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Emel Sherzad was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in a family of visual artists and music lovers. Emel grew up in Afghanistan, France and Italy. As a result of the 1978 communist coup in Afghanistan, Emel and his entire family became political prisoners. After being exiled from his native land, Emel lived as a political refugee in Lausanne, Switzerland for over 5 years. Upon graduating from high school (Ecole Lemania), he obtained a certificate to teach French as a second language. Emel came to the U.S. in 1984. He graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1988 with a B.A. in Spanish and Portuguese. He attended George Mason University as a graduate student in Fairfax, Virginia (1989-91) in the field of linguistics. He currently lives in St. Paul, MN, where he runs an Afghan restaurant, Khyber Pass Cafe.
The love of music and painting have been some of the few constants throughout Emel's life. His art is inspired by different forms of improvised music. Accidentality and shuttered identity are two main themes in his work. His paintings are on display on the walls of Khyber Pass Café.
Emel Sherzad has been hosting International Jazz Conspiracy since 1995. On June 30, 2010 the program was renamed Radio Duende.
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