Arooj Aftab's Historic Grammy Win Opens A New Page For Independent South Asian Creatives

Arooj Aftab's Historic Grammy Win Opens A New Page For Independent South Asian Creatives
Image Courtesy: Pitchfork

“And the first-ever female Pakistani GRAMMY winner is... Arooj Aftab Best Global Music Performance: Mohabbat,” reads The Recording Academy’s Instagram page, and with that Best Global Music Performance win Arooj opens a new chapter for the South Asian creatives.

While a Grammy is any artist’s dream (despite their problematic history of whitewashing and sidelining black artists) and the amount of individual recognition one earns from that is unmatched, some wins go a long way in the context of the collective and community representation it presents. Especially when Arooj was among the few artists of colour among a widely white awardee list. It allows for a whole new generation of South-Asian creatives to aspire for a global platform and the recognition that comes with it.

“Oh my gosh. I am so proud of this moment personally, but also for the industry itself,” said Arooj in her Instagram post. Further adding, “... 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.”

Whether it is unclear as to whether it is the first-ever win by a Pakistani artist or one by a female Pakistani artist, the historic win will definitely open a new audience to the plethora of South-Asian talent and push more and more people into tapping into unconventional musical genres. The Brookyln-based Pakistani musician’s sonic landscape which dabbles in jazz, minimalism, and neo-Sufi sounds is further proof that the world is ready to diversify its playlists and engage with newer sounds.

The 37-year-old who has been living in New York for the past 15 years was born to Pakistani parents in Saudi Arabia and grew up in Lahore before shifting to Boston for her music production and engineering degree at Berklee School of Music. The artist had been gaining global attention for her music, especially for her ability to seamlessly fuse ancient Sufi traditions with inflections of jazz, folk and minimalism.

Her third studio album “Vulture Prince” was released to much critical acclaim and the track ‘Mohabbat’ which won her the Grammy also previously featured in former US president Barack Obama’s 2021 summer favourites list.

You can checkout Arooj Aftab’s work here.

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