M.I.A. can now add another three letters after her name: MBE.
On Tuesday (Jan. 14), the British-Sri Lankan hip-hop star was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE to the rest of us, during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
In a statement, M.I.A. (real name Mathangi Arulpragasam) said she accepted the honor in tribute to her mother, who had once worked hand stitching medals distributed by the palace.
“Today I’m accepting this in honour for my mother who worked for minimum wage to give us a better life,” she wrote in a social media post. “As a working class first generation immigrant it’s great to be recognised for my contribution. Having freedom to speak my truth and to do it through music has helped me speak for those who do not have those privileges. I will continue [to] fight for those who are silenced or persecuted by others.”
The 44-year-old performer was last year recognized for her “services to music” in the annual Queen’s Honours list, which singles out exceptional talents and endeavors by individuals in the United Kingdom across many fields.
M.I.A.’s mom was at the ceremony, hosted by Prince William as a representative of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
In an Instagram post on the announced of her medal last year, M.I.A. shared how her mother — who received asylum in the U.K. in 1986 after leaving Sri Lanka, then embroiled in civil war, with her young children — found a job sewing these honors “because it was the only non English speaking manual labour she could find.”