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Tye Blue Brings ‘Estelle’ and ‘Testify’ to Houston

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By Barrett White

Can you think of anything better than a stage-commanding drag queen, sexy backup dancers, and an evening of uplifting, inspiring entertainment? There aren’t many things that can beat that.

Enter Estelle. Evoking the image of old Hollywood glamour and thrill, Estelle brings us her titular show, in which she galvanizes the stage with a live performance of jazz throwbacks and nightclub staples, a performance that’s already a hit in Los Angeles.

Tye Blue. Photo: Facebook
Tye Blue. Photo: Facebook

Originally hailing from Houston, Estelle’s alter ego, Tye Blue, is no stranger to the stage. A high-school band student, it wasn’t until his days in university (where he majored in saxophone) that he turned his eye toward a career in vocal performance. After graduating from Sam Houston State University, Blue went on to become a jack of all trades in the Houston entertainment scene, where he led the Houston Grand Opera’s company production of Show Boat, and went on to appear in Jekyll and Hyde and Brigadoon with Theatre Under the Stars, to name a few. Outside of the Theatre District, Blue also worked as the entertainment director for F Bar for a period of time, performing several nights a week at the Montrose favorite before venturing outside of Houston.

“I was first enchanted by drag while living in New York and I saw Candis Cayne performing live, and she blew me away, because she was just so kind and lovely on stage,” Blue recalls.

Upon his return to the Magnolia City, Blue’s April 29 performance of Estelle is arranged as a sassy, saucy, upscale concert, complete with a full cast of local talent. From a slew of musicians keeping beat with Estelle’s vocal chops to the eye-candy arrangement of backup dancers and vocalists, the production will be entirely Houston’s own.

In addition to Estelle’s Estelle act on April 29, Blue will be giving Houston a little taste of what he has to offer with a quick brunch performance of his drag-queen gospel cabaret, Testify, on May 1. The event will benefit Out for Education, helping to provide educational scholarships to Houston-area LGBT youth. Testify was conceived and first produced in Houston where it was wildly popular, performing to sold-out audiences before Blue took it with him to Los Angeles.

“I never went to church as a kid…I’m not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person, and I love, love, love gospel music,” Blue says. “It’s my favorite kind of music, maybe after jazz.”

The idea behind Testify is a noble one. Taking notice of the obvious and often hurtful trend of conservative communities that tend to shun their gay congregants, Blue formulated an exciting brunch performance in which all kinds are invited to come as they are and enjoy the spiritual entertainment guided by Blue himself.

“I built this concept where anybody of any faith can come together, they can hear some really amazing gospel music, they can have kind of a spiritual experience, while still having their Sunday-Funday,” Blue says. “And I threw drag queens in there too, doing gospel lip-syncs. It’s a really fun time.”

What: Estelle
Where: Corner Table, 2736 Virginia St.
When: April 29, 8 p.m.
Details: tyebluepresents.ticketleap.com/estelle/details

What: Testify
Where: Corner Table, 2736 Virginia St.
When: May 1, 12 p.m.
Details: outforeducation.org/tickets

Barrett White is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.

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Barrett White

Barrett White is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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