Roby Little first saw Matt Lewis perform as Elvis Presley during an talent show in Lee’s Summit.
Lewis was still a middle school student, and Little was his eighth grade speech teacher. Years later, as Lewis studied to become an educator himself, he told his family he was setting aside his college education to become a full-time Elvis entertainer.
“He was great. He was a natural,” said Little, now the director of Lee’s Summit CARES. “I’m not surprised that he is where he is today.”
Lewis, along with Edward Moss performing as the legendary King of Pop Michael Jackson, performed Forever Kings this weekend at The Pavilion at John Knox in Lee’s Summit. Both Lewis and Moss perform regularly in Las Vegas.
“Forever Kings,” which included performances Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening, benefited Lee’s Summit CARES, a community coalition that combats alcohol, drug abuse and youth violence. Lee’s Summit CARES partners with Lee’s Summit police, the school district, businesses, families, faith organizations and businesses.
“Our purpose is to work together to create a healthy community,” Little said. “By doing that, we’re concerned about drug abuse and youth violence.”
The Saturday evening show drew several hundred audience members from across the greater Kansas City area, ranging from elementary school-aged children to senior citizens who remember when the music of Elvis still topped the charts.
Gary Hisch of Independence says Elvis ranked at the top of his favorite musicians when “The King of Rock and Roll” was still alive. Hisch attended Saturday evening’s show with a group of longtime friends, including Independence Mayor Don Reimal.
“No question about it,” Hisch says of Elvis ranking at the top of his favorite musicians. “I grew up with him, in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, plus I thought he was a great guy.”
Reimal’s musical tastes gravitated more toward big band music, but he also described rock ‘n’ roll as a fun genre that brought out talented performers.
“You’ve got to broaden your horizons,” Reimal says of what drew him to Saturday evening’s show, marking the first time he’d seen Lewis perform.
At the front of the line stood a group of women in their late 50s, members of the Matt Lewis Fan Club. They stood in line two hours prior to the show’s start to ensure they’d get good seats.
Two of the women, Sandy Webb of Belton and Donna Pardoe of Grandview, met at an Elvis impersonator show at the VooDoo Lounge at Harrah’s Casino in North Kansas City.
“Oh, he’s gorgeous,” Webb says, laughing, of what she enjoys of Lewis’s show.
Among the Elvis fans toward the start of the line, a young girl with dyed green hair for St. Patrick’s Day started singing “Beat It,” one of Michael Jackson’s many hit songs from “Thriller,” which is still considered the biggest selling album of all time, 30 years after its release.
Page 2 of 2 - “I really like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson,” says Cherokee Johnson, 10, of Lee’s Summit, “but I would say Michael Jackson is a little bit better.”
Cherokee Johnson has listened to Jackson’s music since she was a toddler, her mother, Jimma Johnson, says.
“We just kept listening to his albums,” says Jimma, who considers herself a fan of both Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.
The upbeat nature of Elvis Presley’s and Michael Jackson’s songs have kept both recording artists popular since their untimely deaths, Jimma says. Presley died in 1977, and Jackson died in 2009. Jackson was briefly married to Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie, in the mid-1990s.
“They just draw fans of all ages,” Jimma says.