Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam (born 18 July 1975), better known by her stage name M.I.A. (pronounced as distinct initials), is a British rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer, and activist. She is of Sri Lankan Tamil origin. "M.I.A." is a play on her own name and a reference to the abbreviation of Missing in Action. Her compositions combine elements of alternative, dance, electronic, hip hop and world music. M.I.A. began her career in 2000 as a visual artist, filmmaker and designer in west London before beginning her recording career in 2002. Since rising to prominence in early 2004 for her singles "Sunshowers" and "Galang", charting in Canada and the UK and reaching number 11 on the Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales in the US, she has been nominated for an Academy Award, three Grammy Awards and the Mercury Prize.