The 3rd Annual Afro-Carib festival was certainly a treat as part of this year’s City of Miramar Black History and Reggae Month event series. The festival took place at the Miramar Regional Park Amphitheater and was hosted by Commissioner Alexandra. And there were a number of notables in attendance, including Consul General Oliver Mair, Commissioner Joy Smith, City of Westpark Commissioner, and Eddy Edwards, CEO of Jamaican Jerk Festival USA, Inc.
Indeed, the bill of artists that performed live at the 2023 Afro-Carib festival was quite robust. Headlined by Jamaica’s ‘Grammy Kid’, Koffee, the festival also boasted the likes of Jacob Forever, Tekno, J. Perry, Alexandra Star, Yung Wylin’, and David Cairol. MC duties for the evening were expertly handled by Lance-O of Kulcha Shok; TV and radio host, Jody-Ann Gray; and Papa Keith of Miami’s 103.5 The Beat fm radio.
Papa Keith – Miami’s 103.5 The Beat
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Papa Keith developed and sharpened his hosting and DJ skills in hip-hop and reggae clubs and, as a result, built up a buzz around his name in the streets. Eventually, that buzz along with stints on Mixx 96 and The Luke Show, led Papa Keith to be hired as host of the very popular Night Show at Miami’s 103.5 The Beat fm radio station. Indeed, Papa Keith is a much sought-after host and event MC in not only South Florida, but also in New York and the Caribbean. Given this, he certainly has proven credibility in the hip-hop, reggae, dancehall, soca, and compas community circles.
David Cairol – France
A singer and musician who originates from France, David Cairol has certainly been making the rounds not only in Jamaica, but all over the world as well. Mr. Cairol, a staunch Bob Marley enthusiast and reggae aficionado, has passionately embraced Jamaica’s most coveted musical treasure. Nicknamed the ‘Late Bus’ singer, David has been devoting a lot of his time to secondary schools across the island, to teach the students the basic concepts of music composition as well songwriting skills. And as he stated to the Jamaica Gleaner: “I’ve only landed for a short while, but one of my first stops had to be Rebel Salute and it was actually my first time experiencing the show. It was a good experience to be in the crowd as a fan.” Rebel Salute, of course, is the annual roots reggae festival headed by reggae legend, Tony Rebel, that is kept every year in Priory, St. Ann, Jamaica for the ‘Preservation of Reggae’.
Jacob Forever – Cuba
Born under the name, Yosdani Jacob Carmenates, in Camaguey, Cuba Jacob Forever is a highly acclaimed Cuban reggaeton and Latin trap singer, who is formerly part of the group, Gente D’Zona.
In 2012, Jacob Forever kicked-off his his solo career which flourished on the heels of his solo debut effort, ‘La Mafia Musical’. He officially left the group, Gente D’Zona in early 2013 and, in 2014 his ‘Mas Duro’ album was released and followed up with ‘El Inmortal’ in 2015.
Affectionately known as ‘your favorite reggaeton artist’s favorite reggaeton artist’, Jacob Forever is Cuban Grammy-nominated artist who is not only widely influential but also definitely has the the gift of versatility in that he can transition between a variety of Latin music genres, such as reggaeton, bachata, and urban on the same album project. Thus, it’s not surprising that Jacob Forever is always in high demand when it comes to DJ set around the world. Jacob Forever has amassed as sturdy vault of hits over the years, perhaps most notably the infectious “Hasta Que Se Seque el Malecón” and “Quiéreme” with Farruko. What’s more, Jacob has collaborated with a number of big-name artists in the Latin music sphere including Pitbull, Thalia, and Enrique Iglesias, just to name a few.
Tekno Miles – Nigeria
Born under the name, Augustine Miles Kelechi Okechukwu, Tekno Miles (or Tekno for short) hails from Ivo Local Governent Area in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. Tekno inked his first music deal under K-Money Entertainment, which released his breakout single, ‘Holiday’—a hit that boasted vocals from Nigerian musical giant, Davido.
Tekno’s music is a rich blend of Afrobeats, Afropop and R&B, and his career really took off in the mid-2010s. In 2012, Tekno was noticed by Julius Agwu—who is a famous Nigerian comedian—after he performed a song called ‘Onye Ne Kwu’ to a standing ovation. At that same event, Tekno connected with the manager of Made Men Music Group, Iyanya and Ubi Franklyn, who gave encouragement for him to relocate to Lagos, the capital city of Nigeria to pursue his career in music.
Tekno has moved on to the United States, where he currently resides. And for many who do not know, he is the man behind the worldwide smash hit, ‘Buga’, a chart-topper that stoked the viral TikTok dance craze.
Koffee – Jamaica’s ‘Grammy Kid’
Reggae roots revival singing sensation, Koffee, kicked things off at approximately 10 pm as scheduled. Hailing from the gritty environs of Spanish Town, Jamaica, Koffee stormed on to the music scene in Jamaica in 2017 after releasing her single titled, ‘Legend’, an ode to the now retired sprinting legend, Usain Bolt. Featuring only Koffee’s voice and acoustic guitar, the song went viral on Instagram and therafter became a huge hit. Clad in green shorts, a red tam, and a beige long-sleeved checked shirt with a white t-shirt underneath, Koffee, who is just 23 years old went right to work and took command of the audience by reeling off her catchy hit—‘Rapture’.
A couple of years ago, Koffee as a 19-year old garnered the much-coveted Grammy award for Best Reggae Album and was the youngest ever in history to receive it. At the 2023 Afro-Carib festival, Koffee would have been remiss had she not dished out ‘Toast’, which has scorhed the reggae charts and airwaves not only in Jamaica, but also internationally in recent years. And predictably, Koffee received a round of applause and thanked the massive audience for hearing her out.
An apt way to describe this year’s installment of Miramar, Florida’s Afro-Carib festival is that is was ‘all that and then some’ in that all promoters, all artists delivered, all vendors, and all the patrons delivered. As such, this marvelous festival seeks to not only celebrate the mix of cultures in the diaspora, but also pay homage to the commonly shared roots in African origins. And in the words of City Commissioner, Alexandra P. Davis: “The Afro-Carib Festival brings together musicians, craftsmen, artists, creators, food vendors, and fans in celebration of the power of the Diaspora, who are descendants of native Africans. The Afro-Carib Festival not only honors our collective roots, but also celebrates and shines a spotlight on the beauty of our people and our global cultural impact.“
Photos by Nick Ford, who lives and works in South Florida.