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Gerard Mascarenhas: ‘There’s only one Elvis’

Perth-based Goa-born musician Gerard Mascarenhas on what draws him to the music and persona of the hip-swinging Elvis Presley.

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Gerard Mascarenhas finished in the Top 8 at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist (UETA) competition as part of the recently concluded Parkes Elvis Festival 2024.

But the Perth-based Goa-born performer doesn’t really care about winning, or where he finished.

“There’s only one Elvis,” he told Indian Link, with a devotion that was unmistakable.

Being in the Elvis tribute world, with the other Elvis tribute artists, is what drives him.

“It’s a brotherhood – we learn from and support each other to be the best we can be,” Gerard said.

He admitted though, that the experience at the Parkes Festival, his third time attending, was unforgettable.

“Performing for over 55,000 people on main stage – the energy was just unreal.”

Gerard Mascarenhas has already won first place at the ARTC Virtual Elvis competition (Parkes Elvis festival – Undiscovered category) in 2021; second place at the Elvis Down Under event in New Zealand in 2022, and third place at the Penrith Panthers Elvis Festival in Sydney in 2023. He has also had several TV appearances.

So what draws him to Elvis?

“The emotion in his voice. His humility. His charisma on stage. His connection with the audience. But mostly, that he dared to be different – at every stage of his career.”

elvis impersonator Gerard mascarenhas
Source: Supplied

 

Gerard Mascarenhas’ Elvis tribute act

It all began when Gerard Mascarenhas moved to Perth in 2008 for further studies, opting to do an MBA in hospitality and tourism. Late nights returning from work, it was Elvis Presley on his earphones that took away the stress and the tiredness.

“Life tossed curveballs, prompting me to reevaluate my source of happiness,” he recounted. “Reconnecting with my love for entertainment, I stumbled upon karaoke at a local venue. People noticed as I sang, some even suggesting my voice had echoes of Elvis.”

A few free gigs at aged care homes, where Elvis’s music struck a chord, boosted his confidence.

During his free gigs, a band called the ‘Heartbeats’ spotted Gerard and asked him to join, and a few successful shows followed.

Which have been his favourite Elvis numbers?

“There’s too many to choose from, and my favourites keeps changing every day,” Gerard laughed. “Elvis recorded over 786 songs, so it’s hard to pick! Also, he recorded different versions of some of his songs. But if I had to choose one now, it would be Elvis’ gospel song Where no one stands alone. I also enjoy performing Rubberneckin and Don’t cry Daddy.”

On how he mastered the moves and grooves of Elvis, Gerard said it all came naturally.

“I still visualise myself on stage on the songs I’ve chosen to perform for a show, and then just let the music take over on stage,” he revealed. “For the look I had to lose weight, work out, and follow a certain diet – as I do the young Elvis. For the hair, I had to experiment a lot, find the perfect barber who understood, and spent hours in front of the mirror trying to get the shape. Now, it is just natural. I learnt to do my own makeup from YouTube.”

When asked if people are surprised to see an Indian Elvis, Gerard said, “Yes, they are, but people around me have been so supportive. But it’s not just the other artists, Elvis fans themselves are equally supportive of Elvis tribute artists from different backgrounds.  At the end of the day, it’s music, and music has no boundaries… to most.”

Gerard as Elvis
Source: Supplied

Gerard’s carefully cultivated act can be traced back to his childhood in Margao, Goa.

“I was a dreamer as a kid,” he recounted. “Lost in my thoughts, I’d imagine myself on stage, moving to an unseen rhythm, earning curious looks from those around me.”

Perhaps he was being prescient as a child, but his family might think differently. Music and dance were deeply woven into their Goan traditions of course, and the Mascarenhas family, musically inclined, were great entertainers in their community.

Finishing uni with a Bachelor’s in Hospitality, Gerard’s journey led him from cruise ships to flair bartending.

“Mixing cocktails and flipping bottles became a thrilling routine, always intertwined with entertainment,” Gerard recalled. “I found myself working with dance groups, adding choreography to my repertoire.”

He had uncovered a latent skill, which today brings him Elvis limelight.

Elvis tribute artist Gerard Mascarenhas of Perth
Source: Supplied

“My journey from quiet beginnings to centrestage is a testament to the power of simplicity, and the joy of following one’s passion,” he mused. “My wife’s unwavering support and kids fuel my motivation.”

For now, he hopes to continue performing, and to take his act to Goa and around India. “I think there’s a niche market for Elvis and Rock’n’Roll music.”

We cannot let him go without asking one more question: as a diehard Elvis fan, does he believe in the theory that Elvis is alive, and living in hiding somewhere?

Gerard Mascarenhas laughed in reply.

“Poor Elvis, leave him alone. He did go to a better place, even though he left us too soon.”

With Rajni Anand Luthra

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