Five things to know about Grammy-nominated musician Arooj Aftab

Pakistani musician Arooj Aftab recently made the nation proud after bagging two nominations at one of the most celebrated music award shows in the world, the Grammys. Aftab is in the running for the award for Best New Artist, alongside teen sensation Olivia Rodrigo, indie-pop group Glass Animals, breakout star The Kid Laroi, as well as hip-hop artist Saweetie.

The Pakistani musician has also been nominated in the category for Best Global Music Album for her latest offering Vulture Prince. Exploding onto the scene through Pakistan’s local indie scene, Aftab’s is a name worth remembering, offering music worth grooving to. Here are five things you should know about the multi-talented, award-winning musician.

Indie sweetheart

Aftab, born in Saudi Arabia, later moving to Lahore, started off recording covers of her favourite songs. Speaking to ArtForm, the singer revealed that her guitar skills are self-taught and that she learned how to sing through observation, watching performances of Industry giants such as Mariah Carey and Begum Akhtar. Aftab’s covers of Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah and Amir Zaki’s Mera Pyar quickly went viral all in Pakistan following their release on the internet.

Sufi-music afficiando

In a 2015 conversation with the Express Tribune, Aftab shared her love for Sufi music. The musician said, “I was listening to a lot of Begum Akhtar, Bade Ghulam Ali — just a lot of Thumris and Khayal gayaki (modern genre of classical singing), in general. It felt very grounding, gave me a sense of peace. In my own music, I was building a style that reflected that peace, using minimal and simple music techniques. I wanted to create music that was calming and simple. To me, that is Sufi music.”

‘Vulture Prince’ is her third album

Vulture Prince isn’t Aftab’s first foray into the music industry, with the musician having released two albums before it as well. She released Vulture Prince in May, with the album being rooted in the ghazal form. The album features songs such as Last Night and Mohabbat.

No stranger to awards

This year’s Grammys aren’t Aftab’s first rodeo, with the musician having previously bagged a Latin Grammy in the best rap/hip-hop category for her contribution to Residente’s Antes Que El Mundo Se Acabe. Aftab also composed the score for the short film Bittu, which was shortlisted in the category of best live-action short film. She won the Student Academy Award in 2020 for her work on the film.


Aftab made it to the former US president Barack Obama’s summer playlist earlier this year. The singer featured alongside the likes of Rihanna, The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, Bob Dylan, with her popular track, Mohabbat. Mira Sethi, Riz Ahmed, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and others congratulated Arooj on the achievement.
The crooner took to social media and expressed gratitude. “Well, this has been wonderful to wake up to!” Arooj shard on Instagram, adding, “Thank you, Barack Obama.”

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