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The Gospel Side of Elvis
The Gospel Side of Elvis THE PHENOMENAL TALENT of "The King" Elvis Presley is acknowledged world-wide. There has never been anyone else before or since with his voice, his looks or his presence. But there is one thing about him that is not so well-known and it was one of the many things that first attracted me to Elvis as an entertainer in 1961. The depth of his spiritual side.

Joe Moscheo has insider knowledge and has written a book in which he explores The Gospel Side of Elvis.
As well as part of his private and public life, Joe shared the star's passion for gospel music — it was in Elvis Presley's roots, his heart and
in his soul. He grew up on a diet of white Southern and African American gospel and when he wound down after a show, it would be gospel music he'd choose to entertain friends, family and celebrity admirers.

The Gospel Side of Elvis has eight chapters plus an Epilogue and lists the gospel and inspirational songs recorded or performed by Elvis. There are also 32 pages of black-and-white photographs in this com-pelling book that is a must for any Elvis collection.

When Joe joined The Imperials gospel quartet in 1964 he entered Elvis Presley's life. To Joe's delight, the quartet became one of the backing groups for the Las Vegas shows at The International Hotel and Joe became a friend of "The King" and his wife Priscilla — who "lived and breathed gospel with [Elvis]". Priscilla endorses Joe's first-hand know-ledge in her foreword to the book by saying that gospel music was a part of Elvis and that The Gospel Side of Elvis is "…a wonderful history of his favourite singers, quartets and groups." Joe is proud to introduce you to his friend, "Elvis Presley, the lifelong devotee of gospel music" and to reveal a unique experience of Elvis that glows with spiritual awareness.

As a child, the Presleys attended the First Assembly of God Church in East Tupelo. Gladys Presley always made time for Bible instruction when Elvis was young and religion was very important to her. Elvis never forgot his spiritual heritage. The only three Grammy Awards he got were for gospel music and he recorded more gospel or inspirational music than any pop star ever. On his turntable in his bedroom was an acetate recording of three of his favourite gospel songs specially compiled by his friend and mentor J D Sumner — formerly with The Blackwoods gospel quartet who were Gladys' favourite gospel quartet and sang at her funeral.

Elvis had an album collection with all the gospel greats like Mahalia Jackson, The Staple Singers and The Clara Ward Singers. He would also attend the National Quartet Convention in Memphis and when he appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, he insisted on honouring his mother by singing Peace In The Valley — even though the network didn't want a gospel song. It led to Elvis recording his first album of gospel songs.

Elvis credited The Blackwoods and The Statesmen for much of his early inspiration. Comparisons have been drawn with the singing style of
Jake Hess. J D Sumner saw the young Elvis in the crowd at his gigs but noticed that he wasn't always there. When Elvis told him he couldn't afford to come all the time, J D Sumner told him he could come for nothing. Soon it was Elvis letting J D in to his own shows and the seal was set on one of the most enduring friendships of Elvis Presley's life.

Elvis believed very much in the power of prayer and when Sylvia, one of the Sweet Inspirations, was diagnosed with cancer Elvis took her
to the dressing area with others to pray. He touched Sylvia's stomach and the next morning the tests at the Sunrise Hospital showed the cancer was gone. Although Joe says Elvis didn't see himself as a healer, he was certainly strong on faith.

Two incidents show that Elvis had little time for discrimination. When Sherman Andrus signed with The Imperials in 1972 he was the first African American to appear with a contemporary or Southern gospel group and was given a special necklace by Elvis to show that he was accepted into the inner circle. Myrna Smith of The Sweet Inspirations said that when Elvis made his first appearance in Texas at The Astro-dome and was told to "leave the black girls home" Elvis insisted: "no girls, no Elvis"! No contest…

The Gospel Side of Elvis by Joe Moscheo is out now and is available from all good book shops at an RRP of £12.99. ISBN-10: 1-59995-
729-9; ISBN-13: 978-1-59995-729-6.

Joe Moscheo was born in Albany, New York, to a Sicilian family and as he grew up he'd go to the All Night Singing in Pensacola, on the gospel circuit, where James Blackwood and The Blackwood Brothers and The Statesmen — featuring lead singer Jake Hess and their flashy bass singer Jim "Big Cloud" Wetherington — performed.

Nineteen-year-old Joe was convinced his destiny was to become a gospel music performer. By 1960 he'd got his first professional gig as the pianist with Atlanta-based group The Harmoneers.

Joe later held the position of vice president of special projects with BMI and ran his own artist management agency. He is currently president of MCS America Inc and still travels with The Imperials doing EP fan club events around the world. With the full support of Elvis Presley Enter-prises, he produced the DVDs He Touched Me: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley in 2001 to mark the 30th anniversary of Elvis's death and the recently released Elvis Lives: The 25th Anniversary Concert. Joe lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his family.

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"…I believe that some day we will meet Elvis just inside the eastern gates. My prayer is that God would bless this book and those who read it, drawing them ever closer to our wonderful Lord" — Rev Rex Humbard

"I found this book to be a powerful, untold side of an icon who touched the lives of countless people… This book is a fun, fascinating read
I couldn't put down" — Stephen Baldwin, actor and author of The Unusual Suspect