TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — A hip-shakin' lawyer from Brazil will represent Elvis Presley's birthplace in an annual contest of Elvis impersonators at Graceland.
Diogo "Di Light" Leichtweis, of Porto Alegre, Brazil, won Saturday's tribute competition in Tupelo, where thousands of visitors attended the annual Elvis Festival.
"Elvis is huge in Brazil. People love his movies, especially 'Blue Hawaii,'" Leichtweis said. "Since I was a kid, my father has been a huge fan."
Leichtweis told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (http://bit.ly/1Hj0Yy8) that he visited Graceland in 2006 and has been performing as the King ever since. In 2013, he earned a spot as a top five finalist in Graceland's Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest.
"I think Elvis was a complete artist," Leichtweis said. "He had charisma, talent, the voice, the look. He was the greatest entertainer of all time."
Over the years, Leichtweis said, he's formed close ties with other young men attempting to fill in the King's shoes. They're a unique group and very supportive of one another, he said.
"By now I probably know most of them," he said. "It's like a brotherhood."
After Sunday's performance at the festival's concluding gospel concert, Leichtweis headed out for an Elvis festival in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, before heading back home to Brazil.
"Back home I'm a lawyer, and this is a hobby," he said. "But I took a break to devote time to this. My father — he is an associate at my firm — loves it. Elvis represents the American dream. He grew up poor, but he had the talent and the strength to make it."
Leichtweis' victory marks the second year for an international contestant to represent Tupelo in the Memphis competition. This year's Tupelo Elvis Festival featured artists from six states and three foreign countries.
Elvis Week is Aug. 8-16 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Presley was born in Tupelo on Jan. 8, 1935, and moved to Memphis with his parents at age 13. He was 42 when he died Aug. 16, 1977, in Memphis.
Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com