Viva Fall River

News Item: Fall River Arts Academy Students Headed to Graceland

Mar 26, 2022 | Small Business, Viva Downtown

These Fall River students have a burning love for music — they’re headed to Graceland

by Dan MedeirosThe Herald News
Posted: March 25, 2022

FALL RIVER — A year ago, on her birthday, Samantha Ellis started taking music lessons at the Fall River Arts Academy on South Main Street. On this year’s birthday, when she turns 12, she’ll be performing live on stage at Graceland in Memphis. 

She’s one of 23 members of the Fall River music school who will be making the trip south to perform a recital on April 7 at the Graceland Theatre — the home of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. 

The academy is on the second floor above TJ’s Music on South Main Street, and on Tuesday, students turned the space into a nightclub, holding a dry run of their Graceland performances for each other and parents. Samantha fronted the house band, singing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, with her older brother Karl on rhythm guitar — and TJ’s and Fall River Arts Academy owner Todd Salpietro on drums. Afterward, Karl switched off to vocals and sang “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash.

Samantha’s got some jitters about performing in Memphis next month.  

“At first when I heard of it, I said ‘Oh my gosh, yes,’” she said, “but then I saw the stage and I’m slightly nervous, slightly confident.” 

Salpietro said that performers can practice conquering that feeling, the same way his school emphasizes practicing their music.


“You step on stage one time, and you’re nervous,” Salpietro said. “Now you step on stage the next time, you have a little more confidence. Then you do it again, you have a little more confidence — now you’re smiling on stage. Now you don’t have that wall in front of you anymore. It’s fun.” 

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