Arooj Aftab considers her Grammy nominations a triumph. But they won’t define her

Jonaki Mehta from NPR (All Things Considered):

Remnants of a party linger inside Arooj Aftab’s Brooklyn brownstone on a gloomy winter day: Slightly deflated balloons in metallic purple, red and gold hover against the ceiling of her living room, and a well-used ashtray sits on her patio table. Against one wall, a banner reads “TWO TIME GRAMMY NOMINEE LIVES HERE” in big, bold letters. It is mid-December, just a few days after she heard the news. “I did not get this myself and, like, put it up,” Aftab says, chuckling as she points to the banner. Her friends had bought it for the party they threw to celebrate Aftab’s nominations for Best New Artist and Best Global Performance for her song “Mohabbat.” Aftab has lived in this apartment for more than six years. She shares it with her partner, roommate, and Tuna, a feral cat she took in as her own. She has spent a lot of time here, ruminating, writing, rehearsing and occasionally recording music— some of which is on her 2021 album Vulture Prince.

…She draws inspiration from the likes of Abida Parveen — “the queen of Sufi music” — famed jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, and minimalist composer Terry Riley. Yet while her influences span genres and generations, Aftab says she didn’t listen to any music while making her latest album. “It distracts you from your own voice,” she sums up neatly.

More here.