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‘Raat Ki Rani’: Pakistani American Musician Arooj Aftab Releases First Single From Upcoming Album ‘Night Reign’

‘Raat Ki Rani’: Pakistani American Musician Arooj Aftab Releases First Single From Upcoming Album ‘Night Reign’

  • A follow-up to Aftab’s Grammy-winning album”Vulture Prince,” includes features contributions from frequent collaborator Vijay Iyer, as well as Marc Anthony Thompson, who’s actress daughter Tessa made her directorial debut the recently release song.

Pakistani American musician Arooj Aftab has released a new single from her upcoming album “Night Reign,” which will launch on May 31 via Verve. Titled “Raat Ki Rani,”the single is accompanied by a music video marking the directorial debut of actress Tessa Thompson. It is produced by Kishori Rajan, who heads Thompson’s production company Viva Maude. Thompson’s father, singer Marc Anthony Thompson has also contributed to Aftab’s album. 

“Night Reign,” a follow-up to Aftab’s Grammy-winning album”Vulture Prince,” is “about a person whose allure, magnetism, and charisma floats through a beautiful evening garden party,” she said in a Universal Canada press release.  “Interaction with the queen of the night feels unthinkable,” she said. “Sometimes we must be content with an exchange of glances.” 

Produced by Aftab, the album includes features contributions from frequent collaborator Vijay Iyer, as well as Moor Mother, Cautious Clay, Kaki King, and James Francies, among others. She will embark on a major tour across the US, UK and Europe, starting in June, to support “Night Reign.”

In it’s review, Rolling Stone says the song, “named for night-blooming jasmine, wafts like that flower’s scent, AND Thompson captures that melancholy sweetness in the black-and-white video, which features two women who could be falling in love — or starring in a Lynchian perfume commercial.”

Pakistani newspaper calls the song “caressing, controlling and all-consuming” and “a product of dreams, fantasies and gentle heartaches.” Aftab’s voice is powerful, the review notes, “even as it emerges from the background — as though emerging from a chamber carried by the music surrounding it. Its impact and reach is unmatched.”

Aftab, 39, recently teamed up with Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily for a new collaborative album, “Love in Exile,” which came out last year. She received the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Music in March 2023. The Brooklyn, New York-based musician was 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.

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At last year’s Grammy Awards, 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. In 2021, she In 2021, she won a Grammy for the Best Global Music Performance for “Mohabbat,” from her album “Vulture Prince.” 

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.

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