Coely has been working tirelessly since 2012 with her debut single “Ain’t Chasing Pavements”. Since then, she has released her debut EP “RAAH – The Soulful Yeah” and her debut album “Different Waters”. From the very first moment I saw Coely, it was clear to me she’s the biggest thing to come out of Antwerp since diamonds and The Antwerp Six. Countless festivals, showcases and performances later, Coely is now not only Belgian’s leading female artist but also an international contender for mainstream success. Last year she was scheduled to perform at the acclaimed SXSW (South by Southwest) festival in the US but got denied entry, presumably due to Donald Trump’s travel ban, just hours before the performance. It did land her a feature on US Billboard that just added fuel to her reigning fire. Not one to sit down and crumble, Coely filled up her busy festival agenda anyway and made it to UK’s Glastonbury, dubbed the ultimate festival.
All that acclaim and success is well-deserved, let there be no mistake. Coely is not a girl who “got lucky”, landed a record deal and instant recognition. She has been hustling for years in an industry that’s hard to crack for anyone but especially for women, let alone a woman of color. When Coely took home her MIA Awards last night, her speech reflected that and she encouraged the MIA’s to feature more women. Quite a parallel with the current discussion about female representation and recognition at the recent Grammy Awards, which is the US counterpart of the MIA’s.