Sonita Alizadeh has an amazing story to tell.
A profile written by CNN details Alizadeh’s escape from the Taliban-ruled city of Herat, Afghanistan, where she would have been destined for a pre-arranged marriage, to Iran. It was there that Alizadeh discovered Eminem and latched onto the hip-hop culture in a big way.
Sonita eventually began writing her own songs but, as CNN notes, “singing solo as a female is illegal in Iran without special permission from the government–she managed to rap in secret with the help of a few defiant music producers.”
Sonita first gained recognition in 2014 when she won $1,000 in a U.S.-funded competition to get voters in Afghanistan to the polls.
Another pivotal moment in her life happened at the age of 16, when her mother told her that that she must return to Afghanistan for to marry an older man, Sonita wrote and did a music video (above) for a song called “Daughters for Sale.”
The track grabbed Strongheart Group, an American organization that offered Sonita a student visa where she could attend Wasatch Academy in Utah on a full scholarship to receive a full education and chase her dreams as a rapper.