The lights are low, but the energy is high as a hot Afrobeat hits the speakers at Houston’s Guava Lamp Lounge. Morena Roas takes the stage, grabs the mic, and the real fun begins. Her hip-hop vocals are laced with international flair, filling the room with a salty sweet vibe. The floor is hers.
The openly gay, bilingual singer and rapper first took the Houston music scene by storm in 2013 when she was named Pride Superstar runner-up. “Ever since then, I’ve just been evolving my sound,” Roas says. “Some people in this city don’t get it. They think it’s too risqué. But I know exactly what to play and when.”
That evolution includes the personal brand Roas has built, which centers around her alter ego, Molly. “Beyoncé has Sasha Fierce, Nicki Minaj has Roman, Morena has Molly,” Roas explains. “There’s no Morena without Molly. She is my nightlife queen. She is the nighttime, I am the day.” And like the great pop divas before her, Roas has her own band of loyal followers. “Lady Gaga has her monsters, Molly has a Nation,” Roas says. “To me, #MollyNation means artists supporting artists.”
“Artists supporting artists,” has become somewhat of a mantra for Roas’ work. Her passion for supporting up-and-coming and LGBTQ artists is just as serious as her unapologetic attitude, and led to her to found and host The Floor is Yours—an open mic night for musicians, singers, songwriters, comedians, spoken word artists, dancers, and more—held every Monday night at Guava Lamp. “I had a bad experience at a straight bar here in town a few years back,” Roas says of her motivation to start The Floor is Yours. “I was turned away from an open mic night. I wasn’t going to let that happen to me, as a woman and as an artist, again. I wanted to create something for us—for artists. It can be hard for us to go to straight and gay locations that only do karaoke. They’re not giving us a space to make our own music. [The LGBTQ community] has more to offer than just karaoke and drag queens. Let us do our thing.”
“The people who come [to The Floor is Yours] are true artists,” she adds. “They want to sing, but because they get ridiculed at other places, they often shy away from that. I don’t play that on my floor. You do you. It doesn’t matter that Guava is a gay lounge. I invite everybody. Every artist has a gift.”
Roas has recently taken her mission to the airwaves with the start of TBA Thursdays, a music and entertainment radio show that she co-hosts with Eddie V, Boo Boo Jonson, and DJ Cue T on party103radio.com. “My show is about supporting artists,” Roas says. “I only play local artists and unsigned artists.”
On March 29, Roas will perform live in Houston at Spectrum South’s “Vie de Femme,” a celebration of femme identity across the spectrum. When asked how she sees her own femme identity, Roas responds: “I’ve never considered myself a super feminine woman, but I am very attracted to women from all walks of life. Women are the most beautiful things in my life. They encourage my music. They encourage all of my emotions. My mom, my grandma, they’re my angels. Women rule the nation. #MollyNation.”
Morena Roas will be performing at Spectrum South’s “Vie de Femme” celebration, taking place on Thursday, March 29, from 7-10 p.m. at the Sharespace Preston Warehouse. This event is free and open to the public. Voluntary donations will be collected throughout the celebration for the evening’s beneficiary, Save Our Sisters United.