An extraordinary new voice, Pakistani-born, Brooklyn-based singer/composer Arooj Aftab updates and reimagines South Asian music with stunning grace. Harp flourishes signal an affinity with Joanna Newsom, but Aftab’s voice is very different, closer to Sade or a kind of Sufi analogue to the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser.
Arooj blends jazz, Hindustani classical, folk, electronica and other influences into cloudlike poem-songs, often inspired by the ghazals (Arabic poetic form) of her homeland but delivered on her own terms. The minimalist frame in her compositions discards anything that’s unessential and invites the listener into an intimate listening space filled with earnest prayers, laments, and queries. She is often compared with the transcendent Abida Parveen, the Pakistani “Queen of Sufi Music.”
After appearing for her first time in Western Mass at the Barbès in the Woods festival last year, Arooj returns this time with a GRAMMY® in the bag for her song “Mohabbat” – the first Pakistani artist ever to receive the esteemed award. Since last year, she has also appeared in the most highly praised festivals on the planet: Glastonbury, Coachella, Big Ears, Primavera Sound, and Le Guess Who? Her wonderful third album Vulture Prince, released last year, has received unprecedented critical acclaim and coverage including Pitchfork Best New Music, TIME Best Songs of 2021 so far, The Guardian Best Albums of 2021 so far, New York Times, BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour, Uncut, Mojo and more. This Spring Aftab was featured on a billboard in Times Square as Spotify's artist of the month for their "EQUAL Pakistan" initiative.