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Good People, Good Work

Successful Refugees and Immigrants Leading the Way, Part 20 of a Multi-Part Series: Activist Singer-Songwriter M.I.A.

2022-02-07
Language:English
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Like refugees in previous episodes, M.I.A. is also among these outstanding individuals. M.I.A. is a British-born Sri Lankan rapper, singer, record producer, visual artist, model, fashion designer, and activist of Tamilian descent, who is famous for her politically charged music. She was the first artist of Asian origin to be nominated for an Oscar and Grammy Award in the same year and is the only artist to be nominated for these five key awards— a Grammy Award, Academy Award, Brit Award, Mercury Prize and Alternative Turner Prize.

Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, best known by her stage name M.I.A, was born in Hounslow, West London, UK, in 1975. When she was just a baby, her parents moved the family back to their native Sri Lanka. In 1986, Maya and her family returned to and settled in London, where they were given shelter as refugees.

Arulpragasam uses many elements in her music from various cultures and musical genres, such as grime, hip-hop, dancehall, baile funk, ragga, electro, etc. Additionally, M.I.A is an outspoken artist who often lyrically blends different issues together in her songs, such as political themes, social concerns, and sexism. Critics have acclaimed the unique and distinctive style of her music. Her debut album, “Arular,” released in 2005, was universally praised by the music industry. Her second studio album, “Kala,” released in 2007, was also highly acclaimed. Her third album, “Maya,” released in 2010, has become her highest-charting work in the UK and US to date.

In addition to refugee and political issues, M.I.A. also mentions feminism and environmental issues in her work. In her single “Bad Girls,” she highlights women being prohibited from driving in some countries. To raise awareness of environment protection, she collaborated with clothing giant H&M for World Recycling Week by releasing “Rewear It,” a song addressing sustainability and environmental issues. She has been active in the fashion world in other respects as well. Beyond her musical achievements, the hip-hop star also engages in charitable work.
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