Elvis tribute artist returns for homecoming show
His exploits have taken him across the country as a world-renowned Elvis tribute artist. On Dec. 1, Stephen Freeman will return to where it all began for "Christmas with Elvis."
Freeman will host two shows at T. Austin Finch Auditorium starting at 2:20 p.m.. His primetime event is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The former Thomasville police officer was voted in 2010 and 2011 as the Elvis Tribute Artist of the Year through a poll conducted by Elvis Presley Enterprises in Memphis, Tenn. Freeman, 41, considers this an incredible honor, especially considering the modest beginnings of his performing career.
"Originally, I was just a big fan and enjoyed the couple performances I did for friends," Freeman said. "It started out with private parties, clubs and a few public appearances, culminating with my first major performance in 2000 at Finch Auditorium."
Freeman's first crack at stardom came in the town from which he hails. Born and raised in Thomasville, he became an officer with Thomasville Police Department as his first calling in life. He left TPD in 1998 after buying an authentic jumpsuit like the one worn by Elvis throughout his fabled career.
Taking a leap of faith, Freeman embarked on a change of occupation that has now led him to assemble a cast of characters which includes a three-piece vocal ensemble and the Echoes of a Legend show band.
"The show has really grown. We just added a horn section and backup singers," he said. "Elvis had so many songs. Every performance is completely different. He changed with the times, reinvented himself over and over again, and I think that's what makes our show so successful — the adaptation of a variety of concepts for a family-friendly show."
Michael Hill, who has been Freeman's bass guitarist and photographer since 2003, said Freeman’s laid-back, Southern style has brought him renown from fans, colleagues and band members.
"He has the same fans as when I started in 2003," Hill said. "They're very loyal and he's very loyal to them as well. I've never worked with a performer as down to earth as Stephen and I have a great respect for the man.”
Now that his path returns him to what he calls his "Thomasville roots" after all the traveling and fame, what does Freeman consider to be his most memorable performance?
"The first one that comes to mind was when I did Finch back in 2000," Freeman said. "It was a kind of make-or-break performance. We had $5,000 or $6,000 invested in that show.
"It just kind of grew from there and we tried to build on that. I can remember being relieved at the end of the show that everything was successful."
Freeman anticipates a similar feeling of relief today when he steps on the stage at his hometown.
"I think this is a very important show for him, to be in his hometown," Hill said. "He really worked hard to get back in this area."
Tickets are available at the door for $25. T. Austin Finch Auditorium is located at 406 Unity St. in Thomasville.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.