Arif "Azerrz" Zahir, famous for his classic, quintessential voice impressions, parodies, and side-splitting gameplay videos, is a popular rising star making some huge jumps as a crossover artist.

But this talented kid from New Bedford has now gone from brilliant digital creator to Hollywood celeb.

I can't begin to tell you how proud I am to help announce that Arif has been officially named to join the renowned cast of Fox's Family Guy, coming aboard to voice the iconic character, Cleveland Brown. And Arif's hometown radio station, 1420 WBSM, is commemorating the occasion with a special appearance Wednesday, October 28 at 9:15 a.m. during my morning show.

Arif was selected to be the new voice of Cleveland Brown after the voice actor who created the character, Mike Henry, decided to step away from doing the voice because he is a white man and felt it would be better if the character was voiced by a Black person. And Arif was the perfect choice, after spending years impersonating Cleveland and numerous other celebs and characters on his YouTube channel. Arif will take over in episodes that will air in 2021, since the 2020 season was already recorded before Henry announced his decision.

Check out this video, but warning, there is some profanity at the end:

This is such a fantastic success story with local connections galore. Rev. David Lima, Executive Minister of the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford, reached out and asked if I'd be interested in interviewing Arif. And his aunt, who is sister to Arif's mother, wants New Bedford to know how proud Arif makes the Cape Verdean community.

Before moving to the West Coast, Arif Zahir Lopes lived in New Bedford all of his childhood. He attended Nativity Preparatory School and Keith Middle School. As a young boy, Arif loved to entertain his friends, relatives and audiences. His love for voice acting became his passion, and as he matriculated through high school and college, the kid from New Bedford kept working at his craft and earned the status of a YouTube luminary, with an immense following of over 6.29 million fans.

His mother said to keep your wishes and dreams alive because Arif is her witness that they do come true.

Tune in and join me in giving Arif "Azerrz" Zahir, the upcoming voice of Family Guy's Cleveland Brown, a standing ovation.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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