Arooj Aftab becomes the first Pakistani artist to win a Grammy

Arooj Aftab becomes the first Pakistani artist to win a Grammy

The singer was nominated for two categories; Best Global Performance — that she won — and Best New Artist.
04 Apr, 2022

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. This makes her the first Pakistani artist to win a Grammy.

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 favourites 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.

Other award winners

Multi-genre artist Jon Batiste won album of the year and R&B duo Silk Sonic took two of the top honours at the ceremony that featured a surprise appeal for support from wartime President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine.

Batiste landed the night's biggest prize for We Are, an album inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. "I believe this to my core — there is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor," Batiste said. "The creative arts are subjective ... I just put my head down and I work on the craft every day."

Silk Sonic, featuring Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak, claimed the song and record of the year awards for their 1970s inspired hit 'Leave the Door Open'. "We are really trying our hardest to remain humble at this point," joked Paak as the pair accepted the second honour.

Olivia Rodrigo, the 19-year-old singer of heartbreak ballad 'drivers license', was crowned best new artist. "This is my biggest dream come true. Thank you so much!" Rodrigo said as she held her trophy.

Midway through the ceremony, host Trevor Noah introduced a video message from Zelenskiy, who contrasted the joy found through music to the devastation caused by Russia's invasion of his country more than a month ago. "What is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people," Zelenskiy, wearing a green t-shirt, said in a hoarse voice.

"Fill the silence with your music," he added. "Support us in any way you can. Any, but not silence."

The remarks preceded a John Legend performance that featured two Ukrainian musicians and a Ukrainian poet.

The highest honours in music were postponed from January during a spike in Covid-19 cases and moved from Los Angeles to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Thousands of spectators packed the venue, a contrast to last year's scaled-down outdoor event.

Winners were chosen by some 11,000 voting members of the Recording Academy.


Zak Apr 04, 2022 09:53am
Congratulations. Pakistani talent is the best
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TPA Apr 04, 2022 10:09am
Who is she?
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Chrís Dăn Apr 04, 2022 10:17am
Wow:)) What an honour. What a great honour to our young talented lady in the international world of music. Heart-felt congrats:))
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Ahsan Apr 04, 2022 10:22am
Congrats keep it up.
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Khan is On Run Apr 04, 2022 10:47am
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Mango Kashmiri, Srinagar Apr 04, 2022 11:26am
@TPA She is grammy award taker which is rare in India despite so much hype of talent . Pakistani are more intelligent and inquisitive than so called English speaking bharti RSS patshalla fellows .
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Syed A. Mateen Apr 04, 2022 11:36am
Well done Arooj Aftab. Keep it up!
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johnpauljones Apr 04, 2022 11:54am
Absolutely thrilled.. You make us proud.. Spread your wings and fly
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yasir Apr 04, 2022 12:01pm
@TPA Google.
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Arbab Apr 04, 2022 12:21pm
Thumbs up !! Many thanks to our legends for bringing to us such a good quality of music.
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Jayakumar Apr 04, 2022 12:50pm
@Mango Kashmiri, Srinagar before commenting just google once! That will save you from humiliation!
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Ann Apr 04, 2022 12:53pm
Such a rock star! Very much proud of you!
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Easy Apr 04, 2022 01:24pm
@Mango Kashmiri, Srinagar go and google how many indians have won the grammy and for ur kind information indias falguni shah has also won a grammy this yr btw congratulations
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Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Apr 04, 2022 01:26pm
Great move and wonderful news.
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KP Apr 04, 2022 01:33pm
@Mango Kashmiri, Srinagar Go n search how mamy indians have won grammy, ricky kej and falguni shah have won grammy this yr too. Btw congratulations pakistan
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Cutting Chai Apr 04, 2022 01:35pm
@Mango Kashmiri, Srinagar For your information, there have been 50 grammy nominations for Indian artistes, of which 18 times we have won it. Also, in this year's grammy, Ricky Kej, another Indian won his second grammy, this time for best new age album.
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Madhusudan Apr 04, 2022 01:37pm
Three day national holiday be declared in pakistan to celebrate her victory.
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CringeCop Apr 04, 2022 02:29pm
the only Pakistani musician to achieve GLOBAL successs and now watch all pakistanis treat her like dirt like they’ve done to everyone who is actually talented
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Avaneesh Apr 04, 2022 02:33pm
India ha won Grammy's on 17 occasions.. anyways congratulations
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Avaneesh Apr 04, 2022 02:35pm
She is Brooklyn based born in Saudi.
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Syed Hasni Apr 04, 2022 02:37pm
Urooj, I apologize I was watching the Grammys last night just for you when something hit me, my mom
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M. Saeed Apr 04, 2022 03:03pm
@Avaneesh see how many Indians are there in the merit list of best local language singers? Atif Aslam and Nusrat fateh Ali are there in the top 5, while other three are South Indians.
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Aftab Apr 04, 2022 03:28pm
Congratulations! Good for Pakistan in these bleak timed! @Mango Kashmiri, Srinagar Sorry for Arooj though, as she was too rude to sing a cover of Mehdi Hasan and got offended at it when reminded. And this time it's not fully about talent, it's also due to the push of a former POTUS, Obama. There are far better Pakistani singers who do not get any award, coz they don't enjoy that privelege of getting noticed by a POTUS etc.
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MatterOfFact Apr 04, 2022 03:34pm
Nowhere she has said she is proud of being the first Pakistani to win a Grammy, so why is everyone calling her a Pakistani. She has been in US for 15 years and is now a naturalized citizen. All her comments are related to other performers. It's definitely a proud moment for her and her family. She is of Asian origin and has done well in US, but that is because of US not Pakistan. Had she been in Pakistan, she would not even have been in this industry. Being a Pakistani, I would have highlighted her had risen to this level in Pakistan, as a Pakistani.
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Henchi Apr 04, 2022 03:46pm
Pakistan youth is getting too westernized.
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Nomad Apr 04, 2022 03:51pm
Congratulations to the lady. But how exactly has Pakistan contributed to her professional development and growth?
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simpson Apr 04, 2022 03:54pm
Is he a Pakistani citizen?
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Kamran Aquil Apr 04, 2022 04:37pm
Never heard of her, congrats on getting prestigious award
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CrazyToothpaste Apr 04, 2022 05:01pm
@Nomad you don't develop taste and expertise on sufi music living in US,much less in Saudi Arabia
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Hanna Apr 04, 2022 05:07pm
@TPA Grammy award winning Sufi inspired musician.....aren't you old enough to learn to use Google or be able to read the article you clicked on?are you a school dropout?
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Hanna Apr 04, 2022 05:08pm
So proud of her,her outfit looks great too
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Rdeal Fasttrack Apr 04, 2022 06:08pm
@Mango Kashmiri, Srinagar Please grow up and increase your knowledge.
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Ayan Apr 05, 2022 01:22am
Pakistanis are able to accomplish great things in Western, Democratic and Capitalistic countries. Too bad so man in Pakistan have no respect for those three things in the country. This is why Pakistan will remain backwards for ever... no rule of law for the ruling elites.
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M Emad Apr 05, 2022 10:51am
Never heard this name.
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Biryani Munda Apr 06, 2022 02:10pm
@MatterOfFact Common feeling in India and Pakistan. Begaani shaadi mein Abdullah deewana !
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ayesha Apr 06, 2022 05:51pm
her songs make my ears bleed .
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Krishna G Upadhya Apr 06, 2022 09:18pm
Great! Congratulations! I liked your music, it is mystic
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