'Tell Them, I Am': Barack and Michelle Obama to produce Ramadan podcast series for Spotify

The show will feature interviews with Muslim activists, artists, actors, performers and athletes

Pakistani-American Misha Euceph is the host of 'Higher Ground: Tell Them, I Am'. Courtesy Spotify
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Barack and Michelle Obama are behind a new podcast that aims to shed light on diverse Muslim experiences.

Announced on Monday as part of Spotify's Stream On live event, the former president and first lady's company, Higher Ground Productions, will release Higher Ground: Tell Them, I Am exclusively on the platform during Ramadan.

Hosted by Pakistani-American Misha Euceph, the series, which launches on April 12, comprises a collection of interviews with US Muslim activists, artists, actors, performers and athletes.

While the series originally began in May 2019 under the name Tell Them, I Am, the new reboot is poised to provide the show with its biggest audience yet, thanks to the Obamas' backing.

"The stories are universal and the guests are all Muslim," Euceph said during the Stream On session. "The ultimate goal is for people to feel something for them and to fall in love with the people that they are listening to without ever thinking about who they are and what they look like."

Previous episodes of Tell Them, I Am include interviews with actor Ramy Youssef, hip-hop dancer Amirah Sackett and novelist G Willow Wilson.

Higher Ground: Tell Them, I Am is one of three productions the Obamas are working on for Spotify.

The Michelle Obama Podcast returns this year after its debut 10-episode season in September 2020.

"What I love about these conversations is that they are topics and issues that we are all dealing with, no matter what is going on," Michelle said. "Whether that is a global pandemic or a nationwide reckoning with race."

Also released through Higher Ground Productions is Renegades: Born in the USA, an eight-episode series featuring conversations between former president Barack Obama and rocker Bruce Springsteen.

The first two episodes are available on Spotify.

Here are five other things we learnt from Spotify's Stream On.

1. The murder of George Floyd explored in a new podcast series

Also entering the podcast space is Ava DuVernay. The award-winning filmmaker (When They See Us and Selma) will produce a range of scripted and unscripted programmes for the platform. The first is a yet-to-be-titled investigative series focusing on the death of George Floyd at the hands of a US police officer in May 2020. Each episode will explore different facets of the case and its societal repercussions.

2. Batman is coming

As part of a multi-year agreement with Warner Bros and DC, a string of heroes and villains are coming to Spotify through narrative scripted podcasts.

Kickstarting the move later in the year is Batman Unburied, produced by Batman Begins screenwriter David S. Goyer.

"I am incredibly excited to push the boundaries of storytelling," he said. "With Batman Unburied, we are going to do a deep dive into Batman's unconscious mind (and) into his dream state."

3. Spotify goes HiFi

Expect to hear your favourite tunes and podcasts in high definition later in the year when the platform rolls out its Spotify HiFi feature. Available to premium subscribers in select countries, the option promises "CD-quality" sound full of depth and clarity.

One person looking forward to the addition is pop star Billie Eilish. "High quality audio means more info," she said. "It is really important because we want music to be heard the way it is made.”

4. Spotify expands in South-East Asia and Africa

After launching in the Mena region in 2018, Spotify aims to expand its sonic imprint across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America.

While launch dates are yet to be announced, the expansion is good news for music lovers as each new territory means the discovery of new artists and genres.

Some of the culturally rich countries set to join Spotify include Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya and Jamaica.

5. More money is being made on the platform

Perhaps to stem recent criticism by artists regarding Spotify's royalty rates, chief executive Daniel Ek revealed that more than $5 billion was paid out to music rights holders in 2020.

An accompanying statement provided a larger overview of how streaming income was spread. According to the figures released, 57,000 artists represent 90 per cent of monthly streams on the platform, a figure that quadrupled over six years, while 7,500 artists generated more than $100,000 a year over the past four years.