Elvis ‘Priestley’ makes his return to Norwich
Andy Kelso, a former Anglican vicar in Norwich who hit the national headlines with his unique Elvis Presley tribute act, will be back in the city on Saturday, May 20, with “the very best of Elvis with rock, ballad and gospel songs.” Mike Wiltshire reports.
Andy Kelso’s own story is remarkable in that he survived a near-fatal 75mph motorcycle accident at 19 which caused him to pray for the first time in his life.
Later, Andy trained as an actor and ran his own theatre company, putting on London shows. Then he felt the call to train for Christian ministry and was a vicar for 25 years, mainly in tough council estates. For four years he ministered at Hellesdon where he took over a rundown church and slowly built it up to be a vibrant fellowship.
Today, father-of-five Andy, lives in Worcester where he was Chaplain to Worcester Warriors Rugby Club. His Cornish-born wife, Charm, is a clinical nurse specialising in palliative care.
Looking forward to his Norwich show in May, Andy says: “I want everyone to have a great evening enjoying the best of Elvis - and hopefully dancing! I’m able to share a little of Elvis’ journey in between songs and also share how some of his journey and mine were the same. It will definitely be a night to remember!”
After Yorkshire-born Andy retired from parish ministry in 2009, he prayed for 15 months for God’s direction as he walked his dogs in the woods and fields. “Out of the blue, I felt God say, ‘Take Elvis to the churches.’ ”
Andy, a gifted singer, admits he was “terrified” but leaders and friends at his last church encouraged him to put on a packed-out launch concert in 2011. He was amazed by the positive response – “it’s been amazing and very humbling.”
Since then he has been all over the UK – “it’s been a thrilling journey to connect with those who normally never go to church!”
He finds the Gospel songs “really touch hearts” as he weaves in stories about his own troubled childhood and teenage years.
“I think people don’t realise that Elvis loved his gospel songs so much. My whole desire is to build bridges with people and Elvis, I believe, is a fantastic link.
“When you listen to Elvis’ gospel songs, they’re just so from-the-heart and they really seem to speak to people. It’s true that for many years he went far away from his Christian roots but he never stopped believing the basics of Christianity.”
Andy, who has been dubbed ‘Elvis Priestley’ in newspaper headlines, will be appearing at The Talk entertainment centre on Oak Street, Norwich, NR3 6BP.
The nostalgic nightspot is well-known as the former “Talk of the East” and over six decades has featured bands such as Bill Haley and the Comets, The Who and Status Quo, plus artists such as Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton. Cabaret stars including Bob Monkhouse, Leslie Crowther, Arthur Askey and Dickie Henderson.
Describing his show, Andy sees it “as a form of reaching out to people, using the king of rock ‘n’ roll to introduce people to Jesus, hopefully in a way that will be fun.”
Elvis was the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music, with sales of 600 million albums, but his three Grammy Awards were all for Gospel music. In his last live performance, Elvis sang his award-winning version of the classic hymn, How Great Thou Art.
Recalling his time in Norwich as a minister, Andy says: “I was priest-in-charge at St Michael's Hellesdon, in the Marlpit from 1987 to 1990.
One of the ways I reached out to people was to form a football team which was FA affiliated and we had some Christian young men and a lot of non-Christians. We called ourselves Hellesdon Angels!
“That first season we didn't win one game! So I challenged them to get fit with me over the summer because some wag had put a bottle of champagne on my doorstep only to be opened when we won a game!
“We started to win and never looked back and many joined the church!”
Tickets for Andy’s Elvis tribute at The Talk, Norwich, are available in advance at £10 (or £12.50 on the door) from Barrie Lawrence on 01603 898 289 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Refreshments are available at the event which will also feature Trevor Hurn’s popular Drivetime Disco.
“This is a new type of venture for us and all visitors are welcome – it will be a great evening,” says Barrie Lawrence.
Pictured above is Andy Kelso as Elvis Presley.