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Last Updated: Thursday September 17 2009 06:32 GMT

Leah meets Mercury star Speech Debelle

Leah and Speech Debelle

Leah jams with Speech Debelle

Speech Debelle's gone from rapping in the playground to winning one of the biggest music awards going - the Mercury Music Prize.

But the hard work doesn't stop there for the British rapper, as Leah's been finding out...


"Last week Speech Debelle was picking up a Mercury Music Prize for her album Speech Therapy, and a £20,000 cheque for her efforts too.

Ever since then it's been a bit of a whirlwind for the British rapper. She's had lots of TV and radio interviews and while all this has been going on she's getting ready for her European tour too.

You might not have heard much about this singer/rapper before but she mixes hip-hop lyrics with jazz and soul music!

She started rapping in the playground when she was just 13 and spent some time living in homeless shelters across London.

Glastonbury festival

When she decided that a career in music was something she wanted to pursue she didn't stop until she was signed by a record label. A lot of radio stations weren't interested in playing her music - so she got her album heard by posting messages on social networking sites.

Leah with Speech Debelle

Speech Debelle's Newsround rap

She sold about 3,000 copies - not enough to reach the top 40, but it earned her a place on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury, and of course it all helped her nab the Mercury Prize.

Being a big fan of all types of music I was pretty excited when I found out I was being sent to meet Speech. When I turned up to her music studio the rehearsal with her band was in full swing.

There was a lively atmosphere and there's nothing better than experiencing live music. I was even allowed on the drums while Speech was rapping.

Leah playing the drums for Speech Debelle

Leah plays drums for star rapper

It was so much fun and even though everyone clapped and cheered when I had finished, I won't be giving up my day job!

What next?

So after all this success - what next for Speech Debelle?

Well, she's preparing for her European tour and then at the end of the year she's off to Australia to work on her new album.

One of her new songs is called Jade about a girl who becomes famous and then loses it all. I asked her if that was based on Jade Goody and she said 'sort of, but it could apply to anyone'.

So does this new Mercury prize winner feel any pressure about chart success? 'Nah,' she said. 'Of course not. My music speaks for itself.'

But before all that she's getting ready to throw a massive Mercury party - and I've even been invited...!"

Leah