“My first [love] I would say would be spiritual music … I mean some of the old colored spirituals, you know, from years back.” -Elvis Presley, 1957Elvis first heard gospel music as a toddler in rural Mississippi, where he and his parents attended the First Assembly of God Church. His religious background was strongly instilled in him by his mother, Gladys Presley, and Elvis never gave up seeking truth throughout his life. In fact, it was the Bible that game him strength after she died. For Elvis Presley, Gospel Songs would be his comfort, his truth and his inspiration until the day he died.
The famous Blackwood Brothers also attended that church at the same time and gave great influence to the boy. Later, they would become background singers in many of the studio recordings of Elvis Presley gospel music that we still love today. The greatest thing for the boy was when visiting gospel quartets would visit and perform at the church- he knew them from the radio and to the young Elvis, they were heroes.
It was these early gospel singers that gave Elvis his first inspiration for what he wanted to do with his life. To him, those neatly-dressed, perfectly coiffed gospel quartets with their crisp white coats and matching handkerchiefs were the ultimate aspiration, and always served as a benchmark for what a real performer ought to be.
"Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you'd want to know." -Muhammad Ali
Elvis was considered the King of Rock and Roll, but to his devoted fans he was much more than that. His incredibly rich voice and his poignant way of pouring his heart out to God through gospel music touched the hearts of millions and endeared him to the world forever. To truly understand the King, you must go back before he became the King, back when he was just Elvis Aaron Presley. Although his passion for singing and his strong spirituality have always come through in all his performances, it's his gospel singing that allows us a glimpse of who he truly was.
The incredible way Elvis sang gospel music signifies a humbleness that speaks to people, no matter where they come from- a language of hope and strength that transcends all distinctions of class, race, and economic background. That's why the world will always hold dear the precious collection of Elvis Presley gospel music that we're so fortunate to have on CD today.