St. Clair County woman says she helped Elvis Presley get his start in 1947

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MOODY, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s not often that someone can say they knew the King of Rock. Nor can one say they knew him before he was the Elvis Presley, but one Alabama woman says she helped him gain his confidence on the stage.

In a small country church in 1947, Doris Willis Gracia said she was attending a church singing convention at an old baptist church in Crooked Creek, Miss. However, the guest singers did not show up.

Gracia said that’s when the pastor asked her to sing. She was 14 at the time and had been taking singing lessons, but did not know the pastor knew she had a voice. He also pointed at a 12-year-old boy to sing who later became the world-renown Elvis Presley.

“He told me you know I love to sing but there’s no way I’m going to get up in front of this congregation and make a fool out of myself,” Gracia said.

Gracia said she told him he was not going to do it by herself.

“I told him you look out there and you see if you see anybody who looks like they can sing as well as you,” Gracia said.

She told Elvis to not worry about who’s looking at him, but to focus on his words. Garcia said she told him to act like he’s getting $100 per word.

Her final word of advice to him might have been what convinced him. She told him, “if you can’t do the first two things then sit down and spend the rest of your life wondering what might’ve happened if you had got up there and sing.”

Gracia said as Elvis began to sing, it was a mumble at first. Then he warmed up as the audience began to send a positive response back. And they took turns playing the piano for each other while the other sang.

After that day, she never saw Elvis again.

That was until 1973 when she saw him in the hospital in Birmingham where she was a registered nurse.

She said she did not want to run into him because she did not want him to feel obligated to owe her anything.

Years went by since that short almost encounter and Presley died in 1977.

While Gracia was working at the east end hospital in Birmingham, Gracia ran into some people who knew Presley.

“I ran into two guys who used to go around on the concerts with him and they told me that he spoke about me,” Gracia said. “They just said he mentioned me.”

Gracia said she felt like she missed an opportunity to catch up with Presley, but does not think too hard about it.

She was a registered nurse for 45 years before retiring and has written two books titled “The Girl from Silver Creek: Part I” and followed up with a “Part II.”

You can find Gracia’s books at the Moody and Leeds libraries or on lulu.com. They are also available on Amazon and Kindle.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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