Taylor Vaden

Memphis Thunder Featuring Taylor Vaden (seen here): 7:30 p.m. July 27, Reeves Theater, 129 W. Main St., Elkin. $18, $15 in advance. www.reevestheater.com.

When he was 6 years old, young Taylor Vaden discovered the live Elvis Presley album, “Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite” in his grandfather’s record collection, hidden among George Jones and the Oak Ridge Boys.

“There was the orchestra and drums. Something was different about it,” Vaden recalled. “I started watching his movies. He was a rock star for that time. As a kid, (I thought) he was like a Superman.”

Through Elvis, Vaden discovered old country, new country, pop and gospel.

A King native, Vaden, 30, keeps a busy concert calendar. He and his band, Memphis Thunder, play Elvis tribute shows around the area, including a show on July 27 at The Reeves Theater in Elkin, 129 W. Main St. The rest of the Memphis Thunder are Brad Ford (drums), Scott Williams (guitar) and Todd Phillips (bass).

Though he enjoys playing the music of his idol, Vaden wants to more fully develop his career as a contemporary Christian artist.

“That’s the direction as an artist that I’m headed, singing at churches and worship-leading,” he said.

An example of that style of his music will be on display on Aug. 3 when he performs a pre-game concert at 3 p.m. before the Winston-Salem Dash play at BB&T Ballpark, 926 Brookstown Ave. Grammy Award winner Jason Crabb will play after the show.

Q: How would you describe your art?

Answer: I would describe my art as uplifting and encouraging. With all of the negative in today’s world, I want my work to make a positive impact by using music to meet people right where they are in life, to inspire them and make them feel better about any difficult situations they may be dealing with.

Q: How have you evolved as an artist?

Answer: I believe as an artist that we are all constantly evolving by trying new things and working hard to perfect our craft. In the past couple of years, I feel I have evolved more than ever as an artist. For example, my songwriting has changed some and I have a better grasp on the direction I’m going as an artist.

Q: Who has influenced your art?

Answer: There are a lot of artists and bands that have influenced my work when it comes to the sound and feel of music that I like to create. I also have to give credit to many family members, friends and my wife, LeAnn, for influencing a large part of what I have accomplished in music over the years.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Answer: I would have to say my biggest challenge as an artist is getting people to see and hear who I am and what I’m about. I started singing Elvis Presley’s music around the age of 6, and it’s still a large part of my musical career today. I’m very grateful for it and always will be. That side of what I do has opened a lot of doors for me and is really what got me started in music. However, over the past 13 years of doing music professionally in this area, it has been a challenge to separate myself from that just enough to show people that God has given me my own voice and music for them to hear. I’m finding that balance now and as I mentioned earlier, I feel that I have evolved more than ever the past couple of years in my own artistry.

Q: What does art do for you?

Answer: Art is such a great outlet for people! Whether you are an artist or just enjoy the people that make it, art impacts everyone in some way. Music being my form of art is my passion and where I thrive the most. Having the ability and talent to create it is a direct gift from God. Honestly, there’s very little musical talent in my family, so it had to come from above! When it comes to my art it’s not a “have to” way of thinking for me, but an “I get to” way of thinking. I’ve been blessed with the ability and talent, so I get to share this form of art with other people and collaborate with other artists to make a positive impact in the world with it.

Q: Any advice for other artists?

Answer: For other artists, I would say to always keep working on your craft and keep trying to step out of the box with your work. Stay true to who you are and what you believe in because it will always come through in your art.

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Lisa O’Donnell writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more — weekly in relish. Send your story ideas to lodonnell@wsjournal.com or call 336-727-7420.

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