Boney M’s Liz Mitchell shares MBE pride with late father who held same honour

Boney M star Liz Mitchell has said being made an MBE “feels like a message from above” because her late father was proud to share the same honour.

The original lead singer of disco group Boney M has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the King’s Birthday Honours list for her services to music and to charity.

The 71-year-old told the PA news agency that her late father Norman Mitchell, who was part of the Windrush generation, was “so proud” of becoming an MBE in 2014 for his charitable work.

Boney M in the 1970s
Boney M achieved global success (Alamy)

“It’s pretty amazing that it is happening now,” she told PA of her own honour.

“I got the news actually after the service (for her father). I think if I’d gotten it before, I might have made mention of it because my dad was so proud of his MBE.

“It was a dream for him, come true. He loved the Queen so much.”

Mitchell said she “could not believe it” when she was told of the honour as “everything is so raw with me because my dad just passed and the MBE was so important to him”.

“It’s right in the moment of my mourning my father, it’s just amazing,” she told PA.

“It’s feels like a message from above. I don’t understand it, but it feels like something unique has happened in the atmosphere that I can’t explain.”

Her father, who arrived in the UK in 1955 and founded the West Indian Senior Citizen Organisation in 1980 in a bid to help the elderly Windrush Generation, celebrated his 100th birthday in 2021 before he died recently.

Liz Mitchell
Liz Mitchell in 2007 (United Archives GmbH/Alamy)

Born in Jamaica, Mitchell moved to London to be with her family at the age of 11.

She later moved to Berlin to perform with the German cast of Hair before joining pop group the Les Humphries Singers where she stayed for several years.

She moved back to the UK and joined Boney M in 1976.

Boney M were created by German record producer Frank Farian in the mid-1970s and saw Mitchell star alongside fellow lead vocalist Marcia Barrett and singers Maizie Williams and Bobby Farrell.

The group sold more than 150 million records globally during their 10-year stint, before splitting in 1986.

Boney M at Heathrow Airport in London
Liz Mitchell, Mazie Williams, Bobby Farrell and Marcia Barrett topped the charts in the 1970s (PA)

Their version of Mary’s Boy Child, originally recorded by Harry Belafonte in 1956, topped the charts for four weeks and became the Christmas number one in the UK, but its success was global.

“I’m really happy to know that I’m being seen for the work that we’ve done… We’re not just musicians that sold records in the UK, or in Germany, or France, but literally all around the world,” Mitchell told PA.

The band’s first hit single was in 1976 with Daddy Cool, before proceeding on to have nine further UK top 10 hits including Ma Baker, Rasputin, and Rivers Of Babylon/Brown Girl In The Ring – which peaked at number one.

Mitchell said she believes the music spoke to many different people because it “has a lot of spirit in it, that it is alive and feeding the people”.

She also said “good rhythms don’t die”.

Mitchell described it as “great” to be recognised for her music – and also her charitable work.

She said: “My father was a great community worker. That’s why he received his award for all the work he did.

“And his children, all of us have just more or less taken a leaf out of his book to always try to give as much as we possibly can, where we can, however we can.”

Mitchell formed the Let It Be foundation while on tour in 1989 when she saw children harming each other because she believed they had “no purpose”.