Sista Mika: The Belgian reggae pioneer
Sophia Michalakoudis aka Sista MIKA was born in Brussels, Belgium. Her father was a Greek musician who played Rebetiko, which is traditional Greek music. Rebetiko means “rebel” and, like Reggae music, talks about social issues, the struggle for equality but is the music of the soul, like blues. This was the music that surrounded Sista MIKA as she was growing up.
At the age of 13, Sista MIKA first heard Bob Marley on the local radio station singing “One Drop”, and that was her introduction to reggae music. MIKA started her own musical journey at the age of 14 when she attended college studying classical vocal music and music theory. She also took private music lessons. She recorded her first demos at the age of 16, her first live performance at the age of 18, and her first vinyl 45 at the age of 19, a French pop song called “T-shirt and Blue Jeans”.
In 1986 Sista MIKA attended a Black Uhuru concert in Brussels and was mesmerized by Mykal Rose’ incredible voice and onstage charisma. This was the inspiration for her reggae music career. She formed her first reggae band at the age of 23 called MIKA and The Human Race with her two sisters, Ann aka Factor-X, and Elizabeth, and they released a vinyl 45 called “MLK” (a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King) which received acclaim from the media.
Over the years Sista MIKA has recorded 8 albums with collaborations from artistes like Steel Pulse, Freddy Loco, Omar Perry, Dubcreator, Gussie P., and Henry P....
In 2002 MIKA created her own independent label, Only 4 Music, allowing her to create without the restrictions of big major record companies.
In 2007 MIKA went through a long drawn-out lawsuit against the British pop singer Mica Penniman who changed his name to Mika. Although she had registered her name in the ‘80s, MIKA decided to add the “Sista” to her name to avoid any confusion
Sista MIKA has graced the stage with the likes of Mykal Rose, Israel Vibration, Eek-A-Mouse, Yellowman, Gilberto Gil and, Lucky Dube, in shows in The Netherlands, France, Italy, Hungary, England, and Germany.
Sista MIKA is in the process of recording her 9th album. The album produced by Grammy award-winning producer Winston G. Harriott is called “Sista MIKA Meets the Legends” with collaborations from Mykal Rose, Sizzla Kalonji, Sly Dunbar, Earl Chinna Smith, and many other great musicians. The first single from the album, “Freedom” featuring Mykal Rose and Sizzla Kalonji, is due to be released later this year.