She’s been making music for years, but in 2018 she tackled a much bigger task: making sure that artists support other artists, especially so in the LGBTQ+ community. Meet the next in our Best of 2018 series, Morena Roas Da Artist.
(HOUSTON) — When it came time to make up this list of truly outstanding individuals from 2018, I must admit that there was a bit of a personal bias toward some of these people. That bias, however, doesn’t come from liking certain people in the LGBTQ+ community of Houston more than others, nor does it come from being better friends with some than others. Being the editor-in-chief of this magazine for the last year has simply put me in a position to meet, work with, and get to know some of the most incredible people in our community. And of all the incredible people I’ve met in the last year — and there have been many — one of the most important and outstanding has been a local musical gem that’s been spitting rhymes and melodies for longer than I’ve been writing professionally. Her name is Morena Roas, and she spent 2018 not just making music, but making a way for artists all around to shine in her spotlight and step into their own.
To know Morena Roas is to know a pure heart. The singer-dancer-songwriter-producer-actress and well-rounded human being isn’t just out on the stage looking for to make a buck or garner a few fans — she’s out there to present to you other that talent she meets along the way. When I first met Roas, there was an instant connection, and not the kind that one comes by easily. It wasn’t the type of in-passing meet-and-greet that comes when you exchange pleasantries with another business person at a bar that a mutual friend introduces to you. Morena had then and continues to have something much more powerful in her arsenal than that: the ability to make everyone feel like the most important person in the world. While her music is important to her (as are her many other business ventures, including her clothing line Molly Nation), one will note that Roas leaves the passenger’s seat of her professional vehicle open to anyone serious about their work and along for the ride. So much so, in fact, that Roas has been the host and creator of the weekly Monday night open mic show at Guava Lamp on Waugh, The Floor Is Yours, which she co-hosts with friend and fellow musician J Metro. Every Monday, The Floor Is Yours features and spotlights one booked artist while allowing talent from all around the city of Houston take to the stage to sing, run stand-up routines, read poetry, and more.
But Morena’s repertoire is packed with much more than just one show. This past holiday season, the artist released a Christmas album just in time for winter, entitled, My Very Merry 1st Christmas, which featured arrangements and renditions of classic holiday songs, original music, and a feature with fellow musician and Houston local, Stoo. Following the release of her album and just days after Christmas, Roas produced and hosted the Xmas Aftermath concert at Elevate Lounge in Houston’s Historic Third Ward. The local cigar and hookah lounge transformed for one night into a dynamic and colorful concert of some of Houston’s finest artists. Acts included Shawn Anthony, former American Idol contestant Vincent Powell, raspy rocker Josie Arias, The Floor Is Yours co-host J Metro, Pride SuperStar finalist Mark Wilburn, and many others. Punctuating the evening of Christmas music, soulful covers, and exquisite original numbers came Morena Roas performing songs from her Christmas collection, as well as a new, original hip-hop song that had the audience on its feet, shouting lyrics back at the singer, and dancing with her. Watching Morena on stage is a bit like staring a piece of fine art — albeit, a very loud, filterless, mouthy piece of art. Sometimes she takes a minute to complete soak up; sometimes she’s so colorful that it can be hard to fixate correctly one particular thing about her; and sometimes she’s so abstract that her goodness can be overwhelming in all the ways that it radiates out of her. But that’s what makes up Morena — pure goodness. It translates into everything that she does and doesn’t stop at her music. This past September, Morena took part in a live reading of my own sitcom, The Anthony Project, at Rich’s Houston, where she read a part written for her, Sofia Garcia. The character, like Morena, is an aspiring musician and best friend of the titular character as they work at a fictional version of About Magazine. But singing, acting — she’s good at it all, and she’s more than just an artist … she’s an artist who is taking everyone else to the top on her way there. She stands for artists; she stands for Houston; she stands for the LGBTQ+ community; and she’s not going anywhere any time soon.