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Koffee at Fillmore Silver Spring
Koffee, a 22-year-old reggae vocalist, has already accomplished plenty in her relatively short life. When she was 17, track star Usain Bolt shared a video of her strummed and sung “Legend,” a tribute song to him, on his social media. At 19, she won a Best Reggae Grammy for her uptempo dancehall style EP, Rapture. And last month she released Gifted, her first full-length album. In just a few years, the young artist has turned plenty of notable heads. In 2019, Rihanna, who was raised on reggae in Barbados, uploaded a video of herself chanting along to Koffee’s song “Toast.” That same year, Koffee collaborated with rapper Gunna on “W,” and she landed an NPR Tiny Desk Concert right before the pandemic started. Born Mikayla Simpson in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Koffee grew up singing and studying music theory in a Seventh-day Adventist Church choir, and largely taught herself guitar after learning a few chords from a friend. With her ability to rap and sing in traditional Jamaican styles, Koffee’s Rapture showed the influence of Protoje and Chronixx, Jamaican artists who’ve mixed the rootsy sensibility and lilting melodies of old-school reggae with the fast-tempoed feel of hip-hop accented dancehall. Gifted, which includes previously released singles and new songs, shows Koffee’s range. She toasts and sings over music that draws from old and new Jamaican styles, Nigerian Afrobeats, and Black British hybrid sounds. While some of her songs are serious—“Shine” is a call to end gun violence—others are playful. She gives a nod to Lionel Richie with her “fiesta forever” lyric on “West Indies.” On that song and others such as “Where I’m From” and “Locked Down,” Koffee expertly imbues her arrangements with a pop accent, without sacrificing their rhythmic power. Count on her to display those strengths live. Koffee performs at 8 p.m. on May 3 at Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. livenation.com. $45.