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Arooj Aftab

Agent: Eleanor McGuinness | Territory: Europe/UK/Australia

Website | Instagram | Spotify

Transformative may not be an urgent enough word to describe the multi-hyphenate creative Arooj Aftab. Rooted to a constellation of unmappable margins and elegant refusals, she lithely moves against the weight of time and convention, honoring multiple traditions while being owned by none. She eludes categorical capture through an expansive repertoire of study, including the techniques of music production and engineering as well a sprawling vocal practice that moves with cunning intention through and alongside jazz, South Asian classical music, pop, and blues. With and from these living, mercurial forms Aftab labors in design of something that she adoringly refers to as “global soul.” She is its erudite scribe and dark chanteuse, successfully convincing audiences all over the world that genres are a lie but she should be believed.

The scale of Aftab’s musical inheritances are on brilliant display in her two most recent albums: the Grammy-nominated “masterclass in space” Love in Exile (Verve, 2023), co-created with Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily, and her fourth solo project, the incandescent Night Reign (Verve, 2024). Both are spectacles in skill and Aftab tenderly, expertly holds all of their supple elements like priceless heirlooms. Her seeking, from Sufi poets to iconic jazz vocalists, proved to her that “there was no blueprint for this thing I wanted to do,” and it’s for her embrace of risk and nonconformity that Aftab earned her position at the vanguard of creative music. Since 2021, she has delivered “rapturous performances” at major venues and international festivals such as the Newport Jazz Festival, Coachella, Roskilde Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Glastonbury, and twice on NPR’s Tiny Desk series; received critical praise from The New York Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and Time Magazine; and been awarded a Grammy for “Mohabbat” in the Best Global Music Performance category and a Best New Artist nomination for her standout third album, Vulture Prince (Verve/New Amsterdam, 2021), two nominations for Love in Exile, as well as her selection as a 2023 United States Artists Fellow and recipient of the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Music.