The Grammy nominations for the 2022 edition were unveiled on Tuesday and a lot of music fans want to know about an unfamiliar name that has taken over social media.
Arooj Aftab has become the first Pakistani to be nominated for the Best New Artist, which is described as a “category that recognises an artist whose release achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape”.
But who is Arooj? According to Billboard magazine, she is a composer, vocalist and producer and has three solo albums to her credit. She was trained at the Berklee College of Music.
Arooj was born in Saudi Arabia and her family moved back to Lahore when she was 11 years old. In a profile published on ArtForum in April 2021, Arooj shared that she listened to Begum Akhtar, Mariah Carey and Billie Holiday while growing up and taught herself how to play guitar. It was in Pakistan that Arooj started promoting her music on the internet. Her covers of Amir Zaki’s Mera Pyar and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah helped her establish herself as one of the first “indie” artists in Pakistan.
Arooj’s latest studio album Vulture Prince was released in May through New Amsterdam Records. The album has seven tracks among which Mohabbat and Last Night received acclaim from critics and audiences alike. She has collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Darian Donovan Thomas for Baghon Mein, and Brazilian singer Badi Assad for Diya Hai.
In July, Arooj’s Mohabbat was on Barack Obama’s summer playlist as well.
Arooj Aftab has won a number of music awards. Last year, she received her first Latin Grammy in the best rap or hip-hop category. Arooj was honoured with a Student Academy Award for composing music for the short film Bittu as well.
A number of celebrities, including Hadiqa Kiani, and Fakhr-e-Alam have congratulated Arooj on her achievement and wished her luck. The 64th Grammy Awards will be held on January 31, 2022.