Life to book to movie: ‘Same Kind of Different’ opens

Same Kind of Different as Me

Same Kind of Different as Me

Opens Oct. 20

Dealt one of the worst hands life had to offer, Denver Moore turned his circumstances into a life-changing opportunity for others.

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Among those who knew him well is Cabin Record Co. and Axon Entertainment founder and CEO Chuck Ebert, an eight-time Grammy nominee. It was with Ebert that Moore released Makin’ a Difference, an album that tells Moore’s story in his own voice and features rare recordings of him preaching and singing.

It also features the single “Same Kind of Different as Me,” performed by Grammy-contending artist Katy Gaby, Ebert’s wife. The song is in the movie of the same name, scheduled for release by Paramount Pictures on Oct. 20.

“I had a copy of the book Same Kind of Different As Me sitting on the piano and Katy had just finished reading it,” Ebert recalled. “She said, ‘You should write a song,’ and I said, ‘Well, if it hits me, I will.'”

It hit Ebert. That night at 2 a.m. he got out of bed and wrote most of it in about 30 minutes.

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“Katy had played something musically I really liked earlier that evening that would fit nicely and I knew we had something special,” he said.

The song, the book and the movie tell the same story. Moore, a former inmate in Louisiana’s Angola Prison, was befriended by wealthy international art dealer Ron Hall when they met at the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth.

Their friendship began in 1998 when Moore was homeless on the streets of Fort Worth. Cut to 2006, when Moore was honored as Fort Worth’s Philanthropist of the Year after their story inspired people to donate millions of dollars to help the homeless.

Hall and Moore became best friends through Hall’s wife, Deborah. When she was dying of cancer, Moore helped her carry on the ministry she had started. The story details the how two men from different upbringings can bridge even the widest cultural gap through a common bond.

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The movie stars Oscar nominees Djimon Hounsou as Moore and Greg Kinnear as Hall. Academy Award winner Renee Zellweger portrays Deborah and Oscar-winner Jon Voight is also in the cast.

The story of Moore and Hall also affected the lives of Ebert and Gaby, who would become an integral part of Moore’s tale.

Ebert met Moore at Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Fort Worth in 2007. In fact, he and his wife surprised Moore with her performing the song at that night’s event spotlighting the book.

“I was helping with the audio/video production and my wife was the music director,” Ebert said. “Afterwards, when we were closing up, Denver approached me and said, ‘Man, we should do a CD together. I got some songs and speaking parts. Miss Sadie (that’s what he called Katy) could play them, and I could speak over them.’

“I told him, I’d like that. We immediately became close friends.”

Ebert and Moore worked on several projects together for about four years until Moore’s health deteriorated and he died in March 2012 in Dallas.

“We had some fun as well traveling together with Katy singing and Denver speaking, but it was cut short due to his health,” Ebert said. “We talked almost every other night. Well, we laughed more than we talked. He was so funny and we would crack each other up for hours on end.”

Ebert said he could listen to Moore’s stories for hours. From hopping freight trains and traveling around the country, to his brutal 10 years in Angola Prison, to barely having enough change for two chicken wings and sharing with a friend, Ebert said they were all amazing.

One of Moore’s stories, which can be heard on the album, tells of when he went in “The Hole” at Angola weighing 180 pounds and came out weighing less than 100. He called it “Ten Years in Hell,” and he said it was through that experience that he found God and brought hope and light to others around him both in Angola and when he got out.

Ebert said he and Moore often talked about the Bible.

“He quoted scripture like no other and always had a positive outlook,” Ebert said.

Ebert said Moore was one of the kindest and funniest people he ever met. But there was a “leave me alone” side to him for those who didn’t know him, something Ebert said he feels blessed to have gotten past.

Moore didn’t like crowds, but loved people. He didn’t want fame or fortune, but he did want everyone to know God and what being a follow of Christ had done for him.

Ebert said some of his favorite times with Moore were when Moore would visit Ebert’s recording studio in Azle, known as The Cabin. But it wasn’t as much about making a record as simply enjoying life and being in the country.

“We talked about planting a garden, watching the rabbits, and he even considered moving out here,” Ebert said. “I remember the call he gave me that night he died: ‘Just wanted to tell you I love you, man,’ he said.”

Ebert told Moore he loved him also, noticing in his friend’s voice that he wasn’t feeling well and sounded down. Ebert offered to come over and check on him, but Moore said he’d see him later, that he just wanted to let Ebert know he was thinking of him and Katy.

“That’s the last time I spoke to Denver,” Ebert said. “I got a call from a friend that he had passed in the night.

“I have been blessed to call Denver friend. We had some great times laughing together. The book tells much his life, but there is so much more. He impacted people from coast to coast and got through life’s roughest places where most of us would have given up.”

Ebert wishes there were some unreleased recordings of his friend that the world could enjoy anew, but there are none.

“He talked about some recordings prior to the movie in a studio in Nashville but I’m not familiar with any of them,” Ebert said. “We captured as much as was available on his record Makin’ a Difference, which features his voice from radio interviews, snippets from a rare recording he had done when he got out of prison, and Denver singing and tinkling the ivorys, so to speak, at a church revival.

“He also has some really cool experiences, especially about staying the night in a mausoleum and coming out the next morning. People thought he had risen from the dead. That’s on the recording told in his own voice, along with other stories that will bring a smile to the heart.

“He leaves behind a lot to tell this world.”