Only in Houston
When Ty Moore heard Destiny Child's first radio single, more than a decade ago, a unique kind of love was sparked — one that would take the young Houstonian to the far lengths of fandom and straight into a personal limelight of dedicated idolatry.
Today, Moore spends a substantial chunk of her life as Tyoncé, a spitting-image incarnation of H-town's own resident diva Beyoncé Knowles. Being an impersonator and onstage performer is more than just a pastime or even a career for Moore — it's a way of life.
Last month, after Beyoncé made style headlines with a new pixie haircut, Tyoncé wasted no time following suit. Within hours of the singer's big photo reveal, her self-made doppelgänger posted a nearly identical image to the official Tyoncé Moore Facebook page.
And when Beyoncé switched to a more feminine, bobbed style a few days later, her look-alike did the same. Moore explains that sometimes taking such drastic measures comes with the territory of being "Bey," salon bills be damned.
"I've been noted as one of the premier Beyoncé impersonators," Moore says. "I consider it a great honor, and I think it's important to have fidelity to her image in order to maintain that honor. This requires changing my hair as often as she does, which is very often."
Beyond the day-to-day, Moore says that emulating Beyoncé's signature look onstage is another huge commitment. (Check out her Instagram for proof.) Moore estimates it takes her a total of four hours to complete the transformation to "full-on diva" — complete with multiple costume changes.
Anyone who's had the fortune of catching Tyoncé's act knows that this gal is nothing if not precise. And not for nothing: Learning new material is an all-consuming affair for Moore, who listens to Beyoncé's music nonstop to learn the ins and outs of each recording, including "every breath, pause, ad-lib, riff, instrumental break and so on."
A trained actor, dancer and singer, Moore strives for perfection in every aspect of a Tyoncé performance. She choreographs each routine in accordance with Beyoncé's signature style, but adds a touch of her own personal flair.
"I consider being a performer an artistic discipline," Moore says. "Like other disciplines, it can and should be an effort of love, hard work and determination."
"My art requires a lot of different elements to come together," she adds. "I consider them carefully and work on bettering each performance from my last."
Moore explains that Tyoncé got her official start five years ago in The Rose Room, a Dallas show bar famous for its "gender illusion" performances. According to Moore, Tyoncé was a spur-of-the-moment improv for a talent show the club was hosting. After being persuaded by friends to give it a go, Moore got onstage, and with that, a star was born.
Of course, even back then, Moore was no stranger to the spotlight. While growing up on Houston's west side, Moore says she participated in choir, theater and dance. At 15, she graced the stage as Harry MacAfee in a production of Bye Bye Birdie at the Wortham Center.
And performing may just run in Moore's blood. Her older brother, Monroe, is the owner and founder of the City Lights Theater, and her mother and another brother, Clifton, are on its creative team. A family that makes show business a cumulative effort is just one thing Tyoncé has in common with her muse.
"Beyoncé epitomizes talent, humility and presence both on and off the stage," says Moore. "I feel personally tied to her because she exhibits characteristics my mother instilled and fostered in me — a strong family bond, a commitment to a high performance level in everything I do, and a passion and dedication for the performing arts."
Trill in a Tux
Bun B and the Houston Symphony join forces for a historic collaboration.
Bernard Freeman sits nervously at the head table in a room full of wealthy, powerful and influential Houstonians, waiting to be introduced as the day's honored guest speaker. In the four years we have been covering him for the Houston Press, this is the first time we have seen the beloved rapper, known around the world as Bun B, look visibly intimidated.
The event is the September 25 meeting of the Houston chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the setting is Tony's, one of the city's most luxurious restaurants. This is one of those "jacket required" places, with $100,000 supercars lined up at the valet station. But this meeting doubles as a press conference announcing Bun's collaboration with the Houston Symphony for a November 14 event at Jones Hall titled "Houston In Concert Against Hate."
Both the symphony and the ADL are celebrating their centennial anniversaries, and have requested a special performance from the hip-hop legend to help spread the message of unity and diversity and help bring about an end to violence and hate. According to Bun, he and the symphony will also invite a group of 600 kids to the concert as an outreach to the community and to plant the message of peace in the next generation.
"We need to work together to stop these negative aspects of life," Bun says to the meeting attendees and media gathered at the event. He continues to express the need to achieve a society free of hate and violence, with equality and diversity as the foundation of a peaceful society.
