Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness presented Koffee, 19, the singing star sensation, with the Youth Award for Excellence in the Arts and Culture category. The singer’s mother, Jo-Anne Williams, accepted the award on her daughter’s behalf as Koffee was not in Jamaica at the time of the awards ceremony., which was held at Jamaica House at the end of November 2019. Jamaica House is the official residence of Jamaica’s Prime Minister. The theme of the awards ceremony was “The Jamaican Youth Are LIT – They Lead, Inspire, and Transform Jamaica and the world.” Koffee, whose given name is Mikayla Simpson, was born in 2000 and comes from Spanish Town. Her first single “Toast” was released in 2018. In 2019, the singer signed with the Columbia Records label. She received a Grammy nomination for her album” Rapture” in 2019. Koffee began singing at her church and at age 12 taught herself to play the guitar. She started writing songs inspired by her listening to reggae musician Protoje. After winning a talent contest at Ardenne High School in Kingston in 2018 she, moved on to learn music theory and singing techniques in the high school choir. In her last year in high school, Koffee performed with other talented students before 1,000 people, an experience she said gave her the confidence to pursue a career in music.
The nickname “Koffee” was given to her by friends when she ordered a hot coffee instead of a soda on a hot day. The presentation of the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence to Koffee was made just two years after the singer’s friend the musician Chronixx received it in the same category. In 2017, the year Chronixx received the award, he was among 24 young people who were presented with awards in 11 categories. First presented in 1998, the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence is presented to young Jamaicans who have made major contributions to the nation’s development. All Jamaican nationals between the ages of 15 and 29 years who live in Jamaica or overseas and who have achieved a world-class level of achievement in their fields. Koffee was included in a group of 87 young Jamaicans who were named to a short list of candidates. A total of 100 were nominated. The award is presented in the categories of Environmental Protection, Youth Development, Agriculture, Arts and Culture, Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise, Innovation in Science and Technology, Journalism/E-journalism, Leadership, International Achievement, Sports, Academics, and Nation Builder.