In his 25th year making a living as a singer, LaFayette native Matt Cordell, "The Ultimate Tribute Artist," paid tribute to one of his own family members — the late Teresa Motley Smith, who recently passed away from breast cancer.
Smith was the mother of his wife Tashia, and tragically passed away a week before a benefit planned in her honor.
That didn't stop the community from coming out in support of her, though. But instead of potentially lifesaving treatment, the $7,000 raised helped pay for her funeral. Smith had no life insurance, Cordell said.
"It was standing room only and we raised all the money we needed to," said Cordell, who's made a name for himself performing at Memories Theatre in Pigeon Forge. "I've done shows in the Chattanooga area a lot and it was the biggest show we've ever had. The fans and residents really came through and surprised us all. I would say we had 600 attend throughout the day."
In addition to Cordell's renditions of Jason Aldean, the late Bobby Darin and the late Elvis Presley, the show involved door prizes, a bake sale, a silent auction, a raffle, food and beverages and special guest performers.
"Teresa had been battling cancer 10 years," Cordell said. "She had liver cancer, leukemia and cirrhosis of the liver. They were going to do a liver transplant, but couldn't because of the leukemia. She had an aggressive form of liver cancer."
Cordell performs at Memories Theatre in Pigeon Forge five days a week, but locals will get another chance to see him onstage at an Elvis Christmas show either at the Colonnade in Ringgold or the Tivoli in downtown Chattanooga, he said.
“I’ve only seen one Elvis Presley tribute artist with the Chattanooga Symphony and Orchestra at the Tivoli and his name was Elvis Wade,” said Cordell, who watched the show when he was 22 in the 1990s. “It was sold out. I’m trying to get the orchestra in line with us. I would like to re-create Elvis’ Aloha Show from Hawaii in 1973.”
Cordell can also be reached by contacting Memories Theatre at 865-428-7852.