The symphony plans to play the works of several composers at the event, from Aaron Copland to John Lennon. Without giving away the surprise, Bun says that he will perform a popular and beloved song complete with original lyrics in tribute to four prominent Houstonians: Esther Campos, Michael Feinberg, Dr. Thomas Freeman and Carol Shattuck.
"It's more than a concert; it's a celebration of what we stand for," Bun tells the crowd. "Of what we believe in, of the values we share. And it's a first for Houston."
After the media interviews and announcement, Rocks Off follows Bun and his manager, Anzel Jennings, to the restaurant's bar for a break from the day's commotion. The rapper confides that the scope of this collaboration is immense.
"This is my most important venture to date," he says. "I mean, for the first time in its history, a hip-hop artist will perform with the symphony. How awesome is that? I'm not rapping, I'm giving a performance. This isn't rap; this is about striving for excellence through hip-hop."
This will also be the first show in his 20-year career that his mother will attend.
"I've never been comfortable with her coming to any of my shows until now," he says.
Trill in a tux. Amazing.
We Want the Airwaves
Houston's Best Internet Radio Stations
Rip off the knob and start clicking.
Much like newspapers, radio has been irrevocably changed by the rise of the Internet. With broadband broadly available, there are fewer and fewer reasons to flip on the dial, so even giants like Clear Channel have added Web-based platforms like iHeartRadio to replace lost terrestrial listeners, offer more variety, gobble up even more revenue, or most likely some combination of the three.
Earlier this month, Apple took it even further by introducing streaming radio to its latest iTunes upgrade, and a few days before that, the somewhat awkwardly named station Musicradio Bop '70s signed on as the newest member of the Houston-based Bop Radio family. Since it's an Internet station, though — no air breaks, no local ads — you might never know it was based in Houston. Naturally that got us thinking that it might be a good time to see how many other Internet stations we have in our midst.
AMPZ INTERNET RADIO
Platforms: WinAmp, Windows Media, iTunes, RealPlayer
No. of Channels: Five: Ampz Adult, Ampz Country, Ampz Hits, Ampz Classic Rock, Ampz Edge
Extra Features: Online store if you feel the need for Ampz mouse pads or coffee mugs.
Specialty Programs? Not as such, but jocks seem to have at least some input into the playlist.
Sweepers/Ads?* Sweepers, but not that many
*Note: "Sweepers" is radio lingo for sound bites announcing a station's ID and a quick slogan.
Live DJs? Mostly. The jocks on Ampz Adult are especially entertaining.
In-Studio Concerts? Not that we heard
Mobile App? No
Local Accent: Only on-the-air breaks
Grade: B-plus. Careful clicking on some links, but overall Ampz runs pretty smoothly. Within the individual channels, the rotation is much deeper than a comparable format on commercial radio would be, but just as up-to-date. We love Ampz Adult, which has much more variety than the others (and cuss words).
Platforms: On-site, iTunes, TuneIn.com
Sample Artists: LCD Soundsystem, New Pornographers, Houston rapper Preemo
No. of Channels: One
Extra Features: blog with music videos, show recaps (Raekwon), album reviews, music news
Specialty Programs? Abundant
Ads/Sweepers? Not so much
Live DJs? Most of the time. Real students, too.
In-Studio Concerts? Yes
Mobile App? Coming soon, they say
Local Accent: Heavy, heavy, heavy. Coog Radio just celebrated its third birthday. Salud!
Grade: B. Site is a little buggy, but the music is solid. Feels like an old-school college radio station.
Platforms: iTunes, Windows Media, VLC
Format: Defiantly free-form, plus Rice sporting events
Sample Artists: B L A C K I E, Tame Impala, Indonesian popular music, Cookie Monster (yes, the Sesame Street character)
No. of Channels: One
Extra Features: Top 35 playlists; KTRU Instagram
Specialty Programs? A bundle
Sweepers/Ads? Are you kidding? On KTRU?
Live DJs? Oh yes
In-Studio Concerts? Occasionally. "The Local Show" airs 8 p.m. Tuesdays.
Mobile App? Yes
Local Accent: KTRU seems to be doing fine, notwithstanding all that drama a few years back when U of H yanked it off the air after buying its FM frequency and signal tower. Instant karma's gonna get you.
