Houston singer/songwriter and performer, Morena Roas Da Artist released her holiday album last week, “My Very Merry 1st Christmas”.
(HOUSTON) — Morena Roas (who is known artistically as Morena Roas Da Artist) is a number of things; she’s a singer, a songwriter, a dancer, a clothing designer, a crowd-commanding stage performer, and a show host. Roas has performed across multiple stages at festivals and events, including Austin’s SXSW, Pride Houston’s Eden Girl Party, and more. In addition, Roas hosts the Monday night open mic night, “The Floor Is Yours”, at Guava Lamp every Monday where artists — both LGBTQ+ and otherwise — from around the city showcase their talents. Often these talents are musical in nature, but that isn’t all they are limited to. In fact, many times spoken word poets, stand-up comics, and even once a harmonica player who droned on for several minutes. But it doesn’t ever seem to matter to Roas what the artist’s talent is. And why? Because Morena Roas — both professionally and personally — lives by one very simple rule and standard:
Artists support artists.
If you follow Roas on social media, you’ll see that very statement behind a hashtag; and if you attend any of her shows — including her 2018 “Sing Out and Proud” competition at Guava Lamp that rivaled Pride Houston’s Pride SuperStar this year — you’ll take note that at some point in the show, Roas always takes a brief intermission to preach this to her audience. No matter what the show is, no matter what she’s doing, Roas not only stresses the importance of supporting other artists, she takes an active role in doing so. I should know. After all, Roas so much believed in a little script I wrote that she’s been playing an active part in the forthcoming sitcom, The Anthony Project. But it doesn’t end there. All throughout her work week, Roas is bouncing around the city from show-to-show, sharing flyers and advertisements on social media, and introducing local artists to other local artists to try to create collaborations that are symbiotic to all parties. And why?
Because Morena Roas loves art; and Morena Roas loves Houston and its artists. In fact, even on the back of her holiday album, My Very Merry 1st Christmas, Roas’s acknowledgements say (in part):
“[…] Thanks to my city for always letting me be who I am […]”
And anyone who follows or knows Roas knows this for sure: who she is is downright wild sometimes. Her sense of humor translates into short videos that could potentially break the internet and into songs such as this parody she posted to Facebook several weeks ago, entitled “Let Me Give You Some Head in My Volkswagen”.
But the thing to remember about Roas is this: she’s a serious artist, too. Her voice is nothing short of magical and her ear knows good music when it’s being played or made. The woman singing about giving head in the video above isn’t just here to make you laugh, she’s here to make sure you get the music that you’re paying to listen to, and that other talented performers around the city of Houston are getting their chance to show you what they’ve got, as well. That’s why when Morena stated publicly that she’d be releasing a Christmas album, I knew it wasn’t a joke; and I knew I had to get my hands on one.
The album, as a whole, is not your typical Christmas album. Sure there are holiday staples that we all expect to hear from Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel and Reba McEntire on their Christmas albums. The album opens with Roas’s poppy rendition of “Jingle Bells”, then segues into “Rockin’ Around the Xmas Tree”. And like many Christmas albums, My Very Merry 1st Christmas is punctuated with a few slower songs, such as “O’ Holy Night” and “Silent Night/Noche De Paz” (on both tracks Roas is accompanied by well-known Houston pianist and musician, Jonathan Craft). But Roas has added her own fun spins to a traditional Christmas album. Getting down to her hip-hop roots, Roas has added “Jingle Bell Trap” and its counterpart, “Jingle Bell Trap Remix”. These hip-hop tracks take Christmas classics and touch them with the kind of magic that only Roas is quite capable of throwing together and selling to an audience. It’s the perfect blend of fun and holiday cheer. (Although, one might wonder who’s parents let these children into the music video below).
The album, produced by Brandon De La Garza and American Idol‘s Vincent Powell, also features a collaboration with local artist Stoo, entitled “Unwrap My Heart”, which features vocals by Roas. The bonus track is truly one of the highlights of the album, as it serves up a different kind of sound not typically found on Christmas albums, as well as one that showcases a different side of Roas’s vocals while also introducing Stoo to new fans who may not be familiar with his honey-like voice. But what makes the album isn’t just its music: it’s the fact that its so unapologetically Morena Roas. That means it’s unapologetically trap, unapologetically queer, and unapologetically true to who the artist behind it is. A line in her take on “I’m Getting Nothing for Christmas” (aptly titled “I Ain’t Getting Nuttin’ for Christmas”) even drops an Easter Egg-like line about how she was caught kissing a girl in bed. Just as pleasant is the incorporation of Roas’s Latina heritage with Spanish lyrics in her take on “Silent Night”. It’s all these little things that take this album that is so unapologetically Morena Roas and make it something that has a little something for everyone.
And that’s what Morena is all about — doing something for everyone.