'Afghan Star' Explores The Talent Show That Sparked A Cultural Revolution

By Sarah Tate

May 20, 2024

Photo: Episode artwork created by Rahzzah for AWA Studios

Music is a powerful instrument, a universal language that crosses cultural and physical barriers to bring together people who are often a world apart, both literally and figurative, and find common ground. A new audio documentary tells one such tale as it recounts the story of Afghan Star, a televised reality competition that searched for the most talented singers across Afghanistan and that many considered to be a cultural revolution after the Taliban, which had banned music, was driven out of the country until returning 15 years later.

Launched May 15 and hosted by John Legend, Afghan Star is an 8-part original audio documentary from iHeartPodcasts and Kaleidoscope that dives into the story of Afghanistan's first musical talent show, from its creation to bringing "warring ethnic groups" together on stage cheering each other on to women taking the spotlight through song, and all of the dangers the show's team faced to make it possible.

In the first episode released May 15, listeners learned more about how the competition got it start and why it was an important moment that helped unite people following dark days in the country.

"I was immediately drawn to this story, with its many heroes and heroines, moments of tragedy, triumph and suspense," Legend said in a press release. "Afghan Star is a true celebration of the power of music and showcases how, even in exile, courageous teams are working around the clock to save our music and bring a little joy back to our communities."

Afghan Star is a limited series with new episodes dropping each Wednesday. Follow along with story as it continues by checking out the Afghan Star podcast at iHeart.com.

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