British rapper and singer Lady Leshurr has said she is “over the moon” to be named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The songwriter and producer, full name Melesha O’Garro, is being awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) after releasing a coronavirus-related song this year reminding people to wash their hands.
She told the PA news agency: “I am over the moon, I never expected it, it kind of came out the blue, but at the same time it just goes to show when you create opportunities for yourself in a situation like this pandemic, you know, a lot can come off the back of it when you’re expressing through art or giving back to people.
“I’m lost for words, honestly.”
The singer is being recognised for services to music and charity on the list, which was due to be published in June, but was delayed to enable nominations for people who have played vital roles in the coronavirus pandemic.
Her Quarantine Speech music video, uploaded to YouTube on April 5, features the lyrics: “Before you go about your business/Wash them hands /You better wash those hands.”
Filmed and edited at home, it has so far garnered more than 820,000 views and went viral on social media upon release.
She later performed it live, on video call, during Russell Howard’s Home Time comedy programme on Sky One.
On being recognised for her music, she said: “That means more than anything to be honest because I’ve been doing music for over two decades and it’s been a hard struggle, a pleasurable struggle of a journey to get to where I am and I’ve never backed down.
“I’ve always held my integrity and it just proves if you believe in yourself and your craft and you just work and build, you will be commended and you will be rewarded for your success and what you bring to the universe.
“So I just think I’m completely honoured that it’s for music, it just gives me a massive smile on my face.
“It’s really hard to put it in words, I’m so happy.”
The 30-year-old Birmingham native has made a name for herself with witty raps, quirky videos and impressive freestyles.
She is best known for her Queen’s Speech series of freestyle raps, and has been dubbed the UK’s new queen of rap.
The Queen’s Speech videos take inspiration from rap battles, are filmed in one continuous take and deal with topical issues and modern life.
In 2016, she won the Mobo award for best female act, and was seen on screen’s in this year’s Celebrity MasterChef.
She will next be seen taking to the ice as part of the 2021 Dancing On Ice line-up.
On her honour being an inspiration to other young women she said: “A lot of people know me to always go against what a lot of the industry expects from a woman.
“For example, maybe it’s sex appeal or you know provocative lyrics, whatever the case may be, I always try to find a loophole in what everyone is trying to do and just express myself the way I’ve always expressed myself.
“Whereas as it’s like, for other people, I don’t know if they’ve been coerced into doing it that way but I’ve always remained the same, tracksuits or just clothes that is not showing my body because I really want people to listen to my lyrics instead of watch what I wear, so I hope a lot of young girls are going to see this and be like this is the route I want to go.
“I want to be able to bring awareness in times like these which we can encourage people and uplift people in the lowest times of any moment that we’ve ever had, I think this is one of the lowest times of our generation so I think that this is an amazing example for the younger girls and boys to do what they feel best for them.”