Arooj Aftab Becomes First Pakistani Singer to Win a Grammy


New York: Pakistani vocalist Arooj Aftab has 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 the US city of New York for some 15 years, has been steadily gaining global attention for her work that fuses ancient Sufi traditions with folk, jazz and minimalism.

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

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 music 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 favourites list.

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

Aftab praised her fellow artists nominated for Best New Artist, a crop that includes favourite 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.