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John Legend To Front New ‘Afghan Star’ Series.


John Legend, the EGOT-winning artist and activist, will host a new original audio documentary about Afghanistan’s cultural revolution told through the lens of the country’s first musical talent show. Produced by iHeartPodcasts and Kaleidoscope, the eight-episode series Afghan Star will tell the story of how a ragtag team scrambled to make the “Afghan Star” television series each week, and the dangers they faced, while trying to push their nation forward with women singing without hijabs, the country’s first rapper, people of warring ethnic groups hugging and cheering for each other on stage.


“I was immediately drawn to this story, with its many heroes and heroines, moments of tragedy, triumph and suspense,” Legend said. “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.”


Legend knows a lot about TV talent shows. He’s currently a coach on NBC’s “The Voice” musical competition series that has a lot in common with “Afghan Star.” He has also become an activist on a variety of social issues. While the podcast is not political in nature, its creators say it is especially timely since it provides a story of resistance and hope in a part the world where optimism can be in short supply. And with Legend’s hosting the podcast, they say the show highlights the power of music to uplift communities across the globe.


“We are thrilled to have John Legend on board for this extraordinary series,” said Will Pearson, President of iHeartPodcasts. “His voice, along with his commitment to social impact and uplifting communities through music has helped bring this show together. We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Kaleidoscope and excited to match extraordinary artists like John Legend with meaningful storytelling.”


“Working with John Legend on this show is a gift,” Kaleidoscope co-founder Oz Woloshyn added. “As a coach on The Voice and a champion of voices less heard, he’s the perfect person to guide listeners through this fascinating story about how music can move mountains.”


Afghan Star is the latest joint project for iHeartPodcasts and Kaleidoscope, the network behind No. 1 hits Skyline DriveThe Last Soviet and On Musk With Walter Isaacson.


“Afghan Star is a perfect example of the kind of series Kaleidoscope creates. We aim to tell stories that make sense of the world around us and bring our listeners on voyages of discovery. We’re excited to continue to partner with iHeartPodcasts to get the word out to the largest audience possible,” Kaleidoscope co-founder Mangesh Hattikudur said.


Kaleidoscope has also partnered with New York-based graphic fiction publisher and entertainment studio AWA (Artists, Writers, & Artisans) to create unique pieces of graphic art for each of the podcast episodes, including an image from superstar artist Rahzzah that represents the spirit of hope embodied by the show. Prints of each artwork will be available for purchase, with proceeds supporting The Noor Initiative, a non-profit working to ensure every Afghan girl has access to education and opportunity.


“We are thrilled to be partners on this incredible story, and to have collaborated to bring it to life visually with some of the best graphic artists in the world, many from diverse backgrounds, and all of whom had a profound emotional response to Afghan Star,” said Matthew Anderson, AWA co-chair and President. “The impact of this story is reflected through the compelling visual art that pushes the boundaries of how art can elevate an audio project, and we hope many fans will collect one or more of the art pieces as a way of celebrating the show and supporting The Noor Initiative.”


Afghan Star is slated to debut today (May 15).

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