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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Anyone lucky enough to be in the packed, wall-to-wall audience for Beer City Music Hall’s opening night “secret” show already knows all they need to about OKC’s Nia Moné and her impressive stage presence.

For anyone that wasn’t there, let this be your signal that you need to get on Nia’s level.

Already a part of the Tower Theatre/Ponyboy staff, Moné was tasked to create the wild, pop-collage mural inside their new venue, but she says she never expected to be invited to christen the stage as well.

“I was actually working on the mural for Beer City already,” she told me. “I just so happened to be in one of our events meetings and they were talking about the event and which bands they wanted to open the venue and to my surprise they told me I was first on the bill!”

Music and Film

with Brett Fieldcamp

By True Sky Credit Union

On Thursday night, March 31st, Stephen Tyler and Chad Whitehead, lead operators of Tower, Ponyboy, and now Beer City, took the stage to a rapture of excitement and gratitude from music fans who had been long awaiting the launch of the years-in-development venue. After thanks, toasts, and deafening applause, they announced Moné as the first of the night’s surprise performers, and the first artist to grace the brand-new stage.

“It felt amazing to be up there,” Moné said. “I definitely was nervous right before and even for the first few lines of the first song, but when I realized I had quite a few familiar faces in the front, it made me a lot calmer. It wasn’t so much the size of the crowd that made me nervous, it was how important that event was to the city.”

Once she got into her groove, it was on.

Blending old-school Soul and R&B with the swagger, urgency, and overt sexuality of modern Hip-Hop and Pop, Moné needed only about one minute on stage to capture the audience’s attention. The doors had already been open for a couple hours, the drinks had been flowing fast, and the crowd wanted to dance.

Beer City
The first ever crowd at Beer City Music Hall’s opening night secret show March 2022. (BRETT FIELDCAMP/Okla City Free Press)

The reaction as she was announced and took the stage was big. The reaction when she took the mic and hit her first notes and the band behind her locked into their funk was massive.

Her band deserves every bit of credit as well. Micah Hood’s tasteful, often sparse guitar, Eve Ellsworth absolutely ripping the fluid funk bass lines, Sarafina Byrd, a singer and songwriter in her own right, offering the perfect kind of electric piano textures that good Soul seems to demand, and Isaiah Thomas holding everything down from the back of the stage with his staggering Gospel-derived drum chops.

After running the gamut through energetic funk, heartfelt balladry, and at least one hypersexual slow jam, Moné had all but cemented her status as a seemingly assured “next big thing,” but she still saw fit to spring one more surprise of her own on the audience by inviting up OKC’s resident wunderkind rapper/producer Original Flow to close out the set alongside her.

The energy coming from the stage as Moné gave her thanks and goodnights was one of clear love and respect for this city, and of excitement for what this new venue can be and can mean for the music scene.

And that’s exactly what the Beer City team was betting on when they asked her to be the first to take the stage.

“It was the perfect chance to introduce music fans to some incredible local acts,” Whitehead told me of putting together the closely guarded secret lineup for that night. “Nia Moné represents who’s next in the local scene and I’m not surprised she made a strong impression on fans.”

Stephen Tyler and Chad Whitehead
Stephen Tyler and Chad Whitehead greeting the first ever crowd at Beer City Music Hall March 2022 (BRETT FIELDCAMP/Okla City Free Press)

Moné tells me that she’s readying a May release for her new EP (featuring a guest spot from Original Flow,) but for now, you can find her few singles, along with her own featured spots on tracks by Thomas Who?, Marcellis, and War Mothershed on Apple Music and Spotify.

Follow Nia Moné on Instagram @niaxmone.

And … This!

To coincide with the museum’s Art in Bloom event, featuring breathtaking “flower sculptures” arranged throughout the galleries for one weekend only, Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Noble Theater is presenting “The Rose Maker” Friday, April 8th and Saturday, April 9th.

This French dramatic comedy from director Pierre Pinaud tells the story of an aging florist and horticulturist employing a ragtag band of novices on work release to help save her operation from buyout or bankruptcy.

It’s a feel-good story that’s a perfect pairing to the floral artworks that will be on display all weekend.

For more tickets, show times, and more information, visit okcmoa.com


Last Updated April 5, 2022, 9:57 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor