The phone call came just a few minutes before Common was set to take the Kennedy Plaza stage to headline Friday night’s concert at Riverfest.
The person on the other end told Roy Moye III, an aerospace engineer at Spirit AeroSystems by day and a gospel singer by night, to be on standby. So the Wichita transplant nervously paced back and forth near Century II, waiting to see whether he would be summoned on stage by the two-time Grammy Award-winning artist.
Sure enough, at the end of his nearly hourlong set, Common told the crowd of thousands a story of happenstance on how he met his friend “Roy.” Next thing Moye remembers, he was on stage with Common belting out the chorus of the same “Glory” song that won the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
“It was crazy, one of those moments you dream of,” Moye said. “I was so nervous, but I knew it was this huge moment and I couldn’t be timid. I mean, he didn’t win an Academy Award for nothing. It is such a powerful song, and when I was up on that stage, I felt like I belonged. One day I will be doing this full time, and one day this is where I’m going to be.”
This was not how Moye, who is originally from Raytown, Mo., and is a Wichita State graduate, imagined his night going when he woke up on Friday.
He started the day by half-jokingly tweeting at Common and volunteering to fill in for John Legend if he wanted to perform “Glory” at the concert later that night. Moye has a wealth of singing experience. He has sung the national anthem at Oklahoma City Thunder and Kansas City Royals games; he’s auditioned for “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “X Factor”; and he’s released a seven-track extended play “Coming Back.”
Moye never got a response to his tweet, but that didn’t diminish his hope.
Since he is a mentor in the Real Men Real Heroes program in Wichita, Moye was included in a VIP meet-and-greet with the Chicago-born rapper on Friday afternoon.
“I kept telling my co-workers that if I get to meet him, I’m going to shoot my shot,” Moye said. “I pretty much convinced myself. I just kept saying I’m going to shoot my shot.”
When the time came, Moye introduced himself to Common as a local gospel singer and suggested he could sing the chorus on “Glory” if Common wanted to perform it later that night. The rapper acknowledged the offer but continued on with the meet-and-greet.
Moye figured that was a polite way of saying “no, thanks,” only to be shocked when Common pulled him aside after the final group picture to ask him whether he was legitimate. Moye responded the only way he knew how: by singing the opening lines of “Glory.”
His voice passed the test, and later Moye would find himself in the dressing room of Common in Century II rehearsing the song with Common himself.
“I just kept thinking that even if this is all that happens and I don’t get to go on stage, this is still amazing,” Moye said.
What Moye didn’t know was that the back-up singer who typically sings the part for Common had to miss the Wichita concert. Common wasn’t even sure whether he would perform the song on Friday night.
That is, until Moye came along.
“I truly believe God set this up for me so perfectly,” Moye said. “I give all the glory to God, because that’s who I am and that’s what I do.”
Although the song isn’t considered gospel, Moye felt like the verses he was singing were.
“One day when the glory comes, it will be ours, it will be ours” is how the song begins. With his powerful soulful voice booming through the speakers, Moye turned it into a gospel song on Friday night.
“I really feel like I started to minister up there,” Moye said. “As soon as I started singing, I felt like I was home out there. I kept looking at Common and he kept pointing at me and egging me on to keep going. It was just this awesome moment. I felt like we just had this connection.”
Instead of performing like a local artist overwhelmed by the moment, Moye capitalized on his opportunity on stage with Common. He looked and sounded like he belonged.
It’s a break that could jump-start the career Moye so badly wants in gospel music.
But that’s not what he was concerned with late Friday night, an hour after his performance.
“I just hope that somebody needed to hear that song,” Moye said. “No matter what they are going through or what they’re struggling with, I hope that song gave them hope. Even if it was just one person. That would be enough for me.”