Pakistani musician Arooj Aftab has been nominated for two Grammys, Best Global Performance and Best New Artist, for the upcoming ceremony to be held in January. Aftab is a Berklee College of Music trained vocalist, producer, and composer and has already released three solo albums.
A profile done by the ARTFORUM reveals that Aftab is a self-taught guitarist and ‘deeply listened’ to a diverse set of musicians such as Zakir Hussain, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Billie Holiday, and Mariah Carey. The profile describes Aftab’s style as ‘distinctive, sensuous vocals and experimental rhythms’.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, while she was still in Pakistan, Aftab started using the internet to promote her song which was quite unusual at the time. Her covers of Amir Zakirs “Mera Pyar” and Leonard Cohen’s ‘Halleluja’ introduced the indie scene in Pakistan.
Her songs, which were distributed through email, led to her ‘amassing a wide subcultural fanbase in Pakistan”.
She released her third album, Vulture Prince, earlier this year. The album, which is dedicated to her late brother, contains acclaimed tracks such as “Mohabbat” which also made it to former US president Barak Obama’s summer playlist.
Aftab’s interest in music was encouraged by the environment at her home in Lahore, where her parents hosted musical evenings.
She has already won the Latin Grammy for the best rap/hip-hop category and the Student Academy Award in 2020 for composing music for the short film Bittu.