LEXINGTON- 11-year-old Jonathan Rader loves that old time rock and roll and his personality changes as fast as he can shake his hips. We caught up with him on a recent Friday night as he performed his Elvis Presley tribute show at Parkette Drive-In.
Jonathan says off-stage he can come across as shy. “But I’m telling you when I put the jump suit on, I’ll be walking around here doing this all day,” he says while demonstrating an Elvis move.
” I just feel like I’m Elvis when I put the suit on.”
The West Jessamine Middle School student started getting on stage with bluegrass bands before he was three years old, but three years ago, he saw an Elvis Presley tribute artist in Nashville and got all shook up.
“So I kind of nudged my dad on the shoulder and was like ‘That’s what I want to be when I grow up.'”
Since then, Elvis is always on his mind. He performs as “Little E,” with his dad as his manager and sound man.
Johnathan was born with a club foot and it took several surgeries and a lot of therapy to get him walking. He took his first steps well behind schedule at 17 months old.
“To see him dance and carry on and do like Elvis done, it blesses my heart,” says his dad, Nathan Rader. “I thank God every day I’ve got a son I can do this for and help him.”
Little E knows how to work a crowd and, like the King, can be a real ladies’ man, often passing out scarves to women and girls in the audience.
Will Little E become Big E? He hopes so.
“If I can dream, I want to be the ultimate Elvis,” he says, referencing a Presley hit song.
“I always tell him he has to go to college also,” says his mom, Terri Wilson. “But yeah, If he can have this as a hobby and turn it into a career, I’d be happy for him.”
“It’s just a great feeling because, for a second, it feels like The King is inside your heart and you’re just letting it all out,” Jonathan says.
Besides local performances, Jonathan has been in concert in Nashville, Memphis and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and can be booked through his website.
His goal at shows is to spread some joy that hangs around long after Elvis has left the building.