The 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.
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’s also up for the coveted Best New Artist prize, which will be presented during the main Grammy telecast later Sunday.
“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.”
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 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 to AFP in the days leading up to the Grammys, Aftab praised her fellow artists nominated for Best New Artist, a crop that includes favorite 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.