Adriana Roy, Amoura Teese and BeBe Sweetbriar
Interviewed by Frank Fanucchi
Photos by Justin Barrett
If you live in or frequent any bay area LGBTQIA spots, you have definitely seen, heard and are aware of Adriana Roy, Amoura Teese, and BeBe Sweetbriar. Any given weekend, these three queens can be found hosting, performing, singing and raising money for local and global charities.
Adriana Roy is originally from Santa Rosa, CA, and works as a bartender at Beaux in the Castro, SF, where she also hosts Big Top Sundays. Adriana has been hosting events and singing live since the early 2010’s at venues throughout the Bay and beyond.
Amoura Teese, a San Francisco native, is a regular host at The Port Bar in Oakland. Hosting Karaoke for a Cause, Twerkback Thursdays and RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties, among others. Under alternate stage name, Jericho Rose, she has released several recorded songs since 2015. Amoura is also a very talented seamstress and designer, creating most of her own fashions as well as looks for other queens.
BeBe Sweetbriar, hailing from Sacramento, CA, has been an SF nightlife staple since the early 2000’s and is well known for her philanthropy, celebrity interviews, event hosting (currently hosting Castro Karaoke at Midnight Sun in SF), and multiple recording hits that have made her an International recording artist and producer.
Leaders in gay nightlife and community, these three recently joined forces to form A2B: A diverse singing Supergroup of talented drag queens. I had the opportunity to chat with these three before the release of their debut single ‘Read My Mind’, coming out June 26th.
Traditionally, singing groups are formed first, then after making their mark as a group, the individual artists will breakout into solo careers. With A2B, the three of you have done the exact opposite. All of you started out solo, and have had quite a bit of success locally, and abroad. How did this collaboration come to fruition?
BeBe Sweetbriar (BS): I was in the midst of thinking about what song I want to release to launch my new record label Nothing Sweeter Than Music when it occurred to me that it would be better to actually dig right into the mission of my label which is to give an opportunity to my queer and trans brothers and sisters, to record and release their music. So, I decided to ask two people I adore and respect to join me on my label’s first single.
Adriana Roy (AR): Throughout the years, the three of us have done gigs together and casually mentioned (collaborating) on a project… I’m so thankful to BeBe for making this project a reality. It’s been a fun experience that I feel brought us closer and resulted in a great track!
Amoura Teese (AT): It was definitely initiated by BeBe. I was excited to be approached by her to join the collaboration and I think all three of us have been waiting to see this happen on the forefront of the LGBT performance community in San Francisco. There haven’t been any Drag/LGBT music groups of this caliber and representation, so I hope we set it off!
Speaking of representation, had you considered that a group of three racially diverse minorities of the LGBTQIA community coming together, might be exactly what today’s political climate needed?
AR: 100% this is what this political climate and our community need and hopefully crave!
BS: For me, it was kind of a combination of working together and making a statement on LGBTQIA unity. I mean, anything we do or don’t do is a political statement, isn’t it? So, knowing that, why not take advantage of this opportunity to show how much stronger or better we can be when we work together rather than apart.
Amoura, under your male stage name, Jericho Rose, you released an EP titled ‘Waking Up in the Suburbs’ with 4 original urban-pop tracks. Additionally, you’ve released a single titled ‘Ain’t Nobody’. Your sound is distinctly you with clear R&B inspirations. What artists have most inspired you and your sound? Are there other musically inclined members in your family?
AT: Jericho Rose needs his own interview first of all (laughs)! No but really, Jericho Rose is a stage name I established for myself in previous years of me producing/writing my own music before venturing off into Drag Performance. All of my musical influences definitely come from old school classics to 90’s R&B. And I believe I’m the only performer in my family… at least the only one whose pursued a performing arts career.
Adriana, you have come so far! I remember you singing live way back in 2013 and being shocked at how good you were even then. Now as host of Big Top Sundays at Beaux in the Castro, and hosting/performing at other events around the bay and beyond – you are able to showcase your singing talents regularly. I, and I think a lot of people who have followed your career are excited to be able to hear you on a track as opposed to in a loud busy club. Nothing beats a live performance, but your vocals really do shine through in this song. Can we expect more recordings to come?
