In its early days as a tourist destination, tour guides would welcome visitors on the steps of Graceland with the line, "This was all farm country when Elvis moved to the neighborhood, but before long the city grew out to meet him." But times change, people seldom play tourist in their own hometown, and it's hard to say just how many locals drop by to pay their respects these days. That dynamic could shift again this week when a Memphis cultural artifact — and one of the Presley estate's most historically significant pieces — returns to Graceland after a 40-year hiatus. Elvis' white baby grand piano — once the house piano for Ellis Auditorium — will soon be installed in the mansion's fully restored music room. Also, a series of three holiday concerts marks Graceland's first baby steps as a regular music venue.
Elvis had long admired the white 1912-vintage Knabe & Co piano. As a teenager he saw it in use often whenever his gospel heroes (and neighborhood record store owners) the Blackwood Brothers put on a show. Cab Calloway and Count Basie had both sat down to its keyboard, and it had been featured in musical performances led by W.C. Handy. The piano was re-sold in 1971 and changed hands many times over the years before it turned up on eBay earlier this year. It's being described as the focal point of a music room that's being returned to its 1960s-era look.
- Holiday King
Graceland's first-ever holiday concert events kick off Friday December 15th at the Sound Stage, Graceland's new entertainment complex, where concertgoers can take in an orchestral performance with Elvis on the big screen. A pair of concerts follow on Saturday December 16th. An Elvis Gospel Christmas show will be followed with what's being described as "an Elvis star-studded Rock-and-Roll show."