Congratulations to Roy LeBlanc who won the Last Chance Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest at the Memphis Hard Rock Cafe! Roy will compete in the Semifinals – Round One of the Ultimate ETA Contest on Thursday, August 11, at The Orpheum Theatre.

Roy is from St. Thomas, Ontario. Along with being an Elvis tribute artist, Roy also performs tributes to Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. He feels very proud to have shared the stage with some of Elvis' close friends and band members like DJ Fontana, Joe Esposito, and The Jordanaires.

Elvis Presley Official Web Site - Graceland Mansion - Memphis, Tennessee

ETA champ Roy LeBlanc at the London City Music Theatre

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

As series and concert organizer Sandy MacKay puts its, Roy LeBlanc, Elvis tribute artist extraodinaire, will not perform at the Jazz for the People series concert Wednesday (2nite) at the LPL’s Wolf . . . “unless he jumps out of the audience.”

Roy has been invited, of course, and knows the horn players who are featured, pianist Dean Harrison & Sandy (whose son Ian has been Roy’s drummer for about three years) well.Sandy and Ian team for a two-drummer setup on special Roy LeBlanc dates. Sandy picked the music for Wednesday’s concert including plenty of Stax (with the pale blue label 45s,  he reminded me) R&B sounds he loves.

Roy was gracious as always chatting on Tuesday and mentioned that the play-and-music show Blue Suede Shoes has him at the London City Music Theatre (the old IMAX) for five dates in April. We didn’t have room for this info (April 7 is the first date)  in Wednesday’s LFP (Page C3) but co-creators of Blue Suede Shoes are Colin Stewart and Chris McHarge. A hit at last year’s Port Dover Lighthouse theatre, Blue Suede Shoes centres on Elvis’s relationship with the wily Col. Tom Parker, played by McHarge. The dramatic content makes it different from the tribute shows Roy plays many times a year, he said.

Roy said that with Ford’s St. Thomas assembly plant (where he’s worked for many years) shutting down, Blue Suede Shoes has the potential to keep his take on Elvis on stage during the week. The tribute shows tend to be weekend dates. There is already interest in Germany, Roy said, which has been a home on the road for other Stewart-McHarge co-creations.

Roy truly rawks & so will the Jazz for the People concert. Whether he jumps out of the audience or not.

Roy Leblanc - St. Thomas, ON

Making his way to the stage clad in leather and lookin' mighty fine, Roy Leblanc surely swept the gals off their feet, had the men impressed (as they laughed at their ladies ogling him) and had the entire room captivated not only by his show as an ETA, but in his cameo appearance as Roy Orbison!

His expertise as a very humorous emcee in venues across Canada and the US, along with his magnetic stage presence, was the recipe that kept him 'cooking with jazz' all weekend long. Roy delivered a well executed and very entertaining performance and managed to shake, rattle & roll the whole room, especially from the second stage (middle of the hall) where seated just in front were 30 of his newest groupies, the Red Hat Ladies of Lachine! The Collingwood & Vegas Grand Champ made them laugh, teased them by telling them he'd "just performed a show in Toronto for 700 of you fine ladies...that's a lot o' red and purple to look at at one gals are red hot! " and won their hearts forever! Even the staff and fellow ETAs were entertained! Glad you finally made it to Montreal Roy, we had a blast!

Recently, ETA Roy LeBlanc brought the Sweet Inspirations to our neck of the woods in Southwestern Ontario, Canada for a week-long series of shows and appearances.  Kudos to Roy, a sincere, life-long Elvis fan who, over the years, has built up a large fan base and consistently generated positive mainstream press for Elvis and for ETA’s.   During their stay, the Sweets were treated royally by the press (radio, TV, newspaper) and by the thousands of loyal, long-time Elvis fans in the area who came out in droves to meet and greet them and to hear those wonderful voices –  once again proving that “Elvis lives” and his talented musicians and singers were and are “the best.”  I caught up with Roy, Myrna, Estelle and Portia in London, Ontario and was absolutely thrilled, as was Roy, to see the huge turnout of dedicated Elvis fans.  Congratulations to Roy LeBlanc and his team for a job well done!   Read on for Roy’s great story below.   Carol Hunter

Hello, and thanks again for tuning in to LADY LUCK MUSIC.  I have been asked to write about my week-long tour in Ontario, Canada  with The Sweet Inspirations. Although there is not enough time in this day for me to write all the fantastic things that happened during our tour, I will try to fill you in on several.

