The intensity of Elvis Presley’s love and devotion for gospel music is revealed in the documentary He Touched Me: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley. It is narrated by veteran newscaster Sander Vanocur.
Presley’s story is told with vintage photos, interviews and video footage, including some never-before available scenes of Elvis’s impromptu offstage gospel performances. Many interviews reveal that Presley’s unshakable commitment to gospel music was tested many times by producers and record label executives, who were later to be surprised when the Grammys overlooked Presley’s No. 1 hits in favor of three of his best gospel performances.
The special covers Presley’s early childhood in Tupelo and Memphis, his relationship with his mother, the influences of southern gospel and black gospel music, and his early career. Highlights include Presley’s dynamic concert performances of “The American Trilogy” and “How Great Thou Art” and his debut performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The special also shares many impromptu musical gatherings by Presley and his gospel music heroes, including the late J.D. Sumner, the Imperials, the Blackwood Brothers, the Jordanaires and many others.
Also included are interviews with those who touched Presley’s young life. The late J.D. Sumner (Stamps) talks about giving young Presley free admittance to his concerts because the Presleys couldn’t afford tickets. Former Presley band member Tony Brown (president of MCA Nashville) reveals that for Presley, singing gospel music was his way of worshipping God since his celebrity prevented him from attending church, and Myrna Smith of the Sweet Inspirations, Presley’s background singers, talks about how Presley fought racism to keep the group on stage with him.