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Former Elvis tribute artist makes gospel debut at senior center

Kevin Booth was well-received by members of the Senior Center at Girls, Inc.

February 14, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com

Former Elvis tribute artist Kevin Booth of Martinsburg, W.Va., picked Valentine’s Day to give his first performance as a gospel singer Thursday.

Booth performed at the Valentine’s Day event for members of the Senior Center at Girls, Inc. Thursday afternoon.

“They called me to do an Elvis program a couple months ago, so I explained to them I was no longer doing Elvis but I was doing gospel, and (they) said to come down and do Gospel then,” Booth said. “I’ve been in the country music field, and I always felt this calling to do gospel music.”

During the performance he shared his experiences that led him to becoming a gospel singer, including working in the country music industry for 15 years and recording his own music, marrying his wife BillieJo at Graceland in Memphis in August 2007, and his experience as an Elvis tribute artist.

“I started studying the Bible every morning, and the more I studied and the more I read God’s word, I got closer and closer and closer to him,” he said. “There was that point where he said, ‘Kevin I want you to sing for me now. It’s time to hang up that jump suit.’”

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Booth did not completely abandon his Elvis act in the performance, singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” but he surrounded it with religious songs such as “Amazing Grace,” “I Can Only Imagine,” and “Help Me.”

He also referenced Bible verses that he liked. There was no jumpsuit involved.

“The only music I’ve ever been able to write is gospel music,” he said. “I’ve never been able to write country music or anything like that, so it was a matter of just surrendering to that calling.”

The event was available to anybody 55 and older, according to Senior Center Manager Kathy Fisher.

Fisher said that Booth did an event for the Washington County Commission on Aging “several years ago.”

“He is just an excellent performer, he loves doing gospel music, and our members here at the Senior Center just love and appreciate him so much,” she said. “It makes seniors feel young again to come out and socialize and have fun.”

Booth’s performance received a positive response from many members of the crowd.

“He’s got a great voice and is a good performer,” said Senior Center member Anna Laub, 77, of Hagerstown. “I enjoyed the show a lot.”

John Carpenter of Hagerstown, another Senior Center member, said that he liked the show’s message.

“The gospel music was great,” Carpenter, 65, said. “It shows that God is still on the throne.”

After the performance, members of the crowd lined up to speak with Booth.

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