Her name is Mursal — Arabic for “on a mission.”
And she is indeed on a mission — to meet Beach Boy Brian Wilson.
This 13-year-old girl from Kabul may wear a headscarf and a shy smile, but she can strum a guitar and carry a tune just the same. She and about 30 other street kids sang and recorded Wilson’s “Love and Mercy,” accompanied by the musician’s pre-recorded voice, in a Kabul recording studio.
These are Muslim kids who learn English through the words of rockers under the tutelage of Orange County musician Lanny Cordola, who has lived in the war-torn city for the last year and a half teaching traumatized children, mainly girls, to sing and play guitar.
Last month, Wilson and his wife, Melinda, invited Mursal to visit them Oct. 14 at the final concert of the singer’s current world tour, at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa.
But she can’t come because her U.S. visa has been denied twice, Cordola said, speaking by phone from Kabul.
“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “She’s a really happy kid. All she wants to do is thank (Wilson) and make a connection.”
Mursal was Cordola’s first student and inspiration behind his after-school rock music program Lanny Cordola and The Miraculous Love Kids — MLKs for short.
Cordola met the girl’s family after a suicide bomber took the lives of several people including her sisters Khorshid, a 15-year-old skateboarding sensation and Parwana, 11, who had dreams of becoming a doctor.
Mursal and her sisters were among street kids who sold scarves, bracelets, chewing gum and other trinkets out of knapsacks to G.I.s and other foreigners.
A journey to Mursal’s dilapidated home in 2014 inspired Cordola to relocate to Kabul. He’s had to move several times within the city because of bombings, gunfights and security risks. But Cordola says helping these young children’s hearts heal and watching Mursal blossom and thrive, has made it all worthwhile.
Cordola is partial to girls because, he says, Afghan boys have more options for after-school programs. But he’s…