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Los Angeles Meets Kabul In Ariana Delawari's Debut

Taliban leaders think music is sinister, but nevertheless, they've inspired the sound of Ariana Delawari. She traveled from her home of Los Angeles to the ancient city of Kabul to record her debut album, The Lion of Panjshir.

The record borrows its title from Ahmad Shah Massoud, the revolutionary leader nicknamed "The Lion of Panjshir" after he helped drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Massoud, a prominent anti-Taliban leader and a lover of art and poetry, was assassinated on Sept. 9, 2001.

"I was just very touched by the story of Massoud, someone who at such a young age made so many sacrifices," Delawari says.

Filmmaker and producer David Lynch is a fan of Delawari's. After hearing her play a live show, he signed her to his label and mixed her record himself.

A theme of identity runs through The Lion of Panjshir, and her songs move back and forth between Afghan and Western styles of music. But Delawari says she feels passionately about both halves of her heritage.

"As much as I have a deep connection to Afghanistan," she says, "I have a very deep connection to being American."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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