Sources: The Pueblo Chieftain – By Amy Matthew | Edited By – All Things Michael
Cab Calloway, Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson, James Brown and Michael Jackson had more than music in common — and Sonny Gonzalez (known as Sonny G.) is ready to illustrate the foot-tapping connection.
Gonzalez, a Pueblo native, will debut his production, “American Music Icons,” today at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center. The performance will start at 7:30 p.m. After learning some of Jackson’s dance moves for a show while he was in high school, Gonzalez continued expanding his impersonation over the last decade. During that time, he was building his acting career with a long list of parts in commercials and corporate training videos, on TV and in theater.
He went through hundreds of videos and listened to each man’s music to better understand the emotions of the songs, which he said find their way into their mannerisms and choreography. In the show, he lip-syncs to some of each singer’s biggest hits.
“Jackie and Elvis had similar movements,” Gonzalez said. “Between Jackie’s footwork and Elvis’ hips, you get James Brown. Cab Calloway was just way out there with his clothing and his movements.”
Sure enough, watch Calloway and you’ll see the origins of the moonwalk, a little Elvis hip shake and arm windmill, the frenetic, all-over-the-stage dancing of Brown. “Michael was all four of the other characters rolled up into one,” said Gonzalez. “When you see him at the end of the show, you’ll understand where he derived his hip movements and his beats.” Gonzalez’s Elvis moves even got him a job last year in an Starz/Encore movie channel promotion for Elvis month. He had to be approved by Elvis Presley Enterprises, which controls every facet of The King’s legacy.
“They’ve invited me to Graceland for their big Elvis impersonation contest they do every year,” he said.
Developing his own show provided Gonzalez with an enormous lesson in music history. “I was surprised at the connections,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know who Jackie Wilson and Cab Calloway were, but if you watch the videos I watched, they’re still relevant today. The music, dance moves and energy — you see them in everyone from Justin Bieber to Usher to Lady Gaga.”
Though he’s lived in Denver for nearly a decade, Gonzalez said he wanted to premiere his show in his hometown.
“We’re all about the arts in Pueblo,” he said. “I want to let people know Pueblo’s a positive place and you can make it if you have a dream and the tenacity to get it done.”
The performance will be filmed by Pueblo company Luminous Media Arts. Tickets for “American Music Icons” are $20. They are available at the arts center box office.
The evening will include a Halloween dance party and a costume contest with cash prizes.
IF YOU GO:
WHO: Sonny G.
WHAT: ‘American Music Icons’
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today
WHERE: Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, 210 N. Santa Fe Ave.
TICKETS: $20 at arts center box office
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