Pakistani American Grammy Winner Arooj Aftab Awarded Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Music
- The Brooklyn-based musician is recognized for her songs and compositions that incorporate influences ranging from semi-classical Pakistani music and Urdu poetry to jazz harmonies and experimental music.
Pakistani American Arooj Aftab is the recipient of this year’s Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Music, it was announced on March 7. The Brooklyn, New York-based musician is recognized for her “evocative songs and compositions that incorporate influences ranging from semi-classical Pakistani music and Urdu poetry to jazz harmonies and experimental music,” the foundation said.
The Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise is a $50,000 prize awarded by the Vilcek Foundation. The foundation’s prizes are awarded annually to immigrant artists and scientists whose work has had a profound impact on culture and society.
The foundation raises awareness of immigrant contributions in the United States and fosters an appreciation for the arts and sciences. Established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from former Czechoslovakia, the foundation’s mission was inspired by the couple’s respective careers in biomedical science and art history.
Aftab’s blend of ancient traditions and contemporary style has earned the artist important recognition, including the 2022 Grammy Award for Best Global Performance for the track” Mohabbat.”
The 37-year-old who became the first Pakistani woman to win a Grammy was also nominated in the Best New Artist category but lost to singer-songwriter and actress Olivia Rodrigo.
Last month, she and Indian American Anoushka Shankar performed her Grammy-nominated song “Usher Na” at the premier ceremony before the main awards, becoming the first Pakistani to perform at the prestigious event.
Born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents, Aftab spent her earliest years there before her family moved to her parent’s hometown of Lahore, Pakistan, when she was 11. At the age of 20, she moved to the United States to pursue studies in music and music engineering at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
Since 2009, she has made New York City her home, excited about the opportunities the city presents to see and collaborate with other artists who come to the city from around the globe.
She began her musical career in 2014 and has three albums under her belt. She has also picked up her first Latin Grammy in the best rap/hip-hop category for contributing to Residente’s “Antes Que El Mundo Se Acabe” as a backing vocalist.
She recently teamed up with Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily for a new collaborative album, “Love in Exile,” to be out on March 24 via Verve. Additionally, the trio also announced tour dates, which will kick off at the Big Ears Music Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee on March 31. It will end on Oct. 12 at the Infinite Dream Festival in Iowa City, Iowa.