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Ricky Kej, Falu and Arooj Aftab Represent the Indian Subcontinent at the Grammys

Kej’s album ‘Divine Tides’ with drummer Stewart Copeland earned him his second Grammy, Falu and Pakistan-origin Arooj Aftab became first-time winners

Anurag Tagat Apr 04, 2022

(Clockwise from top left) Arooj Aftab, Falu, Ricky Kej and Stewart Copeland accepting their Grammys in stills from the Grammy Premiere ceremony.

The 2022 Grammys saw more South Asian representation among its winners, thanks to Bengaluru composer Ricky Kej, Mumbai-bred, New York-based singer-songwriter Falu aka Falguni Shah and Pakistani-origin artist Arooj Aftab.

Kej – who collaborated with the Police drummer Stewart Copeland for their album Divine Tides – won his second Grammy for Best New Age Album. In 2015, Kej’s collaboration with South African flautist Wouter Kellerman – Winds of Samsara – won him his first trophy in a category that has in the past been dominated by artists like Enigma, Enya, Pat Metheny and more.

At the Grammy Premiere ceremony, Kej was flush with surprise as Copeland spoke first in their acceptance speech. “I’m a rock drummer in this category. Don’t let anyone tell you that drums can’t love. This award is for Ricky Kej,” Copeland said. Kej, for his part, spoke about looking up to Copeland as his hero and also invoked the need for coexistence now more than ever.

Prior to Kej’s win that night, Arooj Aftab’s enchanting album Vulture Prince and her lead single “Mohabbat” gained her the Best Global Music Performance award. The first ever recipient in this new Grammy category, Aftab was amazed at the nominees she shared space with. She said, “I think I’m gonna faint. I feel like this category in and of itself has been insane… Burna Boy, Wizkid, Femi Kuti, Angelique Kidjo. I mean, should this be called Best Global Music Performance? I feel like it should be called yacht party category. Thank you so much for everyone who helped me make this record, all my incredible collaborators for following me and making this music that I made about everything that broke me and put me back together. Thank you for listening to it and making it yours.”

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Falu, who had been nominated at the 2019 Grammys for her album Falu’s Bazaar, found that second time’s the charm with her win in the Best Children’s Music Album for A Colorful World. Joined by three children who served as her co-vocalists, Falu dedicated the win to her late father. She added in her speech, “Please send positive vibes to Ukraine and the families who are displaced. To women, keep trying, we are going to do this!”

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