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PopWrapped | Music

Tony Roi Is More Than Just Your Everyday Elvis Tribute Artist

Jonathan Frahm | PopWrapped Author

Jonathan Frahm

Updated 10/28/2014 2:41pm
Tony Roi Is More Than Just Your Everyday Elvis Tribute Artist | Elvis
Media Courtesy of Branson Show Tickets
When you hear the term "Elvis impersonator," the phrase doesn't usually leave a good impression on your ears. Almost any tribute artist of any kind have a bad wrap in modern society, wherein most "serious" musicians and others in the industry would ask of them, "Just what's your deal? Why do you try so hard to be second-rate?" To a point, it's almost understandable - the true artists behind the brand came and went, and for sure, there are several people who are out there that are hacks just trying to get a tiny bit of hometown fame and a few bucks to go along with it. However, this common worldwide stigma is blatantly overrated, as people fail to see the true reasoning behind a man like Tony Roi performing just that type of act. Tony is Branson, Missouri's trademark Elvis tribute artist, and the original flavor of any tribute artist out there working today. However, he's a lot more than just that. In fact, the term "impersonator", or even pure "tribute artist", in this sense, is used a bit loosely. In a phone call I had maintained recently with Tony himself, he went out on a limb to stick up for himself and all other tribute artists who do what they do out of a joy towards music and an admiration of Elvis himself.
"It's more about paying tribute to the King while doing your own thing at the same time, and people will come up to me and say 'Wow, I cannot believe my eyes or my ears. What I had just seen was amazing, and it was because you paid such a wonderful tribute to him. It's not so much about being Elvis as it is respecting him, and being yourself, while doing your best to take his music and his performance skills and pay homage to them, you know what I'm saying?"
It is undeniable, though, that Roi has a style and flair up on stage that is very reminiscent of the King's own ticks. As per the voice, that all came along a lot more naturally, with Tony offering his timeless vocals to some best-selling singles back in the 80s, spearheaded by an overarching recording project which eventually became the album Hand in Hand, which ended up going gold. This was in part due to a genius producer who had given his soulful vocals a pop overlay that he called "the ABBA sound" back in the day. Now, Roi is at a crossroads. The Elvis thing is great, and it puts food on the table, but ask Roi himself and he'll tell you that he's aiming to return to producing original music - a goal which has been proven to be more of an albatross than not when you have a tone that naturally is so close to Presley himself's.
"I have the songs, now I just need someone to listen to them and take it seriously. You have people who say 'That's too much like the era of soul Elvis was a part of,' but we have Michael Bublé who's your modern-day Frank Sinatra and people love it! People just need to take rock 'n' roll, and they need to take classic soul, and they need to take it seriously. We can go back to that era, you know, and it's what we're sorely lacking on the radio right now... People want to hear this again, but executives aren't caring. Hopefully one day we see a revolution like we did kind-of with jazz coming back a bit, and we can pay tribute to this era in full while totally showing, you know, 'This guy isn't actually Elvis, this guy is Tony Roi, and I love his original songs just as much as his Elvis tribute.'"
For a bit of background on just how passionate towards music as a whole Tony Roi truly is - he had found his love of music at the tender age of 5 while growing up in Havana, Cuba. He was exposed to a multitude of genres and artists, including, of course, Elvis, that had led him down the path of pursuing music, with Roi having moved to the United States and performing across the east coast. His performing career had eventually evolved into the local act Tony and the Florida T-Birds, where he and his band performed 50s and 60s-style music to wild crowds across not just Florida, but Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia, as well. It was during this era that Tony had found his inner Elvis and started his career as a tribute artist to the King of Rock, again in Florida, where he caught the eye of none other than acclaimed producer John Stewart, who had created and produced a show for Tony called "Legends in Concert" at the Marco Polo Hotel. This kickstarted a real stride of hits instead of misses for Tony, with him having set appearances on The David Letterman Show twice, as well as in the movie Elvis and Me. He toured in Europe and in Asia, appeared on Letterman yet again, and solidified appearances on Live with Regis and Kathy Lee, as well as on the prolific soap opera All My Children. Tony's travels took him from the US mainland to Hawaii and through the Caribbean, during which time he'd recorded his first album, This is Tony Roi, and was found by German producer Jack White, who had founded his aforementioned pop era and helped him in launching Hand in Hand, where he had achieved the height of his international success. Finally, Tony arrived in Branson in the early 2000s, starting the Elvis and More show that had originally began under the moniker Tony Roi - The Elvis Experience. Since then, Tony has won 6 different accolades in Branson acknowledging him for his heartfelt talent and profound prowess. To top it off? He was part of Legends in Concert in Broadway, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Hawaii, and Branson, being considered one of the greatest tribute artists and entertainers around the world. With that said, it's time for Tony to begin to be recognized for his fantastic original tunes again, and at least as much as he is for his Elvis tribute. He's close to having his big break all over again, and with a bit of luck and a whole lot of talent, it's only a matter of time. We thank you, Tony, wish you the best, and send you support from every last one of us on the PW team! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMvvoJ4YjUk

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