Behind the South Asian folk and jazz fusion that won a Grammy, Aftab draws inspiration from what she calls her “inherited heritages” — Pakistani and Sufi traditions, jazz, folk, and minimalist music.
Arooj Aftab is the first woman of Pakistani descent to win a Grammy. Her performance of Mohabbat won her the Best Global Music Performance at the 2022 Grammys. Based in Brooklyn, the composer recently won the category ahead of Femi Kuti (“Pà Pá Pà”), Wizkid and Tems (“Essence”), Angélique Kidjo and Burna Boy (“Do Yourself”) and Yo-Yo Ma and Angélique Kidjo (“Blewu”).
“Mohabbat” means one of many words for “love” in Urdu.
Born to Pakistani expatriates in Saudi Arabia, Aftab started learning the guitar after her move to Lahore, Pakistan when she was ten. Already an established musician in New York’s jazz and new music scenes, her approach to a minimalist and simple rendition in Urdu continues to gain interest.
As a singer, she has worked with artists and participated in Hindi films. Aftab sang the song Insaaf from the movie Talvar. Composed by Vishal Bhardwaj, the lyrics were written by Gulzar.
Vulture Prince, Aftab’s third album, was released in 2021 and has since topped several charts; her Grammy-winning track Mohabbat from the album made its way into Barack Obama’s annual summer playlist. She also served as an editor for the documentary Armed With Faith (2017), for which she received an Emmy Award in the category of News & Documentary.
Aftab was also nominated in the Best New Artist category this year, but the award went to Olivia Rodrigo. In a recent interview with NPR, Aftab noted her pride as the first Pakistani woman to be nominated in the Grammy’s Best New Artist category. But she shrugs at the qualifier, pointing out that she has now spent more time in the U.S. than in Pakistan.
APR 10, 2022 – The Parkway Theater – Minneapolis, MN
APR 11, 2022 – Constellation – Chicago, IL
NOV 6, 2022 – Primavera Sound – Barcelona, Sant Adrià de Besòs
Falguni Shah, an Indian-American singer-songwriter, has won Best Children’s Album at the Grammys
The Grammy 2022 also saw Falguni Shah, best known by her stage name Falu, received the Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album for her album “A Colorful World”. Her album titled “Falu’s Bazaar” had previously been nominated in 2018: a creative work that attempts to reassure her son of his roots and identity. Shah was born in Mumbai, India. Her influences began with her mother and grandmother, who are both musicians. Schooled in the Jaipur Gharana musical tradition, she went on to train with sarangi and vocal master, Ustad Sultan Khan.
After moving to the U.S in 2000, Falguni became the lead singer for Karyshma, the Indo-American band based in Boston. After that, she went on to collaborate with Asian Massive frontman Karsh Kale in 2001. She relocated to New York after completing two-year Indian music visiting lectureship at Tufts University in Boston.
Blending traditional Indian melodies with modern western influences, Shah’s blossoming career involved working with A. R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire), Yo-Yo Ma (in The Silk Road Project), Philip Glass, Wyclef Jean, her teachers, Ustad Sultan Khan, Blues Traveler, Ricky Martin, and Bernie Worrell (Parliament-Funkadelic).
Cover Image credit: Amanda M Hatfield