When the Brooklyn-based Pakistani singer-songwriter Arooj Aftab learned last fall that she was among the nominees for the best new artist Grammy, she was shocked.

''I didn't think that something like that could happen,'' the 37-year-old told AFP before heading to Las Vegas for Sunday's gala. She added, ''I felt like it's something that should happen.''

Arooj will be attending the Grammy's for the first time, with two nominations under her belt on the heels of her 2021 album Vulture Prince.

The Recording Academy, in recent years, has made overdue attempts to diversify the genres and backgrounds of artists honoured at its annual awards show. Most notably, they've expanded the field in the top four categories 

Best album, record, song and new artist - from five of them to eight and now 10 nominees, which has resulted in one of the most eclectic new artist crops in recent memory.

''We're all so cool - the group itself is kind of like a win,'' said Arooj, who has been steadily gaining acclaim for her work that fuses ancient Sufi traditions with inflections of folk, jazz and pop.

She said the category this year ''feels like it's this most rightfully representative.'' 

Arooj joins rapper Baby Keem, country singer Jimmie Allen, British rockers Glass Animals, experimental pop act Japanese Breakfast, Australian rapper The Kid Laroi, British singer Arlo Parks, rapper Sweetie and singer-songwriter Finneas - best known for the creative partnership he shares with his sister, Billie Ellish - in the best new artist running.

The first - time nominee joked that at this point she's focused on ''not grimacing in pain in heels and looking forward to having a good time, meeting people.'' She concluded, ''It's going to be lit.'' [AFP]


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