On August 8, 2015, just eight days shy of the 38th anniversary of his death, the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation honored Elvis by opening another exhibit at the birthplace on Fan Appreciation Day. The birthplace overlook was expanded to feature two statues, collectively named, “Becoming,” which illustrate the transformation of Elvis, the boy, to Elvis, the entertainer.
One statue depicts a life-size, 11-year old Elvis sitting on a milk crate playing his guitar. His audience is a larger-than-life statue of Elvis who has become the international superstar. They tell the story of a boy who dreamed big dreams and had those dreams come true.
The statues were sculpted by Michiel Vandersommen who previously sculpted the “Elvis at 13” statue, also located on the birthplace grounds. The statues are placed at the highest elevation on the property, a spot where Elvis played as a child with his friends and recounted times of reflection and hope. A walkway connects the rock amphitheater on the lower grounds of the birthplace to the statues and interpretive panels which explain the significance of the statues.
“Both figures represent a slice of life of the same man who came from humble beginnings,” said Henry Dodge, Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation Chairman. “They illustrate the transformation from the boy to one of the greatest cultural icons of the 20th century.”
The statues are part of a master expansion plan to invest $6.5 million into the Birthplace to enhance the experience for the thousands of fans from all over the world that visit annually. Other recent enhancements coming from this plan include adding Elvis’ childhood church to the birthplace grounds, opening a 126-seat theatre, and commissioning the popular “Elvis at 13” statue.
“Elvis became a larger than life personality with a revolutionary influence on music worldwide,” said Dodge. “But he always maintained his humble spirit and kept true to his roots in East Tupelo.”
Elvis returned to Tupelo on September 27, 1957 and performed a benefit concert to raise money to build a Youth Center and park for Tupelo. The proceeds were used to purchase his birthplace and make a park for the neighborhood children. The Elvis Presley Birthplace Park now consists of the Birthplace, Museum, Childhood Church, Chapel, Gift Shop, “Elvis at 13” statue, Fountain of Life, Walk of Life, “Memphis Bound” car feature, Story Wall, Elvis Theater, and the “Becoming” statues.