Even if the name Sena Şener does not immediately ring a bell, you most definitely know her voice. Sena is the vocalist on the massive indie dance hit Feel (2016) by Turkish producer Mahmut Orhan.
She was only 16 years old at the time of the Orhan collaboration, but Sena’s musical career started even earlier. Before that, she shared her acoustic covers of English songs like Radioactive and Don’t You Worry Child on SoundCloud and YouTube.
Sena’s first studio album İnsan Gelir İnsan Geçer was released in 2018. A blend of folk, blues and rock music, all in Turkish, and all written and produced by Sena herself.
The Ölsem track was released as a single in March 2019. Sena Şener, who is sometimes compared to the late Amy Winehouse, turns 21 later this week. Doğum günün kutlu olsun!
The multi-talented Melisa Uzunarslan released her first studio album in December 2018. But at that time she already had an impressive musical resume.
Getting her first violin lessons as a 9-year-old girl, Melisa has a classical background. She was a member of various orchestras, including the Borusan İstanbul Philharmonic and the İstanbul State Opera and Ballet.
Melisa worked with international celebrities like George Benson and Lang Lang. Since 2013 she has been a violinist and vocalist at the concerts of the famous Turkish rock singer Teoman.
She wrote all the tracks on her debut album Tanıdığım En Güzel Deli, and Melisa also played the violin, piano and guitar. The video for Kabus was released this month. I think it’s a very powerful song.
It is difficult to label Kalben (full name Kalben Sağdıç) – she is a graphic designer, an actress, an author of children’s novels and yes, a singer/songwriter.
Her musical breakthrough was a viral acoustic video on the Sofar Sounds platform in 2014. In the past five years, Kalben has become an established name in the alternative Turkish music scene.
After two studio albums in 2016 (Kalben) and 2017 (Sonuza Kadar), Kalben has released an EP (Aşk Çeşmesi) with four tracks earlier this year. This is the video for Çek, partly interpreted in sign language.
Göksel is not your typical mainstream Turkish pop star, there is more to her music. Her lyrics are often relevant and very personal. She sang about depression in Depresyondayım – a track from Körebe (2001), a cult album in Turkish music history. And Taş Bebek (2007) denounces the beauty standards that women in our society must meet.
Also awesome: Göksel emerged as a wild rock diva in Dursun Zaman (2004), being a guest vocalist with maNga. This is a video of one of the group’s live performances, from the MTV Türkiye archives.
In the last decade Göksel recorded a few cover albums. However, I was pleasantly surprised that one of my favourite Turkish singers released new work in 2019: Hiç Yok (None at all), and Bu da Geçecek (This will pass) – a song written by Göksel together with the popular singer Mabel Matiz.
“Bu da geçecek biliyorum, kara güneşten gün doğacak” (I know that this will pass too, a new day will rise from the dark sun).
UK newspaper The Guardian recently introduced Gaye Su Akyol as “the most courageous artist in Turkey”. Her lyrics are sometimes controversial. Pleading for tolerance and more freedom, which is not always appreciated by Turkish authorities.
Pop meets rock in Akyol’s music. The singer/songwriter grew up and still lives in the Kadiköy district, in the Asian part of Istanbul. According to her, Kadiköy is now home to the alternative music scene in Turkey, as the European part – on the other side of the Bosphorus – has become more conservative in recent years.
İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir (Consistent Fantasy is Reality) is the title song of Akyol’s latest album and characteristic of her sound. Influenced by authentic Anatolian folk music and Turkish legends such as Selda Bağcan and Bariş Manço. But also by psychedelic surf rock and its Americana guitars. “Kavram olarak evrensel, ruh olarak yerel”, Gaye Su Akyol says about her music – universal in concept and local in spirit.
This release is very fresh, the video went live a few days ago: Böyle Gider mi? by Sude. Her full name is Sudenur Karakuş, and she wrote both the lyrics and the music of this song.
A new name in the Turkish music scene, so I couldn’t find much info about Sude online – except for her Instagram account and a low profile YouTube channel. Beautiful girl, with a pure and somewhat fragile voice. Definitely looking forward to what we will hear from her in the future.
Inspired by Guuzbourg‘s long-running blog about French “Filles Sourires”, I thought it was time to start my own music blog. More specifically, about women who sing in Turkish. So, here it is: Kadın Sesler. Hoş geldin!
I love the poetic Turkish language (although, unfortunately, I don’t understand everything). Especially when it is sung by female vocalists. On this blog I will share – irregularly, undoubtedly – new releases and occasionally older tracks by my favorite Turkish female singers.
Don’t expect the steamy beats you might know from the all-inclusive holiday resorts of Bodrum and Antalya. I prefer the more alternative Turkish music scene – poetic, sometimes raw, and often with a very characteristic psychedelic sound.
A good example is the woman who is also featured in the header image of this blog: Gökçe Kılınçer. Singer, musician and songwriter – and known for her retro-inspired sound. Gökçe has been living in London for a few years now, but her songs are still delightfully Turkish. This is one of her latest releases: Bu Son Akşamda (On this last evening).