Marc Stucker, Rockville, was recently selected as one of 16 finalists to compete in a preliminary competition for the "Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest" in North Carolina. If successful, Stucker will advance to the semi-final competition in Memphis.
Stucker said he has been drawn to Elvis since hearing him on the radio when he was 10-years-old. However, he was initially reluctant to jump into the impersonation circuit.
"I didn't ever really want to (be a tribute artist)," Stucker said. "I always thought of those songs as his, and that was it."
But after years of singing at local functions at during church services, he eventually changed his mind. Stucker said people told him he sounded like the legendary Presley, which the Rockville native said was no coincidence, as years of singing along with Elvis records had no doubt had an influence on his vocal style.
Despite his initial reluctance, Stucker said performing his music has helped him form and even stronger connection to the music of Elvis Presley.
"My aspiration growing up was to meet (Elvis)," Stucker said. "This is as close as I can get."
Stucker said he instantly took to the art of performance. For his show, he dresses in what he calls "50's ish" clothing, and accompanies each song with a brief bit of factual information surrounding the tracks recording. Aside from vocal imitation, Stucker said he has been known to incorporate Presley's trademark dance style into his routine.
"I have been known to cut loose and do some of the moves when the mood strikes me," Stucker said.
The competition in North Carolina is Stucker's first chance to showcase his talent against professional performers. If he advances to the Memphis finals, he will be engaged in a competition which has produced performers who have toured all over the country and been featured on programs such as "America's Got Talent."
First prize for the North Carolina competition is $7,500.
For the competition in Memphis, which Stucker referred to as "the granddaddy of them all," the winner receives a cash prize of $20,000, and the chance to be part of a national legends show, where he'd travel the country playing with various other celebrity tribute performers like Frank Sinatra.
Like Stucker, Elvis Presley Enterprises was reluctant to embrace tribute acts, sharing the "why tamper with a classic?" mentality. However, they have quickly embraced the competition, as it has helped increase the already high number of Presley fans, by introducing his music to an always expanding youthful fanbase. This marks the "Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest's" third year.
Stucker expressed gratitude for the ability he and other tribute performers have to express they love they have for Elvis Presley through their own interpretive performance.
"When you can have that escape from reality, it's just a wonderful experience," Stucker said. "And to be selected by a professional panel, I feel it's given me some validity as a performer."
And while he enjoys the potential thrill of competing at an upper level, Stucker said he and all other performers should be more dedicated to entertaining the audience rather than worry about personal gain.
"I get great joy out of knowing I've done something for somebody else," Rucker said. "When you make others happy, that's a great personal satisfaction. If people leave happy, that's the best thing."