Search
  • Kornelia Binicewicz

Looking for the heroine

Updated: May 24

I was looking for my heroine. Before I arrived in Turkey, I was fantasizing about her, her life, and her music. In my imagination, she must have been a combination of Selda Bağcan, Kamuran Akkor, and Ajda Pekkan. If you are familiar with three of them, you know that this combination is just a simple representation of the most recognized music genres and aesthetic styles from the 70s.





I was looking for my heroine. Before I arrived in Turkey, I was fantasizing about her, her life, and her music. In my imagination, she must have been a combination of Selda Bağcan, Kamuran Akkor, and Ajda Pekkan. If you are familiar with three of them, you know that this combination is just a simple representation of the most recognized music genres and aesthetic styles from the 70s.

Selda represents the most acclaimed and recognized abroad psychedelic Anatolian rock, Kamuran stands for pretty light and westernized arabesque. At the same time, Ajda embodies the only Turkish diva style, blending a Turkish vocalization in an ocean of westernized forms since the 60s until now. This naïve categorization of the three outstanding music personalities can serve only as an introduction and a more in-depth and more precise description of their styles.

Selda's recognition as the only female singer of psychedelic Anatolian rock can be explained through her deep connection to folk music, especially the tradition of aşık music. Aşıks were always the messengers of local news and representatives of the folks (Turkish citizens mostly coming from rural areas, but also massively moving to a big metropolis like Istanbul or Ankara). Socialism and anti-capitalism were common beliefs, while a bağlama and their songs were their means of communication with their audience. Selda's musical path was strongly connected to the left side of the political scene of Turkey and needed to be linked to her early years of academic years in the 70s. Her activity in music stands out from the music scene of those times. Selda not only recorded and performed with the most acclaimed psychedelic and folk Anatolian bands of the times – Moğollar, Kardaşlar, Dadaşlar, musicians like Zafer Dilek, Arif Sağ or Okay Temiz. Unlike many other Turkish female artists, Selda stayed out of popular music styles. She was devoted to good old classics – Türkü and folk with rock and psychedelic influences. Selda's power and uniqueness lie definitely in keeping up with this musical style.

Kamuran Akkor was a fulfillment of all my expectations. She was a great famous singer and a highly skilled Turkish art music performer, who understood how to apply both Eastern and Western compositions to her music. Kamuran first appeared on a stage as a teenager and was strongly encouraged to perform and study Turkish classical singing by her older sister Gonül. I was mesmerized by Kamuran's voice – a bit smoky, dark but also extremely clean. Her songs from the 70s mostly recorded with the best Turkish pop and jazz orchestras like Vasfi Uçaroğlu, Süheyl Denizci or Dün Bügün Yarın Orkestrası, was no.1 in music charts. But only later, when I met Kamuran, I also understood that her huge inspiration was Fairuz (you can read the article about Kamuran and Fairuz here). The greatest singer in Lebanon had an enormous impact on young Kamuran and her perception of music.

Ajda Pekkan was, is a real Turkish diva. She is a genuine star, and hardly anybody can compete with her glory. Her musical career is inspiring and astonishing at the same time – Ajda has been famous since the 60s until now. She launched her music career as a very talented, young, and beautiful singer covering Western hits with Turkish lyrics in 1964 – from "Strangers In The Night," "My Baby Shot Me Down," "Que C'est Triste." But her repertoire was also including hits coming from all over the world – "Megie Mele" of Filippos Nikolaou or "Kavir-e Del" of Marjan, "An En Nai" of Aris San, "Kan Ezzaman "and "Tariq El Nahl "of Fairuz and Rahbani Brothers. The arrangements of the different songs were not a specialty only of Ajda Pekkan those times. It was the most powerful and the most success-generating sector of the music industry those days in general. But her skill of incorporating the most famous music genres into her style was a sure gift and proved to be genius for many decades. Ajda worked with the best people in Turkish music – starting from the best lyricists and arrangers like Fecri Ebcioğlu, Fikret Şeneş, Norayr Dermirci and the best orchestra of Onno Tunç, Istanbul Plak Orkestrasi, Durul Gence 5, Yalcın Ateş 6.

My heroines were to be revealed a bit later after a more in-depth exploration of Turkish female singers' heritage. It was Esmeray that stole my heart – due to her unique voice and exceptional interpretations of Turkish music styles (you can read the piece about Esmeray here). It was Semiramis Pekkan – a sister of famous diva Ajda Pekkan whose musical achievements I eagerly started to follow. Şenay – a phenomenal and very forward-thinking singer, Huri Sapan - an amazing Turk Sanat artists whose song "Bir Şans Daha Var" became the opener of "Turkish Ladies" compilation, Gülden Karaböcek and finally Tülay Özer – one of the most talented interpreters of Turkish folk music.

0 views
  • Spotify
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Youtube Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon