’ early career and the immediate impact he had on the development of rock’n’roll. It was fun to perform for an audience who knew every word to every song we played by heart. Our later performance at the Hard Rock Cafe on Memphis’ world-famous Beale Street was a bit less daunting, the venue was packed, and we even got a triple encore. What made Elvis extraordinary was his unique performance style, and it was made clear to us that this performance style still captures audiences today.”

– T.J. Pluhacek, Guitarist

“Graceland is a legendary place. I could never imagine that one day I would be playing there during Elvis week, which makes the experience even more special. Elvis was a phenomenon that influenced many and many generations in the music scenario. It’s amazing that even after 40 years of his passing, we can still celebrate the importance of his music and of his persona in the best way possible. I am more than honoured for being a part of this incredible week filled with great music and great people! Thank you Memphis for the hospitality and the opportunity!”

– Sarah Messias, Harmonica

“I knew that I would visit Graceland sometime in my life, but performing there was a totally different experience! The whole trip was completely surreal and I was having a difficult time convincing myself I was actually there performing. I had a great time the entire trip and I was able to make a few stops along the way to visit family and pay my respects to Carl Perkins, a legend in his own right, and take a tour of Graceland before the performances. My favorite part was going into Elvis’ trophy room and seeing the High school yearbook he owned from 1952 which my great grandfather is in. It’s really cool knowing that my family’s history is a part of his and that’s something I will always cherish. I’m grateful for this opportunity given to myself and the rest of the band, and I will never forget this experience.”

– Jonathan O’Neal, Guitarist and Vocalist

BerkleeICE has partnered with American Crew, a Revlon brand, and Elvis Presley Enterprises for the celebration of Elvis Presley through a unique showcase and educational experience honoring one of the most influential artists of all time.
For more information, be sure to check out the BerkleeICE site.

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