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Karma chameleon

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Nashville, Tenn.-based pop-rock singer Steve Moakler has boatloads in common with current tourmate, Oklahoma City’s own Graham Colton: Having got national attention at young ages, they boast all-American looks and a knack for crafting songs that get the ladies swooning.

But chief among their similarities?

An unabashed love of ’90s alt-pop acts like Goo Goo Dolls and Better Than Ezra.

“That’s my favorite music, secretly.

Actually, not very secretly,” Moakler said. “I can tell a lot of his inspiration is from that same era, and there aren’t that many guys still pooling from that, but he still is. That’s what I appreciate about him.”

The common bonds go deeper than music. A heart for charity makes their shared appearance at Colton’s fourth-annual Thanksgiving benefit show for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma all the more serendipitous.

Moakler founded his own charity this year, Free the Birds, which helps support victims of human sex trafficking by selling T-shirts, music and custom birdhouses made by Moakler and, as of recently, painted by residents of the safe house the organization helps fund.

He started it after realizing how much of his job — songs, pictures, merchandise — was centered around him, and asked himself, “What am I really doing besides serving myself?” “Music is an awesome thing, and it’s for everyone, but I felt the desire to serve something bigger than myself,” Moakler said. “It gave more meaning to what I do. It’s sort of inviting people to be a part of a better story than going to a show and buying music.”

That generosity was reciprocated when it came time to record his new album, “Watching Time Run.” Fans pledged more than $20,000 to help him finish the record. In return, he put forth the effort to make the best album he could.

“I felt really humbled and supported and wanted to do them right. I think I wrote over 90 songs for this record,” he said. “There was a larger pool and larger investment of time in writing, and it paid off. I have a batch of songs I love sharing with people and am still excited about.”

When the record was released in late August, fans pushed it into iTunes’ Top 20. The disc reflects the good vibes he currently enjoys, with not only his musical success, but the realization of his dream charity project. He couldn’t be happier.

“I wanted to make a record that was more lively. The last one was reflective and had a melancholy feel to it mostly,” Moakler said. “This time, I wanted to make a record that spoke life and truth, instead of just evaluating my feelings. I feel like we did that.”

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