Not only is the 11-year-old academically brilliant but his superior musical abilities leaves audiences spellbound.
An impressive multi-instrumentalist, Kofi plays the piano, drums and guitar. However, his passion is for the cello.
“Malik is a musical prodigy,” says Craig Hulgren, a cellist in the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, who has been Kofi’s teacher for the past five years. “He has advanced technological and interpretative abilities as a child. Beyond that he also puts in the hard work to develop those talents.”
Born into a working-class family in Birmingham, Alabama, Kofi’s unique story is a testimony to excellence against all odds.
The product of a teenage mom, Kofi’s maternal grandmother, Ruby Cox, has raised him as her own since he was an infant.
She says Kofi came out of the womb curious and eager to learn.
As far-fetched as it sounds, Cox says he started talking in sentences at 8-months-old, by the age of 2 he was putting puzzles together. He had mastered reading music at 4.
When it became obvious that Kofi had something special, 59-year-old Cox, a divorced mom of four who never finished college, took the decision to homeschool her youngest grandchild along with his older twin brothers, Robert and Reuben.
She says she has a disciplined schedule and keeps abreast of what is being taught at top boarding schools. “In order for them to compete with the best in the world they need to be able to perform at a certain level,” says Cox, who also put her own four children through college.
Indeed, the twins now aged 23, are also musically gifted and exceptionally bright. They passed their SAT college entrance exam at 12-years-old and both went off to college at sixteen.
Cox, who happens to be a strict vegan, can’t explain why Kofi is so bright but is convinced his diet is a factor. From the time he started eating solids he has been on a raw foods diet, eating mainly veg, fresh fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and herbs in their whole, natural state.
“Junk food is like any substance abuse,” says Cox. “Kids that eat junk don’t focus, can’t sit down, are noisy and disruptive and are not imaginative.”
Although the family has a computer they do not own a television set or have access to an internet. If Kofi needs to do research he visits libraries and perhaps takes out a CD or DVD for background information, says Cox. She believes having no technological distractions, “keeps him focused and creative.”