AR: Thank you so much! It’s been a long time coming for sure. I’ve been hyping up making my own music for a while now and I’m happy to say it’s definitely in the works. Fingers crossed for some original material to drop later this year to coincide with my birthday tour in December. I can’t say too much thus far, but I’m excited for people to hear what’s to come!
Now BeBe, your no stranger to recording or performing live. With nearly a dozen tracks to your name, both covers and original pieces, and having toured the bay and even overseas with your music… you’ve decided to add yet another hat to your ever-growing list of abilities. That of producer. Not only are you the ‘B’ in A2B, bringing your best vocals to this groups debut release, but you also acquired and produced this track. How do you go about choosing a song, especially one from the early 70’s originally sung by a single artist, and make it feel current and perfectly balanced with three singers?
BS: Well, yes, ‘Read My Mind’ is a version of ‘If You Could Read My Mind’ by Gordon Lightfoot released in the 70s, sort of a folk type song. The acoustic guitar used in our version pays homage to the original. But the Lightfoot song was first remade in the 90’s by another Supergroup, Stars On 54 consisting of solo artists Amber, Ulta Naté and Jocelyn Enrique. Our version keeps with the danceable rhythms of the Stars On 54 version. So, as I said earlier, I originally planned to do this song as a solo piece for my new label, but later made a better decision to include Adrianna and Amoura.
So I hear that the three of you went into record this track and finished with an hour left on the clock! For anyone that doesn’t know, this is a rarity, even for the most seasoned artists and especially for groups. Studio time almost always goes over. Being able to successfully record a track with three solos and everyone’s adlibs under the allotted time is remarkable. It’s clear from hearing the track that nothing was sacrificed or lacking in the vocals. Being that most of you are used to only recording solo, what was it like to collaborate in the studio this way? Were there any unforeseen challenges, or was it easier than a solo session?
AT: I think the challenges were, first, Getting the harmonies right on the hook, and second, deciding what we wanted our adlibs to sound like as it’s a dance track and we all have more soulful vocal stylings.
AR: I personally loved working with the girls. We were able to vibe off one another and collaborate really well as a group. Of course, it was BeBe’s original vision, but I feel like we were all able to add our own flare and put our personality into it. If anything, I think having each other there while recording pushed us to make the track that much better (and) on point.
BS: If truth be told, I really enjoy singing with others. I mostly hear harmonies, rather than melodies, in my head. So, for me this collaboration was great. We did record our harmonies together in the studio, which I know many artist collaborations are not done that way. In putting the vocal arrangement together, I tried to play on the strengths of each of us to structure the songs flow. I’m a traditional singer who doesn’t use many vocal runs or tricks, so I lead the song so that the vocals can build as the music builds. Amoura and Adriana’s style of singing as soloists played out well in the vocal build up in the song… they both have a good ear for music and are able to blend well when singing with others. That’s not always easy to find in strong soloists. We were also all present with the other two producers, Pumpkin Spice and Bugie, when we laid down our solo vocals in renowned producer Leo Frappier’s studio. I was very impressed how Amoura and Adriana came in and just knocked it out. Very professional.
None of you are strangers to a lip sync or live vocal performance. BeBe, you tend to prefer singing large songs from classic artists like Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, and Jennifer Holiday. Adriana, you love a good pop ballad, and Amoura you seem to gravitate more to pop songs with indie or urban influence. How do you go about choosing the songs you perform. What makes a good song to lip-sync vs singing live?
AR: I love my pop ballads! Going off of my performances, I obviously love Adele, Sam Smith and Rihanna. The nice thing about what we do is we get to be in control of what and how we perform. The difference between a live performance and lip sync really depends on my connection to the artist/song and what I can bring to the song.
AT: I always choose music for my moods; I have a trusty library of tracks & mixes that I’ve built over time that has a spectrum of genres & moods depending on my mood and the gig. Singing live, I always try to choose songs that are in my vocal range and where I can best showcase my abilities. And of course, choosing songs that are classic and popular are always good to go with.
