Previously Known For: As Roger Evans on Sister, Sister
|Currently Known For: R&B Singer and Songwriter Known for Albums like MH, Naked, Veteran and Famous|
“Go home, Roger!” Known to his fans as “Batman” since first taking the stage in the early 1990s, Marques Barrett Houston came into this world on August 4, 1981 in Los Angeles, California as the third of four children born to Carolyn and Michael Houston. As soon as he could talk, Houston knew he was destined to perform and spent his childhood entertaining his family before he was old enough to start a band of his own. Teaming up with friends like Jerome “Romeo” Jones, Don “Half Pint” Santos, and Chris Stokes to form the R&B group known as Immature, Houston took the stage as Batman for the first time as Immature booked dozens of smaller venues throughout Los Angeles.
While Immature built their reputation among Los Angeles’ hip night scene, Houston pursued his other passion for acting and made his feature film debut as the voice of Khalil in the 1992 animated comedy, Bébé’s Kids. The following year, he guest-starred in an episode of A Different World and returned to film in 1994 when he starred as Marques James in House Party 3. By then, Houston’s confidence as an actor soared, which made him the perfect fit for the part of Roger Evans—the nerdy and annoying neighbor on a new series starring identical twins Tia and Tamera Mowry called Sister, Sister. As Sister, Sister blossomed on ABC and then on The WB network, Houston became a fan favorite and spent the next five seasons on the series where he was known as the butt of many jokes ending with the sisters yelling, “Go home, Roger!”
Wrapping up Sister, Sister in 1999 and returning for the series finale in 2000, Houston pursued his music career with Immature and joined the band for a cameo in Destiny Child’s “No, No, No Part 1” music video before they released their debut album—Introducing IMx—in 1999. With Houston having already appeared in popular series like Family Matters and The Parent ‘Hood, he returned to film where he joined Kel Mitchell and Kenan Thompson in Good Burger before starring as Jon Jon in House Party 4: Down to the Last Minute. Coincidentally, Immature also worked on the soundtrack for the film and followed up with their second album, IMx, in 2001.
“I learned that music is definitely my first love,” Houston said of dabbling between acting and music. “Sometimes, when you go away from it you start doing other things. Like Justin Timberlake when he started acting, rumors were out there that he wasn’t going to make another album, but then he came back so powerful. As an artist, sometimes when you’re doing other things, you can kind of forget where your passion lies, but when you get back in the studio it’s like, ‘Oh, okay, now I see. This is what I was born to do.’”
Realizing music was his true passion, Houston stepped away from Immature in 2003 and launched his solo career with the release of MH that included hit singles like “Pop That Booty,” “Clubbin” and “That Girl.” The album climbed to the top 20 on the Billboard 200 chart as Houston made his foray back into acting with credits in Rock Me Baby, American Dreams, and One on One before he returned to the silver screen as Elgin Barrett Eugene Smith III in You Got Served in 2004. He then starred as Dumb Donald in Bill Cosby’s Fat Albert film reboot and, after finding moderate success on One on One, decided to launch a spinoff called Cuts, which lasted for two seasons from 2005 to 2006. The series wasn’t a huge success and left Houston wanting more as he made his way back to the silver screen where he starred in Somebody Help Me in 2007. He later reprised his role as Brendan Young in Somebody Help Me 2 in 2010 and followed up with a starring role in the sci-fi dance flick, Boogie Town.
With little else happening in his acting career, Houston focused on his music career and released his 2005 album, Naked, followed by Veteran in 2007. “I think I grow everyday musically as far as my ear and what I like to listen to,” he said of the album. “I’ve grown even since I recorded this album… If I were to make an album today it would sound different. My ear for music is everywhere, and you kind of get with it. You don’t want to be left behind. It’s like R&B, hip hop, pop, rock and alternative. I love all kinds of music. This album is what I’ve always wanted to do. It has a lot of love songs. It’s got a lot of my stories. But, every day I record music, it definitely grows.”
Houston released Mr. Houston in 2009 and Mattress Music in 2010 followed by Immature’s special release of 106 & Park in 2011. Then, in 2013, he surprised his fans with his Famous album, which revealed his unique vocal style and his musical inspirations from Michael Jackson to Prince and Marvin Gaye. “A lot of my musical inspirations were the old school artists… with this album, I didn’t want to make it sound like anyone else’s album out there,” he said. “I stopped listening to the radio, stopped watching videos. I didn’t watch TV for three months while I recorded the album. It’s blues, it’s rhythmic, it’s jazzy. I wanted to create what I call a masterpiece for my fans… I put my heart and soul into this album. I want them to hear my passion and my love that bleeds through this album.”
Turning up the heat with Famous, Houston continues to work on new music and, after nine years, returned to television in 2015 in Will to Love. In 2016, he starred as Travis Stankershet in A Weekend with the Family and, as of 2018, is set to reprise his role as Brendan Young in Somebody Help Me 3. Beyond that, the 36-year-old Houston turned heads in 2016 when he became a Jehovah’s Witness, citing that his new faith has definitely impacted his career and his music. “It definitely affects the kind of music I’m able to make and not just able to make, but the kind of music that I would like to make,” he says. “I would like to make music that’s more clean cut… You’ll see music that inspires people to love and just live life and feel good music.”
As for his future as an actor and musician, Houston promises to share his talent wherever and whenever he can. “I don’t really make music to be this huge star,” he says. “I make music for people to feel happy with my music and the people that actually support me, that’s all I care about. I care about the people that want the music. I make the music for them.” For Houston, his success really is all about his fans and his passion!