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The Legends of Elvis

….the story behind the name

It was no secret that Elvis Presley loved Southern Gospel music. He grew up teething on the Church Hymnals. The Presley’s attended the Assembly of God Church in Tupelo MS, where Southern Gospel and Black Gospel music was heard on a regular basis.

The high water mark of Southern Gospel Music’s influence on mainstream pop culture probably came in the early 1950’s. It was a time when Eisenhower’s America was full of the revival spirit of young Billy Graham, when the smooth quartet vocal style of classic gospel was not far removed from pre-rock-and-roll pop music, and when gospel music was not ghettoized. The Blackwood Brothers appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s national television show, and other quartets were signed to major record labels. Songs like “How Great Thou Art” and “I Believe”, pop gospel tunes labeled by Billboard as “religioso”songs, were reaching the charts. Mahalia Jackson was signed to Columbia and then paired with Mitch Miller to create slick singles. Things were so good for the two premier Southern Gospel quartets, the Statesmen and the Blackwood Brothers that they started their own record labels and bought out several of the old shape-note publishers like James D. Vaughan.

During the turbulent 1960’s, Southern Gospel Music slipped back into a niche music and its high profile slowly receded. Assailed by “Contemporary Christian” music from California – the pop styles of singers like Cynthia Clawson, the folk-flavored introspection of singers like Amy Grant, and even gospel rock bands like Petra – the classic Southern styles and repertoires languished. But amidst all the changes, everyone still yearned for the “old” Southern Gospel Music, its harmony, its message, its sound…this is what “The Legends of Elvis” offer.

Sherrill and Brenda Nielsen had been performing across Europe, performing as a duo when they decided that they should enhance their repertoire. Sherrill wanted to get back to his Southern Gospel roots….thus, The Legends of Elvis was born. All members of this group are seasoned outstanding Southern Gospel singers and all have an Elvis connection. After this new venture was born, Sherrill and Brenda would open the shows as the amazing duo, followed by “The Legends of Elvis”.

Back UpNever have you had the opportunity to hear this much talent in one concert. Elvis was known for hand selecting his backup singers. He surrounded himself with the very best of the best. This is a concert that you do not want to miss. These legendary singers bring back many of your cherished memories of Elvis. Their unique sounds and music styling’s allow for the ultimate legacy of Elvis Presley. They share many personal stories of times spent with the King. They offer an array of music from the original Elvis songs, gospel, pop, to easy listening. This is the closet you will ever get to the unforgettable experience that was the “ELVIS PRESLEY SHOW”. In December 2010, we lost Sherrill Nielsen to the hideous disease of Lung Cancer but his wife is filling his shoes in attempt to carry on his love and passion for Southern Gospel music.

Bill Blaze, one of the most dynamic evangelists in America today, has been called “one of the greatest Bill Blazetenor singers of our day”. The late Elvis Presley once said of Bill “…he has one of the most splendid voices in the world”. Bill was with the Stamps Quartet for 5-1/2 years. It was during this time that he was a backup singer to Elvis Presley. Bill appeared in the video “He Touched Me, the Gospel Music of Elvis Presley”. He is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He appeared in the movie “Elvis on Tour” and in the TV special “Elvis Aloha from Hawaii”. Bill appeared in the Gaither video “J.D. Sumner and the Stamps”.

Sherrill Nielsen, is known far and wide as “Elvis' favorite singer”…this title was given him by Felton Jarvis, Elvis’ producer. Sherrill performed on Elvis’ Gospel record, “How Great Thou Art” in 1966 and became a close friend of Elvis, up until Sherrill Nielsonhis death in 1977. Sherrill sang with many of the famous Southern Gospel Quartets (Singing Speers, Imperials, Statesmen, Plainsmen, Masters V), but is known best for his performance with Elvis and his group “VOICE”. The song, “Softly, As I Leave You” was the famous duet between Sherrill and Elvis. This was a 1977 Grammy Award. His rendering of “O Solo Mio” on Elvis’ last “In Concert” album is remembered by all Elvis fans. Sherrill was inducted into the North America Country Music Hall of Fame and is in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He has appeared on the Gaither Homecoming Series TV Programs.

Ed Hill, one of the most respected men in Gospel music. Ed started singing at an Ed Hillearly age. Ed organized the outstanding gospel group called the Prophets Quartet and this group became regulars on the Gospel Singing Caravan TV show. In 1973, Ed became the baritone singer with the legendary J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. It was during this time that he was a backup singer to Elvis Presley. Ed sang with many of the famous Southern Gospel Quartets (Statesmen, Singing Americans, Masters V). Ed is best remembered for the last voice you heard at the end of the Elvis Presley Concert’s saying: “Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and good night”.

Butch Owens is a native of Mississippi. Butch began his music interests at an Butch Owenearly age having come from a family of musicians and vocalists. After retiring from his first career as a Police Officer for 25 years, he auditioned with the Stamps Quartet and was awarded the position of bass, replacing the legendary J. D. Sumner. Butch became fast friends with all the members of the Elvis family. During his first tour with the Elvis cast, Joe Guercio announced a new name for Butch. Guercio dubbed Butch “basso profundo”. Butch quickly became a favorite of Elvis fans. His deep vocal range gives fans the nostalgia of the original sound of the J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet.

Brenda Nielsen began her music interests at an early age. She came from a family of musicians and Brenda Nielsenappeared on weekly radio church programs and later TV shows. For the past 25 years, Brenda has been busy in the world of Architect and Engineering. Brenda met Elvis back in 1960, designed and sewed some of the fancy shirts that he wore. When Sherrill and Brenda were reunited in 2004, Sherrill recreated Elvis’ group “VOICE”. Brenda is a member of that group. In a lot of the Elvis legacy celebration concerts, she provides the very high voice that Elvis loved so much. Sherrill and Brenda perform also as a duo. Brenda performed with the Weatherford Quartet, the Love Revival Singers and was a backup-singer to Ronnie Milsap, Charlie Pride, Merle Haggard and other great country singers.

Our European promoter and dear friend is Henrik Salomon from Svendborg, Denmark. He and his family held a special part in Sherrill’s heart and life. Henrik ’s love and admiration Henrikfor Elvis and those that worked with him is endless. He continues to support and promote Elvis and what Elvis stood for. Henrik has a Sherrill/Elvis Museum in Sevendborg and has recently opened the Svendborg RockRed Rooms Lounge located at the Hotel Aeroe. Henrik and Brenda have had many conversations about Elvis. For instance, who he was and what he stood for. They both agree that reflecting back on Elvis’ rich gospel roots was the very start of his career. The songs that brought him the most enjoyment were not the rock ‘n roll, but those he cut his teeth on….Southern Gospel and Black Gospel music. Elvis traveled the road from Tupelo to Memphis and then onto the entire world, and we can honestly say…he traveled this road in style.


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