How does a once (OK, four-times!) married, straight mother of three, grandmother of four, and great-grandmother of four more become an icon to Houston’s LGBTQ community? It begins with a larger-than-life personae possessing a musical and comedic talent that led Marsha Carlton (known to many of her fans as simply “Grandma”) on a 35-year journey of entertaining from small cabaret clubs to local and national professional theatres to touring with award-winning musicals across the country. She has shared the spotlight with famous performers such as Juliet Prowse, Anthony Newley, Maxine Andrews (of the famous Andrews Sisters), Madelaine Kahn and Bob Hope.
She maintained a position as a senior accountant with Service Corporation International for 20 years, even while occasionally touring with touring shows like Hello, Dolly!, 42nd Street and Follies in productions in both Houston and Seattle. She has fond memories of meeting and spending time with celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Edie Adams, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Liza Minnelli.
She is proud of her constant presence in the community at dozens of fundraising events, lending her singing talents and her virtuoso at comedy. But, her greatest visibility comes from her 30-year gig hosting Thursday and Sunday nights karaoke shows at JR.’s Bar & Grill in the heart of Montrose. Carlton proudly speaks of how she, after a brief trial run by a karaoke company, took the reins and developed the format and substance (including a 40,000 song library) that is used still. She guided the karaoke standard into various formats including Broadway show tunes, sing-alongs and karaoke contests.
Unfortunately, Carlton left JR.’s stage for a long hospital stay and, hopefully, soon-to-be-home care. She will still need recovery time, but hopes to be well enough to make a public appearance at the end of April. On Sunday, April 29, JR.’s Bar & Grill will do for Carlton what she has done for so many others: host a fundraising event to offset her mounting medical bills and personal survival expenses. That evening, this woman who has spent decades helping others will see the tables turn and graciously (and humbly) accept a hand up from a community that will, no doubt, step up to assist and say “thank you.”
Multiple performers will be present to entertain; donations will be collected via raffle items and gift baskets available. A video presentation is also planned. If she is able to attend, it would not be surprising to see Carlton take a microphone and do what she loves most: to entertain others.
WHAT: Fundraiser for Marsha Carlton
WHEN: Sunday, April 29, 2018, 6 p.m. ’til 2 a.m.
WHERE: JR.’s Bar & Grill, 808 Pacific Street
INFO: 713- 521-2519