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Alisabeth Von Presley, at 28, is not only a professional singer, but also a dancer and photographer.
Von Presley is not her given name. It originally was Calaway, but she changed it to just Alisabeth, inspired by Madonna, and later added Von Presley, naming herself after the king of rock ‘n' roll because she's always believed she was his reincarnation.
The Marion native spent most of her life here in the Corridor, studying music briefly at Kirkwood before moving to Chicago, then New York and eventually Memphis. In 2011 she returned to Iowa to care for her grandmother battling breast cancer.
It was her grandmother, who has since died, who inspired her to pick up photography, she said. She remembers her chasing her around with a camera and setting up tablecloth backdrops for portraits. When she died, Von Presley was left with cherished memories preserved in those photos. She decided she wanted to preserve others memories, too.
Her first foray as a professional photographer was born from needing money while living in New York, trying to make it on Broadway. For $25, she'd shoot a fresh headshot for fellow actors. It took time, but those small beginnings blossomed into the photography career she has today, in which she regularly photographs events, theater, portraits, weddings and more.
Her goal as a photographer is to 'make people feel beautiful,” she said. Her favorite challenge is when clients come to her saying that they 'don't look good” in photos, because it's usually because 'someone didn't take the time to look at (them),” she said.
Using her knowledge of body positioning learned from years of dance and performance, Von Presley works with clients to make them feel comfortable, confident and 'gorgeous.”
Her grandmother also influenced her musical career, encouraging her to audition for the TV show 'American Idol” in 2012, where she earned a golden ticket to Hollywood before being sent home - but that didn't stop her from continuing to perform.
As she puts it, she has a 'huge fire inside” that she 'won't let burn out,” regardless of criticism.
She released her first album, 'My Foolish Heart,” two years ago, and last year she auditioned for 'The Voice,” another televised singing competition. Although she didn't make it on TV, she continues to perform throughout the Corridor - whether it's singing cabaret at the Opus Concert Cafe or Brucemore's courtyard, or gigs with Four State Fate, a rock band she joined last year who are now hoping to tour the nation or, ideally, the world, she said.
On top of her photography business, band practice and performances, she also teaches theater and dance at Kennedy High School and show choir at McKinley Middle School.
So how does she do it?
For one, she doesn't really sleep. At least not during normal hours.
She said she feels most productive in the wee hours of the morning, between 1 and 5 a.m. That's when you'll find her wide-awake, editing photos, taking self-portraits, writing songs or, most recently, painting her kitchen pink - her favorite color.
Even though 'juggling it all is very difficult,” she said, she believes she's able to do it simply because she does what she loves. And when you love what you do, doing it all isn't such a chore.