She was once known as Lady Tasha. She is now Kamson. Her real name is Grace Gathoni.
Not many can put a face immediately to the name, but Kamson is no new face, an accomplished dancer, singer and film actress.
She also bears another title, as the wife to the legendary ‘bone breaker’ Kanda King, and has danced alongside him for years. Warming up?
While you might think that it is impossible to dance like there are no bones in your body, watching Kamson in her element will quickly change your mind.
But life has not always been easy.
From a tender age, Kamson was left to the vagaries of life when her mother passed on due to muscle weakness that rendered her immobile. She was later taken to Pangani Lutheran Children Centre, located in Mathare where she spent the better part of her childhood.
It is here that she picked her hobby, which she has perfected over the years and has made her a household name. Kamson started her career as a hobby by competing in local talent shows and dancing in roadshows at the age of six.
She has performed alongside international artistes such as Awilo Longomba, Fally Ipupa and Kanda Bongoman.
“After my mother passed on, I could not take care of my handicapped brother, and I became a street urchin. Luckily enough, I was rescued and put in an orphanage and they played a major role in nurturing my talents,” she says.
Her stint at the children’s home was short-lived after her grandfather (now deceased) took her in.
“Many people do not know that you can express yourself through dancing. When I was in the orphanage, I would express my feelings ... and tears best through dancing; the unspoken pain would slowly be cured, vanish through dancing. I missed my mum, and this was the only way to find a smile,” she says.
What many people do not know is that Kamson quit a well-paying job just to dance.
“I am a degree holder in aviation and I worked for Swiss Airline for almost a year before quitting. I had to concentrate more on this side,” she says.
The artiste had already ventured into singing and dancing and eventually, her love for art won her over.
It was in her life as a dancer, that Kamson found the love of her life, Kanda King.
“I happened to be in one of his shows where he called guys on stage for a dancing competition. I jumped onto the stage, matched his energy and that is how we became friends. The rest is history, as we have been in love for more than 15 years,” she says.
Her entire family is gifted; her husband is a dancer, her first son is an urban dancer and a singer who also plays the piano but pursuing film and videography at the moment, and her second son is an upcoming DJ who also danced at some point.
“He danced a little then decided he is better at juggling with turntables. My youngest son is following in my footsteps, I guess because he spends more time with me. For Kanda King, that is a whole different story as he is my mentor and friend. Without him, I would not be here.”
Just recently, Kanda King made a medical appeal for hip replacement. In the moving plea, the dancer explained how continuous rigorous training had developed into a medical problem that required him to seek multiple hip replacements (arthroplasty).
His sickness has cast a dark shadow over their lives. “It has been difficult getting a band job. They seem to resist until I offer to do an audition, that is when they agree to offer a contract. He is recovering well at home as we are also making doctors’ visits for checkups and physiotherapy.
“He should be undergoing the second hip replacement surgery in two to three months. We are still raising funds; hopefully, fans and Good Samaritans will support him get a successful surgery,” says Kamson.
Although her first recordings never made it to the airwaves, she never gave up on her dream. Her patience paid as she pioneered The Rhythmz Band, a leading Afro-Beat band together with her husband. Kamson currently has three singles: Wendo Wi Cam’, Reke Mamenye and Ni Sorry.
“I have always been open to all kinds of genres, including reggae, dancehall and urban music. I am currently doing mugithi, which is working out pretty well,” she says.
Kamson says that she is not yet done dancing. “If you have been in any of my shows you know the kind of energy I put into dancing. The energy spills over, and it is the same I put into music as well as my acting career,” she says.
Despite accomplishing all that Kamson says it is pain that drives her.
“When I look at what I have been through especially during my childhood, it gives me a reason to keep pushing with a perseverance spirit. My biggest dream is to share the little I have by opening a children’s home and a home for the elderly. I want to give hope to orphans and helpless grannies in the society,” she says.