Grab your friends and get ready to belt out your favorite tunes with the Karaoke Krew in Savannah. A local group that has organically grown through Facebook and Instagram is purposed to not only inform people about the latest karaoke spots in our area but also to give people a chance from all walks of life to meet and enjoy the universal language of music.
“I like to think of myself as a connector, and I don't do it for recognition. I do it because there's a place for everyone. I started out as a spectator, then started performing karaoke, before transitioning into a karaoke host,” said A’lexia Jenkins.
Jenkins' first memory of karaoke was seeing a recording her grandmother had of her getting a karaoke machine for Christmas when she was 7 years old. From then on, she performed and is known by her stage persona, Lex Da Flex, The Karaoke Queen.
“That kind of transitioned into me labeling myself the karaoke queen. It just doesn't mean that I'm the best. It just means that I thrive on it. And I've been doing it for a very long time,” said Jenkins.
Her genre-crossing style of tunes is a testament that she has indeed been doing this for a long time. She is able to deliver pop and R&B ballets and switch it up and rap over a thumping beat from songs old and new.
Jenkins' karaoke journey in Savannah started when she moved here about 11 years ago. After she turned 21, she started going to karaoke on the river at the Wet Willies on River Street with DJ Brian Gilliam.
“That was my very first karaoke experience in Savannah, because there aren't many options for people under 21, but we are making space for people of all ages. It was a very inclusive environment. They were inclusive as far as age, race, and occupation. Karaoke was a place where none of that really mattered. We all had one goal, and it was just to have a good time,” she said.
Those good times rolled on, and over the next decade, Jenkins noticed there was a group of people constantly going to karaoke and looking for spots that hosted karaoke, hence the birth of The Karaoke Krew a year ago.
“The creation of the karaoke crew was to keep that connection and to make going to karaoke more intentional, knowing that, hey, my friends are going to be there, and we're going to have a good time. We all come together in the name of karaoke,” said Jenkins.
The group has connected hundreds of people to many of the favorite spots that have offered karaoke over the years, like McDonough's Restaurant & Lounge, The Rail Pub, Club One, and Rogue Water, to name a few.
“I credit Gina with inviting me to Wet Willies, and from there I met Valencia, Tree, Will, Jawan, Showtime Shon, and so many others that were going to karaoke at these different places, and we still support each other all of these years later,” said Jenkins.
For Valencia Baugh, a lady with a voice as soulful as the seasoned blues and R&B singers, the group has been a place that has kept her social and connected with things going on in the community, earning her the affectionate nickname The OG Karaoke Queen.
“I'm older and I don't work, and I find joy in the karaoke Krew. It keeps me social and current. That's why I really like it because I get to stay current on stuff. It teaches me about social media, and it keeps me in touch with what's going on in the city. I love the Karaoke Crew,” said Baugh.
Baugh didn't start doing karaoke until around 2009, after she went through a rough marriage and was going through a bad divorce. One of her friends invited her out to Mutuals because she was having a hard time with her divorce, and that is when she started doing karaoke. From there, they started going to Wet Willies on River Street, which is where she met Jenkins, and they have been friends ever since.
When The Karaoke Krew was formed last year, Baugh was an impactful part of the group being created, making sure people showed up and had a good time, no matter who you are or what you are going through.
“The Karaoke Krew gives me life. Karaoke is very therapeutic. I don’t work, and besides my daughter, my family is in California, so the Karaoke Krew is my family, and I love the Krew for life,” said Baugh.
Beyond karaoke, the Karaoke Krew celebrates each other’s birthdays, graduations, and many other accomplishments of those who are in their group. The different karaoke spots have become a place to have fun but also network.
In addition to the previous karaoke spots, there have been some others that have popped up, including CB Entertainment in Pooler, Eclipse Savannah, The Nest Rooftop at Cotton Sail Hotel, Rack Em Up Sports Bar and Lounge, the popular live band Karaoke with JD Music Group at Vici Rooftop, and more.
The Karaoke Krew is shining a light on some fun spots and is bringing the crew along for the fun. Jenkins is happy to see the group grow and more members join the fold.
“The beauty is we take turns. It's not always about me because everyone has a space to shine, and looking at people grow is a beautiful thing. We just want to get you in the door. It may not be today, but eventually, after being with us, you're going to want to get up there and sing,” said Jenkins.