LOCAL LIVE HOUSTON
Platforms: Winamp, Windows Media
Sample Artists: Robin Kirby, FLCON FCKER, Days N Daze, Peekaboo Theory, Devil Killing Moth
No. of Channels: One
Extra Features: Small archive of specialty shows and in-studio performances
Specialty Programs? A few
Live DJs? On specialty shows
In-Studio Concerts? Occasionally
Mobile App: Via TuneIn
Local Accent: That's all it is. If you are a local band or musician, Local Live Houston will play your music.
Grade: B-plus. No frills, but none needed.
Sample Artists: Geto Boys, Z-Ro, 5th Ward Boyz, Fat Pat, Blac Monks, AllDay
Format: Rap, R&B
No. of Channels: One
Extra Features: On-demand radio; "Ram It Or Jam It" challenge; plenty of videos and interviews; new releases available for streaming. Lots of shit.
Specialty Programs? Many
Sweepers/Ads? Ads on site, not on air (that we heard)
Live DJs? Definitely
In-Studio Concerts? One would think
Mobile App? Via TuneIn
Local Accent: Chopped and screwed
Grade: A. If you're looking to keep up with Houston rap, look here first.
ROCK 101 KLOL
Platforms: Flash, WinAmp, iTunes, Windows Media
Format: "Active Rock," harder classic rock
Sample Artists: Alice In Chains, Breaking Benjamin, Chickenfoot, and so forth through the alphabet
No. of Channels: One
Other Features: Puny, somewhat outdated concert calendar; Ultimate Classic Rock news blog
Specialty Programs? A couple
Sweepers/Ads? Yes, including brief life tips from ex-KLOL FM jock Dayna Steele
Live DJs? "Outlaw Radio" weeknights with Scotty Miller; "The Grind" Saturday nights with Tommy D Kat
In-Studio Concerts? No
Mobile App: Yes
Local Accent: Not a whole lot outside Stevie Ray Vaughan and ZZ Top, but did play a King's X deep cut ("Cigarettes") while we were listening.
Grade: B-minus. Could be so much more, especially as an extension of the classic KLOL brand. To be fair, is obviously a work in progress.
Ask Willie D
A youth-football coach is getting a little rowdy with his players.
Dear Willie D:
My son's football coach is a nutcase. He has slapped, punched and kicked many of his players. Yes, football is a tough sport, but under no circumstances should any kid — especially a 13-year-old — be subjected to that type of abuse. He has also gotten into physical confrontations with several parents. When parents voice their concerns to school administrators, our complaints fall on deaf ears.
Their lack of followup has a lot to do with the fact that the team has won championships three out of the past four years. Although the coach has not put his hands on my son, he has cursed him. As a mother, I don't want anybody cursing at my child, but at the same time my son can be lazy and I don't want to get in the way of him doing what it takes to motivate him.
I've heard more than one parent threaten to file charges on the coach for assault, but nobody really wants to go that far. Doing so would hurt the football program, and nobody wants to be the reason that the team breaks from its winning tradition. I would like to know if you've ever experienced dealing with an abusive coach as an athlete or parent, and if so, how did you handle it?
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I played varsity football in high school and the coach was pretty average in the physical and emotional abuse department. He would push you, curse you out and call you a sorry bum, but that's about it. Hell, those were pleasantries compared to my mother's actions. My home life made my skin tough, so if my coach flipped out on me, I went harder the next time. But everybody is not built that way.
I like to win. So I don't mind coaches getting up in a kid's face to motivate him. But some coaches take it too far. Because they have poor communication skills, rather than inspiring, they demean and break spirits. The coaches who get away with abuse are mostly the ones who have programs that operate like a secret society. They'll tell you, "Don't tell your parents what goes on here." The less parents are involved, the greater the chance a rogue coach has of operating with impunity.
Coaches have a lot of power over athletes, especially coaches with winning programs and the ones with the ability to influence college and pro scouts. Because of that, administrators and in some cases parents will look the other way. I'm not that smart. If a coach punched or publicly humiliated my son, I might look the other way, but it wouldn't be to excuse his actions. It would be to find something to bust him across his head with.
Ask Willie D appears Thursday mornings on Rocks Off.