The story of King's & Queen's

My Magazine 2022/02
7 min
Celebrating one year for King and Queens, they will share with you their story of how they started and what the future will hold for them, a story told by Grace Howell, CEO and Director for the group.

When I first moved to The Gambia, I realised that entertainment was all the same, with cultural groups visiting the same hotels or bars and performing the same routines, and there were no options for a different type of entertainment.

With this realisation, I sat and waited for the right time to put my plan in motion. In February 2021, I decided to move forward with my idea and created the Kings and Queens, Name, Logo and social media pages.

Now it was time to start the audition process, and I had to somehow find the talented people in the Gambia. Starting with Facebook and Instagram, I put out an advert for an open audition for anyone who had talent.

Wednesday 3rd March 2021, the first auditions were held at Kalimba Beach Resort, and around ten auditions were held. We had dance groups, kora players, singers and rappers; all audition.

I was lucky as from one of the groups, there was a young man called Sulayman Barry, who was the leader of the Nyancho Dance team. After seeing his amazing leadership skills and choreography, I instantly offered him a job as a choreographer for the team.

For the whole month of March, we held Auditions each week. Throughout this month, a large number of people came to audition; from here, around 35 dancers were selected to move to the second round for the audition stage.

All 35 dancers were called back together to learn a group routine which Sulayman choreographed for them to learn, and from this final audition, here I selected 21 dancers, which are a mixture of acrobatics and dancers.

From the other auditions, I selected one band and three singers. Once everyone was selected, we had our first meeting, and it was great for everyone in the team to meet each other. In total, I hired 35 people.

Here I had to try and explain my vision and hope they could understand. I promised them that come the next season, they will not need to be out on the streets hustling for small money or going from hotel to hotel trying to perform for very little money.

I wanted to show these people that together, we can create something new and move the entertainment industry not only for tourists but for locals to enjoy also.

In April, we started with rehearsals which took place at Kalimba Beach Resort for the dancers and Serekunda for musicians in the studio.

We trained for seven months, within these months is where unfortunately some people were released from the team, due to absences from the rehearsals and not having the correct attitude and behaviour towards the team. This then left me with a final number of 16 dancers.

My biggest challenge was finding the right location to hold the show. In the Gambia, there are not that many venues available for the type of show that we wanted to perform. After a few weeks of searching, I came across Ebunjan Theatre, which is located in Kanifing. The theatre was built ten years ago and was built and run by a Gambian lady.

In October 2021, we started rehearsals in the theatre so that everyone could get used to the stage, the sound and the atmosphere. 3rd November soon came, and we were set for our first show. Through promotions online, we had around 30 people come to the grand opening show, and it was a success; everyone loved it.

This day filled me with joy from all the hard work we had put in all the sleepless nights I was having; nevertheless, it went great.

A few weeks went by, and online, a lot of comments were being made that the show was not affordable for Gambians to come and watch, so after some adjustments, I decided to offer a Gambian citizen promo that all locals would receive 50% off the tickets.

This helped us along the way with more Gambians coming to watch the show; however, there was something missing from the show and the event itself, and for weeks, I would be asking guests if there could be an improvement, and the main feedback I received was the location.

So the location was too far, guests could not always locate us. It was the first negative thought when entering for the night, so I decided to change.

Luckily I was introduced to a lady Called Binta, who is the manager of Sofa Nyama Restaurant. Located behind the restaurant is a hidden gem, a huge stage with a big open area, set right in the heart of Senegambia. My first thought was, why didn’t I know about this place before.

Then my hustle game turned on. I set out on a mission to move the whole show to Sofa Nyama. After speaking with Binta, I was informed that it was her brother that is the owner, and I needed to set up a meeting with him.

For everyone who is in the Gambia, we all know how long these meetings can take to set up; every day, I called or messaged and basically harassed her until I set the meeting up. Three weeks later, the meeting was arranged.

Within the first meeting, my vision was sold to him; during the meeting, I came to realise that he is on the same journey as me and wants to help the youths of this country and to develop something which will enhance the skills that they have.

Within one week, we came to a final agreement that the show will be moved to Sofa Nyama Centre Stage. We will continue with our weekly show on Wednesdays, and now we will offer you Dinner and the show.

Whilst we stopped the shows at Ebunjan Theatre for three weeks, all my team patiently waited for me to give them the update that we have a new location. 24th January 2022, we all met at Sofa Nyama, and during our meeting, we were discussing what was going to happen; there and then I said, “in life, you can make an impulsive decision, and they turn out for best.” Now I know people will think I'm crazy, but at this moment, I announced I wanted to change the show.

With only one week until our show resumed, this meant go time for us all, that night, within 30 mins, a new show was drafted, and rehearsals started.

Our goal is to provide you with a full entertainment program that has never been seen before in the Gambia. I have brought a large group of people together and offered them all jobs with a monthly salary and able to provide a more sustainable life.

All we ask is that you come and support us, come to watch the newest creation in The Gambia, and expect the unexpected.

King's & Queen's

A new African musical phenomenon! A new creation for The Gambia. Bringing you a production of singing and dancing to an outdoor stage, with soulful an...
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