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Pakistani American Arooj Aftab, Half Sisters Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones Nominated for 65th Grammy Awards

Pakistani American Arooj Aftab, Half Sisters Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones Nominated for 65th Grammy Awards

  • Also nominated is the Berklee Indian Ensemble which aims to help artists from all over the world to create music influenced by Indian music.

Arooj Aftab, Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones are among the South Asian American artists nominated for the 65th annual Grammy Awards, according to the announcement made earlier today. Also nominated is the Berklee Indian Ensemble, which aims to provide “an open and inclusive creative space for musicians from all over the world to explore, study, interpret, and create music influenced by Indian music today.”

Beyoncé is the most nominated artist at the 2023 awards, with a total of 9 nominations. Harry Styles and Adele are tied for second place, earning seventh nominations each.

Arooj Aftab is nominated in the Best Global Music Performance category along with sitarist Anoushka Shankar for her song “Udhero Na” from a deluxe edition of her third album “Vulture Prince.” In a statement after releasing the song in March, and reported by Pitchfork, Aftab said “’Udhero Na’ has been one of my dearest songs, written in 2005 and never released, played live on and off over the years.” Noting that she’s “always held it close to my heart,” she said she’s “so happy to release it finally.” She said the song “describes a very unique and fleeting emotional moment, a super underrated feeling. When the thought of someone from a very old and ‘passed’ relationship just pops into your head as you go about your present day to day.”

Last year, Aftab won the coveted trophy in the Best Global Music Performance category for her song “Mohabbat.” The 36-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.

Born in Saudi Arabia, Aftab spent her teenage years in Lahore before relocating to Boston in 2005 to study music production and engineering at the prestigious Berklee School of Music. She prefers to sing in Urdu and blends minimalist jazz and neo-Sufi sounds. She is an “entirely self-taught female soloist and guitarist in a culture where opportunities for music study — especially for women — are severely limited,” according to her profile on the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where she studied music production and engineering. 

Anoushka Shankar, the daughter of legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar is also nominated in the Best Global Music Album category for “Between Us… (Live),” along with Metropole Orkest & Jules Buckley, featuring Manu Delago. Her website describes her as the “singular, genre-defying figure within the classical, contemporary, and progressive world music scenes.”

In “Between Us,” Shankar collaborates with her regular collaborator Hang (handpan) maestro Manu Delago alongside Holland’s Metropole Orkest directed by conductor and arranger Jules Buckley. “I really feed off working creatively with others,” Shankar told DJ magazine during the album’s release in July. “Something turns on in collaboration, in chemistry, in connection. It can feel like a dance, like we’re in something together.”

The album was recorded in 2018 during a stint of shows in the Netherlands and is her first live album since 2001’s ‘Live At Carnegie Hall.’ “It gleans material from four solo albums — ‘Rise’ (2005), ‘Traces of You’ (2013), ‘Traveller’ (2015), and ‘Land of Gold’ (2016) — as well as one previously unreleased track,” per DJ magazine. 

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Also nominated in the category is the Berklee Indian Ensemble for their debut album “Shuruaat.” Released on July 15, it features 98 musicians from all over the world including Grammy-winning tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, renowned singers Shankar Mahadevan, Vijay Prakash, and Shreya Ghoshal, among others, according to a Berklee press release. “The 10 tracks in the album include original student compositions influenced by everything from jazz and progressive rock to Sufi and Middle Eastern music,” the press release said. “It is fitting that ‘Shuruaat,’ which means ‘beginning’ in Hindi, displays our journey so far, and the one we’re about to begin,” the press release quoted founder Annette Philip as saying. 

Shankar’s half-sister Norah Jones has a nomination in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category for her first full live album “Dream of Christmas (Extended).”Released in April this year, Jones’ “Til We Meet Again” includes globe-spanning performances from the U.S., France, Italy, Brazil, and Argentina that were recorded between 2017-2019. She will compete against Diana Ross (“Thank You”); Kelly Clarkson (“When Christmas Comes Around…”); Michael Bublé (Higher); and Pentatonix (“Evergreen”).

Born Geetanjali Norah Shankar in Brooklyn, New York, Jones first emerged on the world stage with the February 2002 release of “Come Away With Me,” which won her five Grammys, including Best New Artist, Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year. She has released a series of critically acclaimed and commercially successful solo albums —“Feels Like Home” (2004), “Not Too Late” (2007), “The Fall” (2009), “Little Broken Hearts” (2012), and “Day Breaks” (2016). She has released albums with her collective bands The Little Willies, El Madmo, and Puss N Boots featuring Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper.

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