Young Elvis impersonator from Bernie performs on 'Ellen DeGeneres Show'

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Eight-year-old Finley Watkins of Bernie, Missouri, is making a name for himself as an Elvis Presley impersonator. He has been performing and competing regionally and beyond since he was 5.

Now he’s showing off his talents on TV. On an episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” scheduled to air locally at 4 p.m. Thursday on WSIL-TV 3, he’ll be interviewed by the talk-show host and perform the song “Blue Suede Shoes.”

When DeGeneres asked how old he was and how he got his start impersonating Elvis, he described being on a family trip when he was 4 years old and seeing a billboard depicting Presley and being inspired to find out more about him.

Finley Watkins, 8, poses for photos as Elvis on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, in Dexter, Missouri. Watkins has been performing as Elvis since he was five years old.
LAURA SIMON ~ lsimon@semissourian

“I just felt Elvis in my soul,” he said.

Watkins and DeGeneres talked about his natural hair color, which is bright blond, “the brightest blond you could ever see,” he said.

In an interesting coincidence, Elvis Presley also was a natural blond and dyed his hair black to achieve his signature look.

“My aunt ... luckily, she can make my clothes,” Watkins said of his performance clothes in the interview. “If you want to get them from the fancy store, they can be $2,000 just to get one jacket, then I outgrow it in a year or so, and there’s $2,000 down the drain. No purpose for that.”

Watkins gave DeGeneres a demonstration of a few of Presley’s signature moves, including the lip curl, a dance move he referred to as the pinwheel and another unnamed move.

A clip of the interview and performance was uploaded to ellentube, the show’s version of YouTube, on Wednesday.

The video, titled “A Can’t-Miss Kid Elvis Tribute Artist Performs!” has several hundred views.

Watkins has been performing in the region as Presley and other rockabilly artists, such as Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.

On Dec. 17, he performed as Jerry Lee Lewis with Silver Fox at the Cape Girardeau Elks Lodge.

He recorded his first single, “First Train to Memphis,” and competes in the youth division as Presley in cities such as Memphis, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri. He won a competition in Branson in 2016.

He told the Southeast Missourian in August his eventual goal is to win a spot one day playing Presley in the Broadway musical “Million Dollar Quartet,” but until then, he will continue with school and his music.

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