BANDS WE LIKE: THE CLASSICAL CROONING OF AROOJ AFTAB
Few young Desi musicians are as true to tradition as Arooj Aftab, a classically trained singer from Pakistan by way of Boston. Her soft voice and controlled vibrato add dimensions of depth to a single note. I saw Arooj at Jamming for Pakistan, one of countless recent benefits for flood victims in Pakistan. Between rock bands and rappers, her set accompanied only by an acoustic guitarist was a notably mellow moment in the night’s line up. When she took the stage, the room fell to a hush and Arooj filled the space with her gentle yet surprisingly forceful vocal style.
Though her singing speaks to a tried and true format, Arooj incorporates western instruments into her music rather than the traditional qawwali party. I’m guessing the pool of musicians at her alma mater, Berklee, provided some of the talent that accompanies her. At Jamming for Pakistan, guitarist Stelios Michas solely laid down a foundation with understated guitar plucking, but Arooj has been known to have more of an acoustic ensemble backing her.
Her music is calm and it doesn’t max out the LEDs on the mixer quite as much as some of the other stuff we’re into, but there’s definite talent here. We’re waiting to hear a release from this young songstress, or at least some more examples of her skill.