Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam (born 18 July 1975), better known by her stage name M.I.A., is an English songwriter, record producer, singer, rapper, fashion designer, visual artist, and artist of Tamil Sri Lankan origin.
An accomplished visual artist by 2002, M.I.A. came to prominence in early 2004 through file-sharing of her singles "Galang" and "Sunshowers" on the Internet. She released her Mercury Prize-nominated debut album Arular in 2005. Her second album, Kala, was released in 2007 and gained her mainstream chart success. She has been nominated for two Grammy Awards and an Academy Award.
Her compositions have been noted to encompass various genres, often with political lyricism and artwork. M.I.A. has described her music style as being "other". In addition to her work as a graphic designer, providing artwork and photography for releases and as a director of music videos, she has also experimented with documentary film and in 2008 released a collection of her fashion designs. She is the founder of the record label N.E.E.T.
In 2009, Time magazine placed M.I.A. in the Time 100 list of "World's Most Influential people" for having "global influence across many genres".
Mathangi Arulpragasam was born in Hounslow, London, England to Kala and Arul Pragasam. Her family is of Sri Lankan Tamil descent.When she was six months of age, her family moved back to their native Sri Lanka. Motivated by his wish to support the Tamil militancy on the island, her father became a political activist.Her stage name, M.I.A., stands for Missing In Action.
Because of the Sri Lankan Civil War, the first eight years of her life were marked by displacement. During a period when her family temporarily resettled in Sri Lanka, the war escalated further and her school was destroyed in a government raid.In 1986 she, her older sister Kali, younger brother Sugu, and mother moved back to London where they were housed as refugees. She learned English in the late 1980s, on a council estate in Mitcham, South London.
M.I.A's first public exhibition of paintings in 2001 at the Euphoria Shop in Portobello Road, London, featured graffiti art and spray-paint canvasses mixing Tamil political street art with images of London life and consumerist culture. The show was nominated for the Alternative Turner Prize; (Jude Law was among early buyers of her art); and a monograph book of the collection was published by Pocko, simply titled M.I.A..
Politics and global ideas are prominent in M.I.A.'s art. On the political nature of her work she has said, "I have to be true to that--I can't take certain things away. I do have a political background.In a 2009 Coachella interview M.I.A. said, "The Third World deserves freedom of speech just like everyone else. We want to fight the battle to say what we want, whether to be serious or just make fun of ourselves. Thats what 'Worldtown' is about, that's what 'Paper Planes' is about. It's what people in the third world live through.
We are inspired by M.I.A and her combination of music, fashion, art and politics.
Visit her website on http://www.miauk.com/