First of all, if you are visiting this website you likely know about The Sweet Inspirations. These ladies backed Elvis Presley from 1969-1977 on over 1200 live concert appearances. They appear in pretty much any live footage of Elvis wearing a jumpsuit, including the most-watched concert event in history – Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite.

What you may not know, that I learned during our tour, is that they were originally the back-up singers for Aretha Franklin; they had a hit record on their own; and they have also backed such greats as Ricky Nelson, Van Morrison, Patty Labelle, Wilson Picket and even Jimmy Hendrix.  My guitar player was in shock and amazement when Myrna let him know that the Sweets did background vocals on one of his favorite songs -- “Brown Eyed Girl.”  The Sweets are also releasing their new CD “In The Right Place.”  This is the first CD by the Sweets in 25 years and it is awesome.

The first question people were asking me was,  “How did you meet them and how did you get them to come to Ontario and tour with you for the week?”

I first met Myrna, Estelle, and  Portia  in Lake George, NY at an excellent Festival they hold there annually. I was sitting in a restaurant having my breakfast when who walked in but The Sweet Inspirations. They sat down at the table right beside me and ordered their meals.  I noticed that a few tables away there were three other ladies sitting together so jokingly I approached the Sweets and told them that the three ladies at the other table were saying that they were The Sweet Inspirations.  Well, Myrna immediately was wondering who, where, what, and how!  After calming them down and letting them know I was only kidding, we all had a laugh, and they invited me to sit with them for breakfast.  Later that day, they invited me to ride with them in the parade but the back seat of the car would have been pretty crowded so I couldn’t.  This was all in the first day in Lake George.  As luck would have it, I ended up singing “Just Pretend” with the Sweets at the finals on the Sunday night, and after the show was over we ended up at the same restaurant again and I asked them, again jokingly, if they were following me!

We had some laughs that night and I told them that I really understood why Elvis would want them on his show. They truly are down to earth, very friendly, very real people that just happened to be talented enough to back the single most famous performer ever... ELVIS!   I told them I would love to have them come to Ontario and perform on my show and they said they would love to do it. The rest is history!

I arranged, with my various agents, five shows over a one-week period to run from December  7 through to December  11, 2005.  The shows on the 7th and 8th were at the newly restored Capitol Theatre in my home town of St. Thomas, Ontario; the 9th and 10th were in Windsor, Ontario; and the 11th was at the large Westmount Mall in London, Ontario.

The shows were very well received by the media.  The TV stations, newspapers, and radio stations were all fascinated by these shows. The fact that Elvis’ original singers were still performing and were coming to Canada to back an ETA in a week’s worth of concerts was too much for their curiosity to handle. I must thank the press in Ontario for all the interviews, editorials, film crews, and air time they gave to this tour.  The best thing is that all the press was 100% positive.  I think they were as excited as I was to have the opportunity to talk to these ladies who were so close to Elvis for all those years. The shows were all well attended and we even added an encore show at the Capitol in St. Thomas on the night of December 11.

If anyone were to ever doubt the popularity of Elvis Presley, I only wish they could have been at the Westmount Mall, in London, Ontario on Sunday, December 11.  The Sweets and I did a 1 - 4 pm  appearance there that was attended by literally thousands of Elvis Fans from 2 years old to 102 years old.  The Sweets performed a couple of songs on their own which truly floored the crowd.  Then we took some requests from the audience.  A little 9-year-old girl, who as  I later found out was named “Precious,” shouted out “In the Ghetto.”   I promptly asked if her Mom or Dad told her to ask for this song.  She (with attitude!) swiftly replied “NO... That's my favorite song!”  Without any more silly questions from me,  I quickly performed the song for her.

To make a long story short, the crowd couldn’t get enough. They lined up for an hour just to get autographs on everything from Elvis records to old entertainment magazines from the ‘60's & ‘70's. The Mall's event co-ordinator said they have never had a response like this to any event they have ever hosted there. For me,  being a life-long Elvis Fan, the whole week was a thrill.  I was chumming around with the same back-up singers that Elvis chummed around with and Elvis Fans by the droves were sincerely thanking me for giving them the opportunity to see and hear the Sweets perform.

Truly it was my pleasure.  For someone like me,  who has been so fortunate to be able to entertain Elvis Fans for the past 12 years, this week was my way of thanking them for their support.  Elvis Fans are truly the best, most loyal fans in the world.  I know this because I still am one and will always be one myself.

If you have a chance to see the Sweets in concert behind any top notch ETA, I would strongly urge you to go. The authentic sound that they bring to the stage thrills the audience as much as it did me being on stage with them.

Happy New Year!
Roy LeBlanc

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