Today’s breaking news would definitely be Arooj Aftab bagging two nominations for the Grammys! Arooj is a Pakistani performer and composer who specializes in minimalism, jazz, and neo-Sufi music. She has become the first Pakistani to be nominated for the Grammys and has made the entire nation proud.
Aftab, who was born in Saudi Arabia and later moved to Lahore, began her career by recording cover versions of her favorite songs. In an interview with ArtForm, the singer said that she self-taught her guitar abilities and learned to sing by watching performances by industry heavyweights like Mariah Carey and Begum Akhtar. Following its distribution on the internet, Aftab’s versions of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and Amir Zaki’s Mera Pyar soon became popular across Pakistan.
Aftab expressed her appreciation for Sufi music in a 2015 interview. “I was listening to Begum Akhtar, Bade Ghulam Ali — basically a lot of Thumris and Khayal gayaki (contemporary classical singing) in general,” the artist explained. It felt really grounded to me, and it gave me a sense of calm. Using minimal and simple music techniques, I was developing a style that echoed that tranquility in my own music. I wanted to make music that was relaxing and easy to listen to. That, to me, is Sufi music.”
She isn’t new to winning awards
This year’s Grammys is one of her many achievements which made headlines on Pakistan’s latest news. The musician has previously bagged a Latin Grammy in the best rap/hip-hop category for her part in Residente’s Antes Que El Mundo Se Acabo. She also composed the score for Bittu, a short film that was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film. She was awarded the Student Academy Award in 2020 for her work on the film.
‘Vulture Prince’ is her third album
Vulture Prince isn’t Aftab’s first excursion into the music industry; the musician has already published two albums. In May, she released Vulture Prince, an album steeped in the ghazal style. Last Night and Mohabbat are two of the album’s songs.
Her song was in the ex-US president’s summer playlist
Earlier this year, Aftab made breaking news by being a part of former US President Barack Obama’s summer playlist. With her hit song Mohabbat, the singer was featured alongside Rihanna, The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, and Bob Dylan. Many celebrities like Mira Sethi, Riz Ahmed, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy congratulated her on this achievement.
The future of music in Pakistan and how music unites us all
Surely, with this great achievement, we can hope that there’s a better future for Pakistani music. With our singers being recognized all over the world, it’s possible for Pakistani music to shine beyond borders. Art unites us all, and Arooj has set a great example by bagging nominations in America’s biggest music awards. This shows that our music is not just for the ears, but it’s soulful, one that touches the heart, no matter who it reaches.
You don’t need to understand the same language to enjoy an artist’s music, sometimes the rhythm can have a great impact. Music can heal you in many ways and it can make your day better, even if you just listen to the tune. It’s no doubt that the K-pop industry is taking over really fast, the boy band BTS is on the breaking news all over the world for winning 3 AMAs in one night. They are the talk of the town for a while now, for their astounding performances and soulful music. There’s no barrier between art and humans unless we want to create one.
The whole nation of Pakistan is immensely proud of Arooj Aftab’s achievement. She has paved the way for other Pakistani artists whose music is creative and healing. These nominations also prove that even if you face backlash in a community. Whether you encounter racism, xenophobia, islamophobia, or discrimination of any sort. Music can put an end to all of this. It’s a form of art that can not only unite you with people different from you but can also make you a better and happier person. One who appreciates art in all forms, no matter where it’s created, will always believe in inequality. For sure, Pakistani music can thrive all over the globe, if we show the world what we are capable of.