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September 17, 2002
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Up and coming rapper Miss Dynamite has become the surprise recipient of Britain's most prestigious popular music award, the Mercury Music Prize, for her debut album A Little Deeper.The 21-year-old north Londoner is the first solo black artist to scoop the accolade, seeing off stiff competition from 11 other acts including bookies’ favourite The Streets (aka Mike Skinner) and veteran performer David Bowie. 

Miss Dynamite, who picked up £20,000 as well as the award at the gala ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, said she had “not a clue” why she had won. “I really don’t know what to say, I have never been speechless in my life,” she continued. “I wanted to win, but I didn’t really think that I would... I feel crazy just to be here… What am I doing here? I just started off a year ago.” 

The garage star later said she would be donating the prize money to charity – though she had yet to decide which one. A singer, rapper, songwriter and producer rolled into one, Miss Dynamite – real name Naomi McLean – has seen an incredible rise to fame in a matter of months and been hailed by critics and fans for her unpredictable lyrics and voice. 

The artist has scored chart hits with singles Dy-nami-tee and It Takes More, and her album A Little Deeper has already gone silver in Britain since its release in June. Despite this success, she was always a longshot to win the Mercury Prize. Mercury nominees are drawn from rising British talents across the popular music spectrum – although this year it also included 55-year-old David Bowie for his album Heathen. The winner is decided upon by a panel of independent judges and the competition has a reputation for not giving the award to the hit favourite or honouring rank outsiders. Past winners include PJ Harvey, Gomez and Portishead.

Photo: ©

Despite her recent success, Miss Dynamite was as surprised as anyone else when her name was read out as the winner of the Mercury Award and the 21-year-old said in her acceptance speech she had "not a clue" why she had wonPhoto: © PA

Photo: ©

Past winners of the Mercury Prize have included Gomez, Portishead and PJ Harvey (above)

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