Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab makes it to former President Barack Obama’s 2021 Summer Playlist alongside a diverse range of other artists.
Every year, Obama releases his top picks of the moment in the form of a playlist. This year, he released a summer playlist that features artists from different backgrounds and different genres. The playlist is 38 songs long and includes Rihanna, Bruno Mars, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Sza, H.E.R, and more. Among this group, Obama included Arooj Aftab’s rendition of the ghazal ‘Mohabbat’. Obama calls his playlist ‘a mix of old and new, household names and emerging artists, and a whole lot in between.’
Aftab thanked the former President on her Instagram, calling the experience ‘surreal’,
Originally written by Hafeez Hoshiarpuri, the ghazal is well-known and has been previously recorded and performed by Mehdi Hasan. Aftab’s rendition is beautifully done and is part of her latest album Vulture Prince.
Aftab is a 36-year-old New York-based artist who grew up in Saudi Arabia and then Lahore. In an interview with Pitchfork, she explained that she was raised around ghazals and always had a deep relationship with music. She said it had always been normal for her to make up melodies and sing. Her album, Vulture Prince, is dedicated to her brother Maher who passed away. She describes the album as a process of healing and accepting losses. Aftab told Pitchfork that in an effort to make sure the album was uniquely her own sound, she didn’t listen to any other music for 2 years.
Many people on social media have offered Aftab their congratulations, some stating that Obama’s playlist had led them to discover a great new artist,
Aftab’s friends also chimed in, lauding her for her hard work,
Others showed their appreciation for Obama’s music taste,