Once-Homeless Rapper Wins Prestigious UK Prize

Speech Debelle is first woman to win Mercury in 7 years
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2009 8:00 PM CDT
Speech Debelle, winner of the Mercury Prize 2009, holds her trophy today in London.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Years of living in hostels and on the streets of London proved, at long last, a winning combination for rapper Speech Debelle, who today was awarded Britain’s prestigious Mercury music prize, the Guardian reports. Speech Therapy, the debut album by the 26-year-old (real name Corynne Elliot), represents a “remarkable new voice in British hip-hop, tough, warm and reflective,” the judges said.

“It means a lot to me because it’s an award judges give solely on the strength of the album,” said Debelle, the first woman to win the prize since 2002. She wrote the album as a teenager, when she bounced, alone, between London’s shelters and streets. What’ll she do with the $33,000 that comes with the award? “Probably be smart and invest it.”