I wish to thank Rose Geoghegan for her informative answers and great photos. I had the good fortune of meeting Rose when I purchased one of only two remaining tickets available for ETA Gordon Hendricks’ concert at the LAC (Lincoln Alexander Centre) in Hamilton, Ontario. Rose personally looked after the organizing and running of Gordon’s sold-out concert. The evening of the concert, Saturday, July 16th, 2016, holds special meaning for me, since it was the first time I saw Gordon perform, and it was on that same night that the idea for an interview with Gordon was germinated during his post-concert meet and greet. It was, indeed, good fortune that I purchased a ticket for Gordon's concert on that momentous day.
Collingwood ETA judge, Rose Geoghegan, is from my hometown of Stoney Creek, Ontario, so I take great pride in introducing Rose to SIDEBURNS readers. Best regards always, C.M.
Q. What circumstances led to you becoming an ETA judge?
A. For a few years, I promoted/advertised an Elvis tribute artist's shows. My desire was to be involved in the Elvis festival, so I submitted my resume to the Collingwood manager, Rosemarie O’Brien.
Q. Prior to becoming a judge, what were your interests in Elvis and ETAs?
A. Elvis's music fuels my soul. The closest to Elvis are ETAs, for they try to copy Elvis's voice and re-create the image.
Q. Besides judging ETA competitions at Collingwood, have you judged any other ETA competitions? Please explain.
A. I have judged two festivals at Lake George, N.Y. and once at the "Image of the King" contest in Memphis, Tennessee.
Q. What is the most difficult part of being an ETA judge?
A. It is the nature of competitions to be stressful for the competitor. And the judges may also feel anxiety.
Q. What is the most rewarding part of being an ETA judge?
A. The most rewarding part of being an ETA judge is when the Elvis Tribute Artist you have chosen as your winner/representative wins the Ultimate competition.
Q. Please describe a typical day of judging.
A. It is essential to be at the judging site in ample time to fill out the forms with the competitors’ names and song selections, and to sign the judge's form. It is important to be focused and relaxed.
Q. Is there something you would like to see changed about the judging process? Please explain your answer.
A. No. The judging process works, so why change something that works?
Q. Over the years, what is the biggest change in competitors you have seen as a judge at Collingwood?
A. Every year, I notice improvement. The ETAs are ready and hungry to win the festival.
Q. Describe the feelings you have after you hand in your scores.
A. I am fair and confident with my scores.
Q. What is the biggest mistake that ETAs make during a competition?
A. They may forget the lyrics or change a phrase in a song.
Q. What is your favourite category to judge in an ETA competition?
A. Vocals are key. At the start of a song, I bow my head, close my eyes, and then look up; appearance is secondary. In the 50s and 60s, emphasis should be on appearance, charisma, showmanship and movement. In the 70s, the main emphasis is on vocals, stage presence and appearance. Judging the Youth Division is a joy, for they are still learning about Elvis, his music and the art of showmanship, and they give it their all.
Q. What is the breakdown of the marks for a performance?
A. The Elvis Tribute Artists are judged in 5 categories: Stage Presence/Showmanship, Performance, Appearance, Vocals and Full Tribute/Authenticity. Professionals are scored in these categories from 1 - 10 with total possible score points of 100 in the qualifying and semi-final round.
Non-professionals are scored in these categories from 1 - 5 with total possible score points of 50 points in the qualifying, semi-finals and finals. Youths are scored in these categories from 1 - 5 with total possible score points of 25 in the qualifying round and finals.
The Grand Finals belong to Elvis Presley Enterprises, and the Ultimate Score Sheets are used to score the professionals.
Vocals represent 20 possible score points, while appearance, stage presence and overall performance count for 10 possible score points each.
Voice will always be the deciding factor in a tie.
Q. Is there room for a “gut feeling” in judging? Please explain.
A. Definitely. From the qualifying round, I have a feeling of which competitors should advance to the finals.
Q. Is ETA judging always a paid position?
A. The judges in Collingwood have the option of monetary payment or complimentary accommodations for the Elvis festival weekend.
Q. What are the special preparations you have to make the week before judging the weekend long Collingwood Elvis Festival?
A. I study Elvis's music by listening to his CDs and watching his movies and videos.
Q. You succeeded in running two very successful concerts, one with ETAs Shawn Klush and Cody Ray Slaughter, and one with ETA Gordon Hendricks. Describe your role in both concerts.
A. I was the CEO. I hired the artists, booked the venue, the orchestra, and the sound and lighting. I advertised, reached out to all my Elvis contacts and sold tickets. I am very grateful to have sold out both productions.
Q. When you are not judging ETAs, how do you spend your time?
A. I work part-time at Canada Post in Stoney Creek. My husband and I regularly cruise a few times a year, plus we travel overseas to Europe, and recently to China.
Q. How many consecutive years have you judged at Collingwood?
A. I have judged the Elvis Collingwood Festival in Collingwood for seven consecutive years.
Q. Are there particular upcoming ETAs, worldwide, whom you would like to see perform at Collingwood?
A. Yes, a young 15 year old ETA, Riley Jenkins, from Tennessee. He won the Myrtle Beach competition in 2017 at the age of 14.
Q. If you were not an ETA judge, what ETA events, competitions, and concerts would you attend as a visitor?
A. I would attend the 3 rounds of competitions: Qualifying/Semi-Finals/Finals, plus the Inspirational Gospel competition and the main tribute artists show at the arena.
Q. What advice do you have for young ETAs entering their first competition?
A. Memorize the song and try to not be nervous. Dress accordingly how Elvis did when he performed the song, and re-create the image by curling your lip, moving a finger, and showcasing your Elvis hand gestures and leg movements.
Q. Does Collingwood Elvis Festival provide an outline of how they will be judged so they can plan their performance based on expectations?
A. Yes, there is a Judging Manual that the ETAs should read to become aware of the rules of the competition.
Q. How does a win at Collingwood further an ETA’s career?
A. The Collingwood Grand Finals are considered to be a Qualifying Round of Competition for the UETAC. The winner of the Grand Finals is a fast tracked to the Semi-Finals in the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest held each August in Memphis, TN.
Q. What special personal qualities do you possess that make you a good judge?
A. I listen to each song for Elvis's voice/tone, plus I look for charisma and performance on stage. I judge each contestant fairly. We are reminded to be constructive, not cruel. I add encouraging words like "good job", since it builds self-esteem and morale.
Q. Is there a pertinent question or questions about judging that I should have asked?
A. What is your best success story being a Collingwood Judge? How satisfied are you being on the Elvis Judging Panel?
Q. How would you answer your question(s)?
A. In 2012, our judging panel chose Ben Portsmouth from the UK as our winner/representative and he won the Ultimate title in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2017, our judging panel chose Gordon Hendricks from the UK as our winner/representative and he won the Ultimate title in Memphis, Tennessee.
I want to be involved in the Elvis industry because I am a fan. From his Deep South humble beginnings to fame and fortune, Elvis always remembered his struggles and southern roots. Forty plus years since his passing, Elvis is still celebrated worldwide in festivals that re-create, remember, and pay tribute to his life and music. I am honoured and feel fortunate to be a part of the judging team. I do not take it for granted, for it is by invitation only.
Mahoney: Hamilton's ultimate fan brings the ultimate Elvis show to Carmen's by Jeff Mahoney, Hamilton Spectator, April 9, 2014.