Arooj Aftab, the Brooklyn-based Pakistani artist who recently notched a handful of Grammy nominations (including Best New Artist), performed a trio of songs from her acclaimed album Vulture Prince on the latest installment of NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert series.
Aftab and her backing ensemble staged their performance in a Brooklyn convent with paint peeling off the walls, the group’s sound filling the cavernous space. Aftab, who sings in Urdu, opened her set with the sprightly “Suroor,” followed by the lush, lovelorn “Mohabbat,” then closed with the pensive, poignant “Saans Lo.”
For the performance, Aftab was backed by a small chamber ensemble that included classical guitarist Gyan Riley (son of celebrated composer Terry Riley), Celtic harpist Maeve Gilchrist, violinist Darian Donovan Thomas, and bassist/synth player Shahzad Ismaily.
Along with the arrival of Aftab’s Tiny Desk concert, it was announced Wednesday, Dec. 8, that the singer-songwriter had signed a new record deal with Verve. “We are so proud to welcome Arooj to the Verve Records family,” Verve head Jamie Krents said in a statement. “Arooj has made history with these [Grammy] nominations and we look forward to helping even more listeners discover the Vulture Prince album and her future recordings.”
Vulture Prince, which was released in April, marks Aftab’s third solo record, following 2018’s Siren Islands and her 2014 debut, Bird Under Water. The record helped her become the first Pakistani woman ever to be nominated for a Grammy as she picked up two nods: Best New Artist and Best Global Music Performance for “Mohabbat.”