Kijafa is an American R&B recording artist, songwriter and businesswoman, who has been known to dance, rap and freestyle during live performances. Kijafa’s gift was recognized at a young age, and her roots in gospel music have done her justice as she has transformed into a soulful songstress in the R&B and hip hop communities. Kijafa is a Los Angeles native and began to really notice and embrace her vocal abilities while attending Long Beach Jordan High School, where she was an active participant in the Performing Arts Magnet Program and the LB Jordan Gospel Choir.
2009 was a breakout year for Kijafa. She began singing, performing and recording with A-Tone & T.E.A.M. and made her first debut on their “CPR The Crazy Praise Record”. From there, Kijafa began her stretch as a background vocalist, working with Margo Thunder, Mr. Jazz and Soulmatik, and in 2014 she had the pleasure of providing background vocals for Stevie Wonder during his annual House Full of Toys charity event. Then in 2016, Kijafa opened up for the same event as a member of The KJLH Performance choir.
Kijafa has dedicated much of her career to the art of background singing, studying and learning more about her craft and using those vocal experiences to prepare her for something bigger. She is now ready to step forward and be that solo, vocal powerhouse and entertainer. This past July, she released her first single, “They Don’t Know”, and it is truly making her presence known! You too can learn get the scoop about the singer and today’s Wonder Woman below.
Fancy: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Kijafa, Kijafa?
Kijafa: What makes me, me… Well, I’m very laid back, but at the same time, I am lots of fun. No matter what I’m going through personally, I make it a point to bring positive energy to every situation. I love to inspire; I love to see people laughing and creating. I’m sensitive, I love hard and I’m very passionate about who and what I choose to involve myself with. I respect people no matter where they are in life, and I’m very observant. Something I’ve realized about myself from a young age is that, I’m a nurturing person. I always end up being called “mom” or “big sis” in school lol… Even now as an adult. I just want to be remembered for having a very loving and welcoming personality. If I was someone else, I’d definitely want to get acquainted with Kijafa. There’s definitely a lot more to me, but I’ll stop there lol…
Fancy: What inspires your music?
Kijafa: Life! My music is inspired by personal experience, what I see at the moment, what I’m feeling at the moment and even others’ experiences. But sometimes it’s the music that inspires me. For instance, I had a studio session with Jairus “J Mo” Mozee, who’s one of the baddest guitarists I know and also a Grammy nominated producer and song writer. He started playing some instrumentals for me and my mind just started going crazy with ideas! He played this one track in particular and Demetrius “Dee” Martin, who’s one of the dopest pocket drummers around and also my fiancé, said two words! And from that moment, my second single was written! The vibe from that track inspired the whole mood and concept! I just wrote what I felt the music was saying.
Fancy: Was your family supportive of you switching from gospel to R&B?
Kijafa: Definitely! My mother and my children are my greatest supporters and my mother knows the foundation that she gave me as a child. She comes to every live performance I have. My kids do as well if they can get in, lol. My family lets me do me with confidence that “doing me” will always be with taste and class. In actuality, I didn’t really switch from gospel. I was raised in church, and I’ve been an active choir member all of my life, but as an artist, I’ve always been an R&B singer.
Fancy: Out of curiosity, what does studying to be a background singer entail?
Kijafa: For me, it includes watching other background singers live or even on YouTube. I listen to how they blend, I look at how they move, I pay extra attention to how they support the lead vocalist, I pay attention to their outfits and everything. I especially listen to the recorded version of the song that we’ll be performing so that the audience will hear those familiar harmonies and song highlights that they love and would want to hear live. There is an art to background singing. There are do’s and don’ts to it.
Fancy: “They Don’t Know” begins almost with a Keith Sweat beat. Do you like that late 80’s, 90’s R&B sound?
Kijafa: Definitely! That 90’s R&B was everything to me! The harmonies still give me life! The lyrics were meaningful! Music in the 90’s was lots of fun. But, I really don’t discriminate. I love music period! That 70’s funk, growing up in Colorado I got some of that 80’s rock…. I love jazz, pop, reggae…. I love it all, but yes, that 90’s R&B sound comes out of me all the time.
Fancy: Who are some of your favorite artists and why?
Kijafa: Wow, I have a few favorites, but I’ll start with Anita Baker. When I was younger, I’d lock myself in my room for hours singing every single song off of the “Rapture” album, over and over again. She was something like my first vocal coach, lol. Mary J Blige because she did her thing! She gives us Mary no matter what. Lalah Hathaway! I don’t even think I need to explain lol… Mint Condition all day! The live element, the harmonies, the lyrics… Brandy, no explanation needed, she’s dope! D’Angelo, Carl Thomas,Tank, SWV, 2Pac, I have lots of favorites but my all time favorite is definitely Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot! That woman is amazing! She writes, produces, engineers, dances, sings, raps! She’s so creative! She’s beautiful! She didn’t let what people told her in the beginning stop her! She’s all that. She really is Supa Dupa Fly lol.
Fancy: Now that you are ready to be in the spotlight, what was the hardest thing for you to overcome as an artist?
Kijafa: Listening to negativity from society and from within myself in regard to what’s an acceptable weight. I struggled with that for a long time. I went from an abusive relationship to an abusive marriage, gained about 100-150 pounds and then started listening to society. I put my talent on the back burner and tried pretending that I was happy. Once I ended all of that, divorced and lost weight, I started putting myself around people that were doing what I wanted to do. Slowly but surely I started making some moves, but in my head, I was still beating myself up, comparing myself to everyone else, still feeling over 300 pounds, basically not even giving myself a chance to shine, not loving who I was. I was afraid to really be me for a long time for fear of not being accepted. But these days, I’m feeling really good about me! With lots of time, prayer, talking to myself in the mirror and surrounding myself with the right people, I’m on a different path thankfully.
Fancy: What can we expect from your EP, “The J is Silent”?
Kijafa: You can really expect ME! You’ll hear stories of my past, you’ll hear about my relationship now, you can expect a turn up or two lol… You can expect to laugh, you might even want to make love. You should expect a (damn) good record. Great music, great lyrics and definitely a great vibe. I’m expecting you’ll want more, so please believe it doesn’t stop here.
Fancy: Do you have any other projects or events in the works that you care to share?
Kijafa: Well, I’m always doing something lol. I have a group that started a few years ago, “ButtahBrown” (Vivian Love, Chevone Shampine and our drummer and MD, Dee Martin), and we’re always singing somewhere. I also sing with the KJLH choir, and we perform a lot as well, but my main project is my EP right now, and the video shoot for “They Don’t Know” is in the works as we speak!
Learn more about Kijafa and follow below:
And you can find the single on all digital platforms.