After graduation Presley worked first at Parker Machinists Shop, and then for the Precision Tool Company with his father, finally working for the Crown Electric Company driving a truck, where he began wearing his hair the trademarked pompadour style.
Elvis was very influenced by gospel acts, as well as acts such as Little Richard and Chuck Berry. The common story that the Presleys formed a popular gospel trio who sang in church and travelled about to various revival meetings is probably not true. However, in 1945 Presley, just ten years old, entered a singing contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. Decked out in a cowboy outfit, he had to stand on a chair to reach the microphone singing Red Foley's "Old Shep." He won second place, a $5 prize and a free ticket to all the rides. On his birthday in January 1946 he received a guitar purchased from Tupelo Hardware Store. In his seventh-grade year at Milam he seems to have taken this guitar to school every day. Many of the other children denigrated him as a "trashy" kind of boy playing trashy "hillbilly" music. Over the next year, Vernon's brother Johnny Smith and Assembly of God pastor Frank Smith gave him basic guitar lessons.
Some years later, in Memphis, Tennessee, the young Presley "spent much of his spare time hanging around the black section of town, especially on Beale Street, where bluesmen like Furry Lewis and B.B. King performed". B.B. King says that he "knew Elvis before he was popular. He used to come around and be around us a lot. There was a place we used to go and hang out on Beale Street". Beale Street in Memphis was notorious for its bars, prostitutes and gambling establishments. Music producer Jim Dickinson called it "the center of all evil in the known universe". But it was a place where young Presley could hear black music. In an interview with Ev Grimes, composer Philip Glass says, "Elvis Presley was really the guy that took black music and made it-well, popular is really the best word." In similar terms, Elijah Wald writes that Presley has "listened carefully to Negro blues men and sanctified singers, swallowed all of that music and combined it with hillbilly sound."
The opening chapter of Peter Guralnick's book Last Train To Memphis  deals with musical influence coming from birth exclusively through his family's attendance at the Assembly of God, a Pentecostal Holiness church. Rolling Stone magazine wrote that: "Gospel pervaded Elvis' character and was a defining and enduring influence all of his days." The United States government mandatory personal examination of Presley as part of the approval process to make his Graceland home a National Historic Landmark wrote that Presley "clearly embraced African American music and culture and did so at a pivotal point of cultural change in American history" but that " Gospel music was his primary musical influence." The U.S. government historian stated that "In the early years of the twentieth century, the evangelical Pentecostal movement with its "vibrant worship style" became extremely popular with working-class Christians, black and white." The church services in which the Presley family participated was where people "jumped, shouted, danced, and fell out for Jesus, because, in a word, they acted "crazy, " they became a national laughingstock, the Holy Rollers of fable and clich?." According to the study, the family's move to Memphis expanded his musical horizons when he began to attend Sunday services at the East Trigg Baptist Church.
Elvis Presley was a baritone whose voice had an extraordinary compass - the so-called register - and a very wide range of vocal color. It covered two octaves and a third, from the baritone low-G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D flat. Presley's best octave was in the middle, D-flat to D-flat. In ballads and country songs he was able to belt out full-voiced high Gs and As, showing a remarkable ability to naturally assimilate styles.
Presley's range, though impressive in its own right, did not in itself make his voice that remarkable, at least in terms of how it measured against musical notation. What made it extraordinary, was where its center of gravity lay. By that measure, and according to Gregory Sandows, Music Professor at Columbia University, Presley was at once a bass, a baritone, and a tenor, most unusual among singers in either classical or popular music.
Main article: Elvis Presley's Sun recordings
On July 18, 1953 Presley paid $3.25 to record the first of two double-sided demos acetates at Sun Studios, "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin", which were popular ballads at the time. According to the official Presley website, Presley gave it to his mother as a much-belated birthday present. Presley returned to Sun Studios (706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee) on January 4, 1954. He again paid $8.25 to record a second demo, "I'll Never Stand in Your Way" and "It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You" (master 0812).
Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, who had already recorded bluesmen such as Howlin' Wolf, James Cotton, B.B. King, Little Milton and Junior Parker , was looking for "a white man with a Negro sound and the Negro feel," with whom he "could make a billion dollars," because he thought black blues and boogie-woogie music might become tremendously popular among white people if presented in the right way. The Sun Records producer felt that a black rhythm and blues act stood little chance at the time of gaining the broad exposure needed to achieve large-scale commercial success."
Phillips and assistant Marion Keisker heard the Presley discs and called him on June 26, 1954 to fill in for a missing ballad singer. Although that session was not productive, Phillips put Presley together with local musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black to see what might develop. During a rehearsal break on July 5, 1954, Presley began singing a blues song written by Arthur Crudup called "That's All Right". Phillips liked the resulting record and on July 19, 1954 he released it as a 78-rpm single backed with Presley's