Hip-hop artist M.I.A. recently rocketed from the experimental underground to the pinnacle of the entertainment world. "O Saya," her collaboration with Indian composer A.R. Rahman from the "Slumdog Millionaire" soundtrack, is one of three nominees for the best-song Oscar. And her track "Paper Planes" is in contention at this weekend's Grammy Awards for record of the year -- the Recording Academy's top honor.
Born Mathangi Arulpragasam in Britain, the future singer returned with her family to her parents' native Sri Lanka when she was 6 months old. The family, who are members of Sri Lanka's ethnic-Tamil minority, moved to Jaffna, in the island nation's north. Not long afterward, the country erupted into civil war between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government, and violence consumed Jaffna.
As a child, Ms. Arulpragasam rarely saw her father, Arul Pragasam, who was involved in the Tamil-separatist movement -- though she says he was part of a more political faction than the violent and better-known Tigers.
At age 10 she fled with her mother, elder sister and younger brother first to India and then back to London, where her mother now works as a seamstress and M.I.A. attended art college.
CLICK HERE to read the full story