Arooj Aftab is a Pakistani vocalist, Producer, and Music Composer. The Academy announced on its official Instagram page that Aftab is the “first ever female Pakistani GRAMMY winner.” In 2014, Aftab published her debut album, “Bird Under Water,” on her own independent label.
In Saudi Arabia, Aftab was born to Pakistani parents. When she was about ten years old, her family relocated to Lahore and opted to stay in Pakistan. Aftab’s parents hosted musical evenings at their Lahore house on a regular basis, but she was not allowed to take music lessons because she thought it would interfere with her schoolwork.
She traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, at the age of 19 to pursue music production and engineering at the Berklee School of Music. She subsequently relocated to New York, a melting pot of musical cultures, and discovered that she could sing in Urdu and be accepted. Aftab gained notoriety in Pakistan for her versions of Leonard Cohen’s songs.
Aftab opted to learn to play the guitar by listening to the music of Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, and Billie Holiday, an American jazz diva. Aftab worked on film scores and editing as she continued to make her own songs. In addition, Aftab created the score for Karishma Dev Dube’s ‘Bittu’ (2020), which was nominated for the 93rd Academy Awards for Best Live Action Short Film.
Aftab previously worked for MTV and Vice in New York, where she oversaw the music and video departments. In 2013, she composed the score for Cary Mcclelland’s film ‘Without Shepherds,’ which tells the story of six brave Pakistanis in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto’s killing. Thumris by Begum Akhtar drew Aftab’s attention. Sufi poetry and music eventually led her to the thumris. In 2014, Aftab published her debut album, “Bird Under Water,” on her own independent label.
‘Siren Islands,’ her second album, featured spiraling soundscapes mixed with her deep vocals. At the 64th Annual Grammy Awards in April 2022, Aftab was nominated for Best New Artist and won Best Global Music Performance for her song “Mohabbat.”
The estimated Net Worth of Arooj Aftab is between $500K to $1 Million USD.