Tribute to 'The King'
“It’s the story of dreams, lost dreams and redemption.
I never give up. Even when it looks like I have, I always find a way.”
~ Leigh Joel Fierman
Minutes before showtime, he scurries downstairs and grabs a glimpse of himself in a sizable mirror.
Leaning in close to study his appearance, he fine-tunes the small, but important details. A few shuffles back and forth on the hardwood floor reveal his shoes are suitable for twisting and turning. Rings are slipped on his fingers and a watch secured to his wrist.
Dressed in a loose shirt and denim bell-bottom pants, he gives a nod of silent approval before rushing again, this time out the door and onto the stage.
Leigh Joel Fierman, 49, doesn’t wear two-piece, sequin-covered jumpsuits with shoulder-patterned shirts and stretchy gabardine pants. Nor does he verbalize with a raised upper lip and a Mississippi drawl.
He is himself, decorated with the sadness and stir of life. That is how he personifies “The King.”
But don’t call him an impersonator.
He describes his tribute act as “an escape from the realities of life.” But in escaping, he’s moving into another reality. One he would like to be permanent — the life of a musician.
Elvis Presley would have turned 83 if he were still alive today. Fans around the world will mark the occasion in a variety of ways. Fierman will most likely think back to 40 years ago.
At just 9 years old, Fierman watched as his mother, along with other fans who took delight in the crooning of “The King,” became overwhelmed with emotion at the news of Presley’s untimely death. His mother played Elvis’ music day and night until that’s all her son heard. At first, the little boy hummed. Then, he sang.
“There was something that captivated me about his singing style. And the presence of him.”
The Kingston native and current Wilkes-Barre resident developed his own style that matured throughout his life. But it’s not just about the sound; it’s about feeling.
“Pain and sorrow, loss, joy. Different emotions. I’m able to put them into a song. Before I used to sing the song. Now I live it. I feel it.”
His entire day is dedicated to that night’s performance. In his living room, where no one is watching, Fierman firmly grips the microphone with sharp tenacity, closes his eyes and sings as if the room were filled with fans. He stands solid with his hands clenched tightly in the air, strangling life’s transgressions, and comes to a resolve as he opens his eyes and moves freely.
In between numbers, he flips through the pages of his 90-song repertoire. Next to his set list is a collection of slick retro glasses that adhere to Elvis’ fashion sensibilities. Facial cream and a finely pressed outfit wrap up his transformation.
“You get out of it what you put into it. When youre doing an Elvis tribute, the visual is important. You’re not just a singer.
You’re aspiring to something thats like Superman.”
“The older you get, the harder it is to look how you want to look. But it’s worth it, because the show wouldnt be the same.”
Fierman has wanted to sing and entertain people ever since he was a young boy.If Elvis were alive today, there’s no doubt he would still say, “Ambition is a dream with a V-8 engine.”