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By Megan Smith
Live from Guava Lamp, it’s Monday night! Local LGBT entertainer Morena Roas is shaking things up at one of Houston’s favorite gay clubs with her “The Floor Is Yours” open mic showcase. Unlike traditional karaoke nights, The Floor Is Yours is an opportunity for all LGBT artists—singers, dancers, musicians, poets, comedians, magicians, and more—to showcase their talents in front of a welcoming crowd. Co-hosted by Roas and J-Metro, the showcase has been met with growing applause. OutSmart spoke with Roas in early March to discuss the success of The Floor Is Yours and how the LGBT community can best support its artists.
Megan Smith: How did you first get into the music scene?
I competed in the infamous Pride Super Star, which is held every year before Houston’s LGBT Pride Celebration. It really got me into doing more music that I’d never done before. A lot of karaoke preparation helped. [Laughs]
What should people expect from “The Floor Is Yours” open mic showcase?
The Floor Is Yours showcases all kinds of talent from newbies to indie artists to professionals to comedians who are always dropping new material. There’s just so much! The house always has something for everyone—it’s an open mic, which allows for a lot of new, old, awesome, and diverse talent to come through. Some songs you’ve heard, some you’ve never heard, and some you never heard quite like this. Expect good vibes and a chill time!
What was your motivation behind starting the night?
Whoever said all great things come out of discriminatory moments, they were right. I won’t say the establishment, but it’s on Richmond. I wasn’t treated right as an artist and by some of the people who were there. That moment made me feel like “Oh hell no.” I didn’t think that type of discrimination happened in my hood—it never happened to me in Montrose. From then on, my mind wouldn’t stop thinking about having an open mic night. We had plenty of karaoke spots in our community, but we didn’t have an open mic night for LGBT folks or any other kind of untraditional night for LGBT artists. That moment lit the match and I started a fire!
Is there a set lineup or do different artists perform each week?
The signup starts at 8 p.m., and the first act is up about 9:15 p.m. Sometimes our headlining artists get up to 15 minutes, but we usually give the artist six to seven minutes to shine. We have an in-house band that consists of key guitarist J-Metro, drummer Demarco Ware, and I. We are always looking for talent, so if interested, you can email us at [email protected].
What’s your advice for those who are nervous to perform for the first time?
My advice is to close your eyes, ride the music wave, and have a damn good time. You will always get nervous, but the point is to do it, even if you make mistakes. If you mess up, keep at it and keep doing it.
What’s the best way for others to support LGBTQ artists and performers?
The best way to support each other is to actually support each other! [Laughs] I, of all people, know this. I support drag queens, so they support me. I support artists, so they support me. I support women, so they support me, and so on and so on. We need more support from the local and national media, paper sources, and magazines. Just reach out to us! This would allow more LGBT artists and performers better opportunities. Both Houston and Texas have an amazing amount of LGBT entertainers. I have held the title of OutSmart’s Gayest & Greatest Local Non-Drag Entertainer many times. The Floor Is Yours is a way to discover some of these great entertainers. It’s so great that Guava Lamp supports that opportunity. It’s a beautiful thing. Mondays would be nothing without the support of the community.
What: “The Floor Is Yours” open mic showcase
Where: Guava Lamp, 570 Waugh Dr.
When: Mondays at 8 p.m.