NME Festival blog: M.I.A. awarded MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours List


The musician has been recognised alongside Elvis Costello and Fergal Sharkey

M.I.A. has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for “services to music.”

The British-Sri Lankan rapper, whose real name is Mathangi Arulpragasam, has used her politically charged music to explore life as a refugee across five albums and two EPs in her 20-year career.

M.I.A was born in Hounslow, London, but spent much of her formative years seeking shelter from civil war in Sri Lanka. Aged 10, her family returned to London to seek refuge.

Last year, the acclaimed documentary profile of M.I.A, Matangi/Maya/MIA’ was released. Reviewing the film, NME wrote: “From ‘ave it pop to agitprop: Matangi/Maya/MIA documents the outspoken rapper’s journey from refugee to bona fide star.

“In doing so, it provides a fascinating insight into a one-of-a-kind, fearless artist who has made her MO the unpredictable. It also sagely showcases the perils of the public platform as well as its good. Compelling.”

Elsewhere in the Birthday Honours List, Elvis Costello received an OBE and said he was “happy to accept this very surprising honour.”

Costello added: “To be honest, I’m pretty tickled to receive this acknowledgement for my ‘Services To Music’, as it confirms my long held suspicion nobody really listens to the words in songs or the outcome might have been somewhat different.”

Others recognised included frontman of The Undertones Fergal Sharkey, who received an OBE, whilst Anna Meredith and Andrew Roachford all received MBEs. Songwriter Mitch Murray received a CBE.

Speaking about his award, Roachford told the Press Association: “To be recognised for the work you’re doing, which is also your passion, from such a high level, is indeed an honour.”



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