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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Gospel honour for Elvis
Elvis Presley performing in 1973
The legendary king of rock 'n' roll Elvis Presley has become one of the latest entrants into a Hall of Fame for singers of gospel music.

The Gospel Music Association (GMA) has announced that Presley is among a handful of artists and groups to make it to their Hall of Fame.

It is said to be just recognition of the rock and movie star's love affair with gospel music.

And it marks the first time an artist has appeared in the hall of fame of three different music genres.

Elvis will take his place together with Doris Akers, Wendy Bagwell & The Sunliters, Keith Green, Kurt Kaiser, Larry Norman, The Rambos and Albertina Walker.

"This year's class of inductees is outstanding and represents the wide diversity and musical heritage of Christian and gospel music," said Frank Breeden, president of the GMA.

Gospel roots

Presley, who achieved icon status as both singer and movie star, is already a member of the halls of fame for rock 'n' roll and country music.

The star, who died in 1977 aged 42, had genuine gospel roots and frequently included gospel numbers in his stage shows.

He usually worked with gospel quartets, starting with the Jordanaires and his personal background was linked with the church.

Elvis had strong gospel roots

The singer was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and was raised a Pentecostal in the Assemblies of God.

After his family moved to Memphis, Presley appeared regularly at Ellis Auditorium to join the singing of harmony-filled gospel songs.

He admired leading gospel singers and friends have said he took records by artists such as the Golden Gate Quartet, wherever he travelled.

Although Presley achieved fame for his pelvis-wiggling rock performances, there are some who believe he may have swapped the rock limelight for a career in gospel.

Hound Dog

Music historian Charles Wolfe wrote in his essay Presley and the Gospel Tradition, that the star considered joining a gospel quartet in the 1950s.

"The fact that Presley, while starting to change the face of American popular music with his new rock music, would even seriously consider an invitation to join a major gospel group suggests how much gospel music counted in his values at the time," wrote Wolfe in the Elvis Reader.

Elvis rose to fame in 1956

Whilst many fans remember Presley's number one hits such as Hound Dog and Suspicious Minds, he made more than 50 gospel music recordings.

Among the hits were He Touched Me, How Great Thou Art and Peace in the Valley.

It is ironic that Presley, whose millions of adoring fans have made a virtual religion out of his life and music, should be given this new accolade.

The GMA will hold a special induction ceremony for the new entrants in November.

See also:

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Elvis: The way he was
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