February 27, 2021 | Black History Month, Flow BLOG
At only 21 years of age, Koffee has already made a name for herself in the music industry.
She is the first woman and youngest artist to win the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. She won the trophy for her 2019 EP, Rapture.
Born Mikayla Simpson in Spanish Town, Jam. on Feb.16, 2000, Koffee grew up surrounded by music in her church choir.
“Literally being born and raised in the church was kind of the first experience of real music, I’m talking like manuscript music. It’s when I got exposed to harmonies, unison and stuff like that,” she said in an interview.
Koffee sang in the choir at her high school Ardenne High School and taught herself how to play the guitar when she was 12.
She graduated from high school in 2017 and decided to pursue her musical talents.
“While I was in school, I basically had to make the decision between what was important at the moment [to me] or go into a line of work that I knew wasn’t for me. So I had to embrace the musical opportunities that I received,” she said.
How did her mom, actress Jo-Anne Williams, react to the decision?
“My mom was a bit skeptic in the beginning, because she’s been the one sending me to school all my life. But when she got wind of my talent, she grew to trust moment and trust the journey. She became supportive over time.”
The music industry caught her vibe in August 2017 when she posted “Legend” a tribute to Olympic champion Usain Bolt and he reposted it to his several million followers.
Representatives of Upsetta Records, based in Jamaica, saw Bolt’s repost. They invited Koffee to sing on the collaborative record, Ouji Riddim, where each singer recorded their vocals over the same production, or “riddim.” Other contributors to the October 2017 album include reggae veterans Busy Signal and Jah Vinci.
Koffee’s contribution, “Burning,” was discovered by Columbia records and they contacted her about a record deal. She signed with the major label in 2018.
“Burning” also caught the attention of Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire, who produced Koffee’s her official debut single “Toast.”
Jamaican legends Chronixx and Protoje took Koffee under their wings and appeared in her video for “Toast.” She also toured Britain with Chronixx in 2018.
“Toast” was also featured on the soundtrack of the Jordan Peele blockbuster, Us.
In the middle of that exciting whirlwind, veteran artist Cocoa Tea introduced Koffee to a massive audience at the 2018 Rebel Salute reggae festival.
In March 2019, Koffee released her début EP Rapture. It reached the number one spot on the Billboard Reggae Charts, and she became the youngest local act to top the Billboard Reggae Charts.
It also earned Koffee her first Grammy.
When asked about her upcoming full-length album Koffee said, “I want to speak of a solution and of a way that we can come together and get along, even when things are going wrong.”
“Positivity is definitely a theme. It will be a very interesting twist for people who knew my music before, and also for people who will discover me. I think it will be really awesome,” she added.
When asked about what kind legacy she wants to leave behind, the singer said, “I want my name to turn into a household name. 10 years from now, I want my collection of music to be listened to by old people, young people, babies — just everybody. It’s important that my music makes a positive impact on my country, the reggae genre and the world.”
SOURCES: BILLBOARD.COM, DANCEHALLMAG.COM, JAMAICA-STAR.COM, LOOPJAMAICA.COM, REGGAEVILLE.COM, THEATLANTIC.COM, TMRWMAGAZINE.COM