UPDATED: Reggae awakening; Koffee hits studio after viral hit
It was unfortunate, for a moment, that Mikayla 'Koffee' Simpson was not called back for sixth form at Ardenne high school. Her mother told The Gleaner that her disappointment was momentary, and her pride proven in just a matter of months. With hopes of becoming an internationally known reggae and dancehall artiste, the former student has embarked on a journey which appears to be off to a promising start.
It was a whimsical decision for Simpson to pursue music, but since the first attempts, all signs appear to affirm that she made the right one. On August 26, she posted her first composition on Instagram, a tribute to Usain Bolt called Legend, and now, this 17-year-old amateur musician is a highly sought-after vocalist called Koffee.
Koffee's Instagram tribute to Bolt has reached 14,000 views since uploaded. In the weeks following, the young artiste had her debut, full-band live television performance on 'Smile Jamaica'. She has also been spotted in studios with Kumar Bent (lead singer of Raging Fyah) and legendary producer Sly Dunbar. Reggae singer Chevaughn Clayton recently revealed that one of his upcoming singles features the growing performer.
"I was a little disappointed, because I wanted her to be doing sixth form, but [Ardenne] didn't call her back. I cried for the day. But the next day, she said, 'you have to stand with me 100 per cent on this', and I let everything go," Koffee's mother, Jo-Anne Williams, told The Gleaner. It was while attending a concert at Ardenne High earlier this year that Koffee participated in, that Williams recognised the raw talent her daughter possesses. "Cold bump full up mah body," she said of the performance.
CONSTANTLY IN AWE
"She has blown me away. I am constantly in awe by everything she has done. Everything, I'm in support of. She has me. Now, I support her 150 per cent!"
Last week, Koffee released her official debut single and accompanying music video, Burning. The production was released by Upsetta Records on the Ouji Riddim, which features Busy Signal, Chuck Fenda, Luciano, Lutan Fyah, Mykal Rose and others.
"After releasing her tribute to Usain Bolt and it went viral, I expected Koffee's writing skills to gradually improve over the months or years. But when I heard Burning, again I was in total shock," Koffee's manager, Caniggia Palmer, said.
"I remember being about three and wanting to sing, but there was a huge break between there and being about 16," Koffee told The Gleaner. When in grade seven, she asked a friend to help her learn guitar. "I just wanted to learn. I didn't recognise it as wanting to do music. But at 16, I thought maybe I wanted to write music for somebody - but really, this whole artiste thing started in August, because even during CSEC, I didn't have it on my mind like that," Koffee confessed.
The blossoming reggae and dancehall artiste told The Gleaner that she always listens to music, especially while travelling.
"I always have in earphones. I listen to a lot of Chronixx - you can tell," she said, breaking off with a laugh.
"But Protoje is my first influence. It's just recently I started on Chronixx," Koffee clarified. She also heavily consumes Jr. Gong, and Jesse Royal.
"Abroad, I guess my tastes aren't typical. I listen to a rapper called Indica. She's a rapper, but her style is melodically inspired. And I listen to a little Migos," she said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: In a previous version of this article, Mikayla 'Koffee' Simpson was incorrectly identified as Mikayla Forbes. We regret the error.