BS: I only choose songs to perform that I really connect with. It doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t the most popular thing out there. On stage, the ultimate thing is to be entertaining, I don’t think you can be the best entertainer if you don’t believe in what your performing. Lip sync vs. Live singing? Easy, if my vocal interpretation of a song does the song justice, I sing it, otherwise I lip sync for my life!
You three are at the top of the leaderboard for most booked queens in the Bay Area, often going from one gig to the next in the same day to host/perform. That much mic time can mess up anyone’s vocal cords, especially in a loud crowded club. What do you do to make sure your vocal cords don’t get exhausted?
BS: Plenty of 20-minute power naps during the day, and minimal alcohol.
AT: It’s really hard to keep the pipes always in full function especially when our schedules don’t always allow us appropriate rest time and we’re around so much alcohol, which is not good for the vocal cords. I myself make sure I always do some vocal warm-ups before performing and I practice the song as much as possible before the gig!
AR: It can be rough to say the least. Let’s face it clubs are not the easiest places to perform. They’re loud, the sound system isn’t always what you need it to be, etc. But the show must go on. I’ve learned tricks to navigate through the issue. Lots of hot tea, room temperature water, and throat drops help. I’ve also learned it’s smart to know when it’s just better to do a lip sync performance as opposed to straining or having to overcome technical issues.
Can we expect to see A2B performing live together this pride season?
AR: Yes! We will have the LIVE debut of A2B on Pride Sunday for my show Big Top Sundays at Beaux. We have a special early show at 8pm featuring the debut performance of our single “Read My Mind” plus individual performances.
Looking forward to it! Alright, so being that there are three of you I thought we would end this interview with a handful of Rapid Fire: Top 3 questions. Are you Ready? Here we go…
3 best girl groups?
AR: The Supremes, Spice Girls, and Destiny’s Child.
AT: Destiny’s Child, En Vogue, and TLC.
BS: The Supremes, En Vogue, and Destiny’s Child.
3 words that best describe you?
AR: Passionate, driven, and creative.
AT: Talented, unfiltered, and fabulous!
BS: Gregarious, Creator, and Nurturer.
3 queens that have influenced you?
AR: BeBe Sweetbriar, Sister Roma, and Peaches Christ.
AT: RuPaul, Alyssa Edwards, and Valentina.
BS: Sister Roma, Shangela, and Juanita MORE.
3 items you can’t live without?
AR: Music, my phone, and water.
AT: My phone, headphones, and my Sewing Machine.
BS: Red lipstick, music, and Whitney Houston.
3 artists you’re currently listening to?
AR: Ariana Grande, P!nk, and Lauryn Hill.
AT: Kehlani, Sabrina Claudio, and Dua Lipa.
BS: Lizzo, Jess Glynne, and Chaka Khan.
3 people dead or alive that you would want to meet and why?
AR: Oprah, because she is all inspiring and I grew up watching The Oprah Winfrey Show. Ellen Degeneres, for all she does for the LGBTQIA community and for the boundaries she’s broken down. And Elton John, because I was raised on his music and he is a big musical influence for me.
AT: Selena, my first idol. Mariah Carey, amazing singer/songwriter. And my next Sugar Daddy, for obvious reasons (laughs).
3 female leaders you stand behind?
AR: Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Marsha P. Johnson.
AT: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Beyoncé, and Michelle Obama.
BS: Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Laverne Cox.
3 up-and-coming Bay Area queens to watch out for?
AR: Poppy, Elektra Befierce, and Alpha Andromeda.
AT: Frida Mont, Black Opal Munro, and Nitrix Oxide.
BS: Frida Mont, Black Opal Munro, and Primadonna.
A2B’s debut single ‘Read my Mind’ featuring Adriana Roy, Amoura Teese & BeBe Sweetbriar with Pumpkin Spice & Bugie releases on music streaming platforms everywhere June 26th.
TO FIND OUT MORE VISIT:
A2B: Instagram @a2b_sf // #A2BSF
BeBe Sweetbriar: Instagram @bebesweetbriar
Adriana Roy: Instagram @theadrianaroy
Amoura Teese: Instagram @amourateese