Flowers, tributes and mementos continue to pile up outside the gates of Graceland. It’s a scene Deborah Smith and Kimberly Wilson are taking in with their family.
“I just thought, somebody’s watching over us, because we couldn’t have picked a better weekend to come here,” Smith said.
The Massachusetts natives surprised their mother and nieces at Christmas with a trip to Memphis and tour passes to Graceland. For their 77-year-old mother, June Elizabeth Sweat, it was a half-century in the making.
“She had shared with us earlier, that it’s been 55 years, that she’s been waiting to come to Graceland. And when she got in there, she was standing under the sign, all excited and ready to be the in there. And she just started crying,” Wilson said.
Entreprenuer Ari Rastegar spent years in the music business as the former CEO of Capital A Entertainment, working events with artists like the Black Eyed Peas, Diplo, Diddy and Snoop Dogg. He’s witnessed, first-hand, the Presley influence on the industry.
“I think history is going to remember her as being the nexus between rock and roll and pop music,” Rastegar said, later adding: “Some of these new pop stars have used their costumes and their effects, and Elvis was the father of that. He created that showmanship.”
Elvis and Lisa Marie transcended age gaps and generational genres. Adamm Miguest, the CEO of Rapid Launch Media – who’s helped music from artists like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj go viral on TikTok – called the Presleys trailblazers, and said their songs still get used daily.
“Songs just like ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘Can’t Stop Falling in Love’, still have tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of videos that have been made by everyday people and a lot of young people,” Miguest said.
Smith and Wilson saw that firsthand with their nieces, who they said didn’t know much about Elvis and the Presleys before their visit to Graceland this weekend. They got quite the up-close and personal lesson.
“When we left today, I told everybody to just take a moment and think about where we are right now … I think when this goes down, it’ll be one of our best family trips ever,” Smith said.
It’s a family vacation they will reminisce on forever.