Many little girls dream of becoming a big star one day - though very few actually make it. In my "Person to Person" report, meet Alisabeth Von Presley. She had those same dreams and tomorrow, hers may be coming true.
"I'm wearing these on my show at the amphitheater on the 7th”, said Alisabeth. Shoes straight out of a Michael Jackson video are perfectly at home in the photography studio of Alisabeth Von Presley. She said, “I wish I could maybe be in the 80's. Hair bands, glitter, glam, spandex, fun..!" she added.
The fun toys - flirty decorations - and bright colors infused with all shades of pink match Von Presley's personality. "Growing up my mom would tell people that I got dressed in the dark, because I would wear a yellow sock and a green sock, pink shirt with blue pants, have a piggy tail on this side, and a French braid coming out of this side. I've always been a little bit quirky, a little bit off, but always super happy”, says Von Presley.
Von Presley and her family are all locals. She and her brother graduated from Marion high school. But after a semester at the U of I, Von Presley realized she was yearning for something bigger and took off to Chicago, then New York, surviving on rice and beans, and her skills as a photographer and a singer. She said, “I guess in my head I always had this dream of New York City as being the end goal, and thinking that all of the answers to my questions are going to be there. I realized that I didn't have to go there to fulfill myself, and I came back here and I was like, I'm going to create my own Manhattan here, just find a space and make it and paint it, and make it my happy zone and kind of do a little Broadway, or a little choreography, because it's the Midwest and people are open and accepting, and loving, and people smile here! In New York, they don't even make eye contact with you.”
With her photography business thriving, and making music on the side, it seemed to be going well back home. Then “Back in January of last year, I lost my dad to cancer. My dad was awesome. He was a knee-board off the back of a boat kind of guy, super fun and exciting, always adventuring, super fit, just a beautiful human being", she said. As his prostate cancer progressed, Alisabeth searched for a way to express her love and adoration for the man she calls her "Macgyver". He was a builder by trade, and a performer, too, whose favorite show was "Forever Plaid". So, she flew in surprise friends and family members, and with the help of the Giving Tree Theater in Marion, brought him to what he thought was one of her shows. When the curtain opened - he realized what she had done.
She said, "It was beautiful. He walked up onstage. They put on his glasses that he wore in the show and he sang along, and remembered the choreography, and it was, it was beautiful. Because I didn't know what to say or do, and I didn't want to accept reality, so I thought ‘let me recreate something that meant so much to him’.” Tears flowed as he hugged Alisabeth, in a picture captured by a relative, one of the last she would take with him. Sadly, her "Macgyver" died two months later. She poured her grief into her music, writing a song about the pain of her loss.
Having healed, Von Presley is ready to move on, and is days away from the release of her biggest project yet, a new album called "Diamonds in the Blackout". She said, “On my album, we have guitar solos in almost all of the songs. I want to bring back that 80's hair band guitar solo, mixed with Lady Gaga, so it's really what it is, it's kind of a mesh of both of those worlds." Music always was her first love. She first played the piano at three. Today, she’s on the cover of an album a little older, a little wiser, and very ready for a new adventure.
"I'd love to go on tour. I'd love for a record company to hear this album and slap their name on it and re-release it, because it's a fantastic album. I really haven't been more proud of anything in my life”, Von Presley said.
You can download Von Presley's new album through iTunes starting Friday, or through her website here. She'll also be performing at Uptown Friday Night's in Cedar Rapids at the Mc Grath Amphitheater Friday night between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.