“I want to be impactful and positive,” says Koffee, the 23-year-old reggae artist known as Jamaica’s “reggae ambassador of positive energy.”
February 24, 2023 at 4:42 pm
The Afro-Carib Festival returns to Marimar, Florida this Saturday. The festival’s third annual celebration presents the best artists representing musical genres from the Caribbean and African Diaspora. Various artists representing reggae, Afrobeats, Afropop, kompa, reggaeton and salsa are on the bill.
Presented by Visit Lauderdale, the festival is where Black History Month meets Reggae Month to celebrate the blended cultures that evolved through a shared bond, rooted in African origins.
In announcing the production’s return, the City of Miramar Commissioner, Alexandra P. Davis, commented on the connection that the diverse music had to the culture of the community.
“Part of who we are as a people, descendants from African and Caribbean roots, are reflected in the music, instruments and dance which make up our rich culture and heritage,” Davis said in a statement. “When you listen to the lyrics of these artistes and feel the rhythm of the Afro-Reggae – inspired beat, it resonates deep within the soul.”
No artist understands the importance of reflection and representation in their music and community like this year’s headliner, Koffee. The Grammy Award-winning artist spoke with Blavity about the honor of headlining this year’s festival.
“It’s a responsibility that I welcomed,” she said. “I feel confident within myself, knowing that I am able to represent my country by doing something I love so much, which is reggae music—and representing the youth that is a great feeling.”
The 23-year-old artist has quickly risen to stardom in the reggae world with the release of her 2018 single, “Toast.” Two years later, her debut EP, Rapture, earned her the Grammy for “Best Reggae Album,” making her the first woman and the youngest artist to win in the category.
Born Mikayla Victoria Simpson in Spanish Town, Jamacia, Koffee’s love for music bloomed in the church. Growing up a devout Seventh-Day Adventist, she was introduced to melodies and the use of instruments.
Aside from her religious upbringing, Koffee’s soulful twist on traditional reggae was inspired by various artists. “Bob Marley, Protoje, Sizzla, Burna Boy, a few international artists, were some of the people I listened to the most,” she told us.
Koffee added her first attempt at creating music was “playing songs by some of these artists on my guitar when I was 13.”
“I learned their songs and would play them,” she continued. “I didn’t take music serious or start creating my own until I was 17.”
After the Olympian reposted the clip, she caught the eye of Columbia Records. Her debut single, “Burning,” was released the same year.
“I want to be impactful and positive,” said Koffee when asked about her main goals as an artist.
Commissioner Davis confirmed that the young artist is well on her way to achieving that.
“Her being a Grammy Award-winning artist and Grammy-nominated this year says something about her reach and her positive message to the world,” she said to The Miami New Times. “The type of vibe I’m bringing is that message in the music.”
“This will be my second time performing hitting the stage there [Florida],” said Koffee. I went there during my North American tour for [my album] Gifted, so I’m happy to return.
She added the diversity of Miramar is perfect for the Afro-Carib Festival.
“I love that we are able to bring authentic reggae music across the seas and introduce it to people here,” she added.
Koffee mentions her hit single, “West Indies,” will be the one she’s sure will get the crowd hype.
“It’s a fun record, and I know people enjoy that song,” she explained. “It’s also cool because I know a lot of other Caribbean people will be there and [will] be performing that day. So it will be the song for everyone.”
The rest of the festival lineup includes Nigerian-born singer and songwriter Tekno, Grammy-nominated rap and reggeaton artist Jacob Forever and Haitian hitmaker J. Perry.
Local food vendors will serve up their specialty Caribbean, and African dishes. Merchandise vendors will offer unique finds, representing the many cultures of the Diaspora.