coachella music festival: Pakistani Grammy-winning singer Arooj Aftab makes her Coachella music festival debut

Fresh off of her historic Grammy win, Brooklyn-based Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab has added another feather to her cap with her debut at the acclaimed Coachella music festival.

She graced the California desert with a set centered on her melodious Urdu lyricism, a gesture that broke barriers as she became the first Pakistani to perform at the prestigious festival.

For Aftab, the language barrier no longer exists: “It’s a door that has opened.

The 37-year-old – who has just released a cover of Spanish flamenco revisionist Rosalia’s ‘Di mi number’ – sees a revolution in popular music, with artists navigating freely across genres and borders.

“There’s a movement going on in the music industry in general,” she told AFP on the grounds of Coachella, where she delivered a moving rendition of her work that merges ancient Sufi traditions. with inflections of folk, jazz and minimalism.

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“Audiences and musicians create music and audiences listen to music with a great freedom of spirit. Less genre-genre, less boundary-boundary,” she said.

“It’s so free, and open, and really, really beautiful.”

She credits the Latinx community for making huge strides in this regard, citing Rosalia along with Becky G, Karol G, J. Balvin and Bad Bunny as influential in the transformation.

“The trap movement definitely changed the way listeners listen,” Aftab said, referring to the explosion of hip hop from the southern United States that later made its way to Latin America and merged with reggaeton.

The rise of Latin music on American airwaves and especially on streaming platforms “has created a big opening in the minds of listeners in America,” she continued.

“They’re now listening to music they don’t understand, and it’s okay! They love it. It’s a big step.”

Aftab said the openness made him feel more liberated with his own creations, releasing music based on emotions without limitation.

“It’s personal music,” she said. “It’s not ‘my country, my country’ – it’s global music. It’s all we feel, it’s all the people we meet.”

“Everything that makes my heart sing is in the music.”

– ‘A top’ –
With three studio albums, Aftab made history a few weeks ago by becoming the first Pakistani solo singer to win a Grammy, winning for her song “Mohabbat” in the Best Global Performance category.

She was also nominated in the prestigious field of Best New Artist – although that award went, as expected, to pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo.

But Aftab is basking in the moment of recognition, savoring his career accolades as well as his two performance dates at the inaugural Coachella festival.

“It’s really amazing, it’s a high — it’s a career highlight,” the singer said. “I worked for this moment and imagined that this moment would come or not.”

“And it happened! Which is miraculous.

She’s also thrilled to be back in front of live audiences, with Coachella back after a pandemic-induced three-year hiatus.

Featuring artists from around the world, the Coachella 2022 poster is a reflection of the globalization of music and the fluidity of genres.

For Aftab, it’s a great victory: “It’s a door that has opened, that’s for sure.”

“And I’ll leave the door open, that’s for sure.”