A young man has to be versatile to make it in the entertainment game, so Jonathan Wilson Rader is busy kicking off a second music career.
If that doesn't sound too remarkable, just consider that Jonathan is 9 years old. And he's already a show-business veteran.
Back in 2008, he started brightening up Lexington's bluegrass music scene, impressing fans with his natural showmanship and onstage flair, even though he was too young to play an instrument. After all, he was just 3.
Still, he was soon recording a bluegrass CD and appearing in music shows in Indiana, Ohio and parts of Kentucky. That was Jonathan's first career.
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Everything changed, however, when he saw a show by an Elvis Presley impersonator — or tribute artist — last year in Nashville.
"From now on, I'm going to do that right there," Jonathan told his dad, Nathan Rader.
Now, Jonathan performs as "Little Elvis" or "Little E," belting out The King's greatest hits, and cutting the same onstage moves that drove Presley fans wild back in the day. He dresses the part, too, with a wardrobe of custom-made outfits like Elvis used to wear, some costing as much as $1,000.
Jonathan's first big gig as Elvis in Lexington was May 16 at Musicland, a family oriented music venue in the Meadowthorpe neighborhood. He sang Presley hits backed by a local band, Kenny Whalen and the Travelers. And like The King, Jonathan tossed out colorful neck scarves to breathless ladies in the audience between songs.
"He wasn't bashful; I'll tell you that," Kenny Whalen said. "I mean 9 years old. ... I thought he was real good."
Jonathan's been getting such reviews since he started out in bluegrass music.
"You could tell early on that he had real rhythm and an ear for music," Nathan Rader said. "He was just a natural showman. He first performed when he was barely 2. He recorded a bluegrass album when he was 6. He has been on WoodSongs (Old-Time Radio Hour). He recorded a CD of Elvis songs last year."
Jonathan has no record contract, at least not yet, but he sells copies of his CDs to guests at shows. His father mainly foots the bills for his music career, at least for now.
Jonathan also remains a kid. He attends Wilmore Elementary School, likes to ride bikes with friends; enjoys video games and super-hero adventure stories; and spends time with his mom, dad and sister.
But everyone agrees that he approaches performing with the dedication of an experienced, true professional.
When he started doing Elvis, Jonathan knew relatively little about The King. He spent months watching Elvis videos on TV and the Internet, studying The King's moves and learning his classic songs, and checking out some of Elvis' movies from the 1950s and '60s.
"He immersed himself in Elvis," Nathan Rader said.
When Jonathan recorded the Elvis CD in Nashville, with professional musicians backing him, he insisted on repeated takes to get the sound exactly right, his father said.
"He would tell these guys, 'That's not the sound I want; that's not the way Elvis did it,'" Nathan Rader said. "I think they were impressed with him being that young and knowing exactly the sound he wanted."
Jonathan says that when he performs, he tries to "become" Elvis.
"I had heard some Elvis CDs my mom and dad had, and I thought he had a good beat," Jonathan said. "I really didn't think too much about it at the time.
"But after I saw this tribute artist in Nashville, I really started getting into the music."
Jonathan's mother, Terri Wilson, said he's never been shy in front of an audience.
"He likes to ride bikes with the rest of the kids, but mostly he likes to perform," she said. "When he's here with his friends, he's always performing for them. And he's always costume-changing and performing for me."
Wilson said her son might have inherited his stage sense from her father, who played in a band, and other members of her family who were musicians.
"I'm very shy, so he doesn't get it from me," she said.
Jonathan just says he's always comfortable in front of people.
"I like being onstage," he said "I never feel never nervous; I feel like I'm at home. When I perform, I don't think about it; I just feel like I'm at home and do what I feel like I can do."
How far Jonathan will go with this is anybody's guess.
Terri Wilson says her son is interested in the theater, and she hopes he will pursue theater and music.
"I support him 100 percent," she said.
Nathan Rader says he thinks their son will end up in some kind of music career, whether bluegrass, rock 'n' roll or another genre.
"He loves all kinds of music," Nathan Rader said.
For now, Jonathan is concentrating on being Elvis.
"I wanted to feel what he felt," he says, "and dance to the rhythm just like he did."