Ms. Gray is a proud mama.
It is the first really chilly night of the year, and Gray is fighting a sore throat, but she remains firmly planted at the head table in the House of Blues' Elwood Room. A waiter brings her a cup of hot tea with honey, and she is grateful.
"I hope this makes me feel a little better," she says.
Behind her, the wind chill blows through a tree's branches furiously, contrasting with the warm red tones of the Elwood Room and the funky tunes playing overhead -- "Ladies Night," "Word Up," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered."
"Hand me that sugar," she says to a friend seated beside her. "I want real sugar!"
With a Cincinnati Reds baseball game playing on a TV in the room's center, the scene looks like one of easy domesticity, as if Gray's husband might come in at any moment and plop down with a nice cold one. As it would happen, Gray is out on a Saturday night to celebrate. She is mother to another Ms. Gray -- Mykel Gray, that is -- who performs under the moniker Miss Mykie and has just been handpicked to be the new host of BET's music-video countdown show 106 & Park.
Ms. Gray is undoubtedly a proud mama.
Mykie enters minutes later; her bubbly charm and fierce curly Mohawk brighten the subdued red room. She's only been on the job for a week, but she already behaves like a polished professional, flashing a bright smile, a "Hi, how are you?" and a warm hug to everyone present.
But it's easy to be pleasant after bouncing from being a local talent to hosting a bastion of urban culture. "I feel blessed, says Mykie about being chosen as a host. "It was something that I didn't expect."
Musically, Houston is not unacquainted with the national spotlight; Miss Mykie continues in the tradition of local-to-national artists: Beyonce rocketed into the pop stratosphere via Destiny's Child; Bun B is beheld with reverence as a rap titan and veteran, his "trill" saying and late UGK partner Pimp C quoted from the mouths of Bieber-era teens; and upcoming rappers Doughbeezy and Kirko Bangz are recent invitees. She's in good company.
Mykie's road to 106 & Park began as a guest co-hosting gig in July. Once the stint was done, she came back home, thinking that was that, but BET had other plans.
"They had me come out three times," she says, explaining that she didn't know she was actually trying out for a permanent position.
The third time must've the charm, for Mykie was finally offered the job. She joins three other cast members for the show's new lineup: Bow Wow, Kimberly "Paigion" Walker and Shorty da Prince. Mykie currently flies in between cities to tape, but she's planning on making a permanent move soon.
"I'm living in a hotel in [New York City] right now," says Mykie.