Video Premiere: “Diya Hai” Performed by Arooj Aftab and Badi Assad

The dreamy soundworlds of Arooj Aftab are defined by patience–never hurried, her richly ornamented vocals maintain a fluid and uncomplicated air that allow the listener to sit and breathe in beautifully elastic moments.

The Brooklyn-based Pakistani composer-performer’s third studio album, Vulture Prince tells the stories of people, relationships, and moments lost, and the album is dedicated to the memory of her younger brother, Maher. Themes of grief, heartbreak, and longing permeate the album.

On “Diya Hai,” Arooj Aftab delivers the words of 19th century Indian poet Mirza Ghalib:

I gave my friend a task, to deliver the message of my love to my beloved
But alas, my friend has fallen in love with her too
(in the process of delivering my message)

Too bad, now our friendship must turn into rivalry
But I should forgive him, as he is only human, and she is like a miracle

Arooj Aftab--Photo by Diana Markosian

Arooj Aftab–Photo by Diana Markosian

Here’s what Arooj had to say about the voice-guitar duo version of “Diya Hai:”

Collaborating with Badi Assad on this song was a dream come true. I have loved her guitar playing for years, and I still can’t believe we made this happen. Every note she plays has such depth and warmth to it. I also can’t wait to share the full studio version, to which we added an incredible string arrangement by Juliette Jones. Performed by Rootstock Republic string players Jarvis Benson, Malcolm Parson, Lady Jess, and of course, Juliette herself, this string ensemble brought more than a regular string section could, in my opinion. There was again a certain quality to each note, a depth, a wisdom, a sense of history and integrity in the sound. For now, here is the duo with Badi version—a peek into how we recorded it!

Vulture Prince is out on New Amsterdam Records on April 23, 2021, but you can preorder the album here.

About Arooj Aftab

On April 23, 2021, New Amsterdam will release Vulture Prince, the third album from Brooklyn-based Pakistani composer Arooj Aftab. Championed by NPR, who praised her composition as one of the “Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women+,” and the New York Times, who celebrated her work as one of the “Best Classical Music Tracks of 2018,” Aftab’s liminal sound floats between classical minimalism and new age, Sufi devotional poetry and electronic trance, jazz structures and states of pure being. On Vulture Prince, the composer’s remarkable voice, backed by a team of renowned musicians, transports listeners to worlds once known.


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