Arooj Aftab 'beyond thrilled' to win Grammy award for Best Global Performance

The vocalist is the first female Pakistani to win a Grammy.


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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Mon 4 Apr 2022, 4:45 PM

Last updated: Mon 4 Apr 2022, 4:49 PM

Brooklyn-based Pakistani vocalist Arooj Aftab on Sunday scored her first Grammy, winning a prestigious trophy for her song Mohabbat in the Best Global Performance category.

“And the first ever female Pakistani GRAMMY winner is... Arooj Aftab Best Global Music Performance: Mohabbat,” read the post on the Recording Academy’s official Instagram page.

The 37-year-old — who has lived in New York for some 15 years — has been steadily gaining global attention for her work that fuses ancient Sufi traditions with inflections of folk, jazz and minimalism. She was also nominated for the coveted Best New Artist prize, which was won by Olivia Rodrigo.

“I am beyond thrilled,” the artist told journalists backstage at the pre-gala ceremony, at which the vast majority of awards are handed out. “It feels great.”

“I’ve been very nervous all day. And we’re off to a good start.”

“Oh my gosh. I am so proud of this moment personally, but also for the industry itself... tonight we celebrated music as a collective, unapologetically making what we want to make in all its genre-less limitless crossover glory. Thank you and congratulations (sic)” she said.

Pakistani star Mahira Khan said she was “proud” of the award-winning musician. “Shine on, baby! Shine on,” Khan wrote on her Instagram Stories as she shared Aftab’s photograph.

Born to Pakistani parents in Saudi Arabia, Aftab spent her teenage years in Lahore before relocating to Boston’s prestigious Berklee School of Music to study musical production and engineering.

She released her first album Bird Under Water in 2014. She released her third studio album Vulture Prince to critical acclaim, and gained even more attention after former US president Barack Obama included the track Mohabbat on his 2021 summer favorites list.

Aftab has performed at a number of major New York venues including Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art, also opening for Mitski at The Brooklyn Steel in 2018.

Speaking in the days leading up to the Grammys, Aftab praised her fellow artists nominated for Best New Artist, a crop that included Olivia Rodrigo along with rappers Saweetie and The Kid Laroi.

“We’re all so cool — the group itself is kind of like a win,” she said. (With inputs from PTI)

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