Elvis tribute artist donates talents annually to Celebrate the King for a Cause
Tribute artist Kevin Booth sings "Love Me Tender" to celebrate Elvis' 76th birthday during the "Celebrate the King" concert at the Hagerstown Elks Lodge Saturday benefiting the Parent-Child Center. (By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer / January 5, 2013)
He sang so much like Elvis, with such a quality, range and power, that some wondered if he might be skillfully lip-synching.
Then, Elvis tribute artist Kevin Booth left the stage Saturday night at the Elks Club east of Hagerstown and started working the floor, and all doubt was removed.
He was up close and personal with the audience, and yes, the man can sing like Elvis.
Booth, 42, of Falling Waters, W.Va., has donated his talents annually for four years to Celebrate the King for a Cause.
Booth and his friend, Tim McCoy, 53, of Hagerstown, co-founded the event with the idea of benefiting a local organization while celebrating the Jan. 8 birthday of cultural icon Elvis Presley. For the past three years, proceeds have gone to the Parent-Child Center to support programs designed to prevent child abuse.
“We thought we would probably do multiple organizations,” McCoy said. “But to tell the truth, child abuse prevention touched our hearts and we’ve stuck with it. It’s ugly and it’s something people don’t talk about much. But it’s so important.”
Millie Lowman, executive director of the center, said the event sold out of 600 tickets, guaranteeing proceeds of $6,000 plus funds raised through raffles. She said the Fletcher Foundation, which provides aid to charitable organizations, matched nearly $10,000 raised last year and plans to match this year’s proceeds as well.
“We are truly blessed have to have so many friends and supporters,” Lowman said. “Whether people like Elvis or not, this is for the children.”
Bonnie Martin, 67, of Williamsport, had mixed feeling about Elvis.
“I love to hear him sing gospel. I didn’t like his gyrations,” she said.
Martin said her daughter, Marsha Ryan, 51, of Hagerstown, attended the event with old schoolmates and “brought us old ladies along,” jokingly referring to herself and her friends. While ambivalent about Elvis, she made no bones about having fun.
Booth left the main stage and took to a smaller one near her table, popping his knees and swinging his hips. Martin threw her head back and wailed while faking hyperventilation.
“I had to do ‘the thing,’” she said.
Booth provided a walk through Presley’s life between songs. While talking about “the king’s” birthplace of Tupelo, Miss., he piqued the attention of Lynette McCartney, 46, of Front Royal, Va., who attended with husband Scott McCartney, also 46, and friends Doug and Linda Timmons of Hagerstown.
“My daddy was from Biloxi,” Lynette McCartney said. “This brings back the rhythm and blues, and the South is where all of that came from. It brings back a lot of nostalgia.”
David Hoffman, 38, who went to the show with his wife, Alicia Hoffman, 28, said he used to work with Booth. He was surprised the first time he saw his co-worker perform, as Booth had been a quiet guy at work, in contrast to the crooning, gyrating heartthrob on stage.
“I guess he’s always had that voice,” David Hoffman said.