THE INTERVIEW HAS to be conducted over the phone, and Rana Nawas answers on yet another day without electricity. It's February, and Texas is crippled by the polar vortex. Still, Nawas is calm and collected, answering questions while fielding requests from her four- and six-year-old children. Having the interview by voice is quite appropriate, given that Nawas is a podcast star. Her show, When Women Win, launched in 2017; today it broadcasts in 181 countries and receives as many as 18,000 downloads per episode.

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ALEX HOWARD, 25, misses the bands, the energy of the crowd, and the floors shaking at Fitzgerald's. Not only is the storied concert venue of indie Houston lore gone, the Covid-19 pandemic has nearly silenced the local live-music scene entirely. As a music photographer, Howard's work has also seen a final curtain of sorts. She just had a gallery show at Phoenicia's MKT BAR in Downtown, A Year Without Live Music, featuring portraits and concert shots of around 30 artists — including Erykah Badu and Tame Impala — but otherwise things have been uncomfortably quiet.

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OVER THE LAST decade, this city has experienced an influx of diverse, ambitious individuals eager to make the most of Houston's opportunities — and the pandemic isn't slowing that trend. Last year, Cherif Mbodji moved from New York to H-Town to help open a fine-dining concept — one that not only debuted during Covid, but has thrived, becoming a culinary standout. At Bludorn, tables are booked and reviews are glowing; at home, Mbodji's family is taking to its new city with enthusiasm.

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Food