M.I.A. has been tapped to curate the 24th Meltdown Festival at London's Southbank Centre. No lineup has been announced yet for the event, which will take place from June 9-18. The often controversial singer who has frequently taken on issues of inequality, women's rights and global politics -- and whose most recent album, AIM, featured a single, "Borders," about the European refugee crisis -- has promised a few surprises at this year's event.
"For me this Meltdown will be about putting on a musical week that shows different types of music which have inspired each other to exist," the artist says in a statement on the Meltdown site. "Genres that support other genres, redefining the concept of a melting pot. Respect the history, don’t live in it. I plan to bring together music’s best forward thinkers who have contributed to all our lives. When music acts as inspiration, it’s boundary-less."
Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly welcomed M.I.A.'s unpredictable nature. "It’s not often that we encounter such an unbridled creative force, excelling in whichever field they try their hand," Kelly said. "M.I.A. has not just broken barriers as a musician, creating music that is embraced the world over, but she has made art her rallying cry – and has stayed true to her conviction, as an artist, woman and citizen of the world."
M.I.A. follows a long tradition of boundary-pushing artists who've curated Meltdown in the past, including David Bowie, Morrissey, Yoko Ono, Massive Attack and Patti Smith. She landed the gig after being tapped to headline London's first AFROPUNK Festival last summer, but then dropped from the bill after controversial statements she made about the Black Lives Matter movement.
"In a progressively polarised world, we are now appreciating those that don't fear standing out and those that defy moulds," said Bengi Unsal, Senior Contemporary Music Programmer at Southbank Centre. "M.I.A. is fearless in the way she pushes boundaries and makes music that is so refreshingly original that it effectively doesn't age. Her ever-evolving, yet readily identifiable musical style inspires people to dance, whilst giving a voice to the voiceless, from refugee camps in Africa through to London's streets. M.I.A. is a trend setter and social critic, but most importantly, an internationally loved and acclaimed musical star."