Bülent Ersoy

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Bülent Ersoy
Portrait of Bülent Ersoy
Bülent Ersoy performing during a concert
Background information
Birth name Bülent Erkoç
Also known as Diva, Abla
Born (1952-06-09) 9 June 1952 (age 62)
Istanbul, Turkey
Genres Ottoman classical music, Arabesque
Occupations Singer, actress
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1974–present
Website www.divabulentersoy.com

Bülent Ersoy (Turkish pronunciation: [byˈlent ˈeɾsoj]; born 9 June 1952) is a Turkish trans woman celebrity and popular singer of Ottoman classical music. Over the years, Ersoy has become a symbol for the increased tolerance for LGBT figures in Turkey.

She is known as one of the greatest singers of Turkish music, fans called her Diva. She has very famous hits such as "Geceler" (Nights), "Beddua" (Curse), "Maazallah" (God Forbid!), "Biz Ayrılamayız" (We Cannot Break Up), "Sefam Olsun" (I Enjoy Myself), "Bir Tanrıyı Bir de Beni Sakın Unutma" (Never Ever Forget God and Me).

Biography[edit]

1952–1973: Early life[edit]

Bülent Ersoy was born Bülent Erkoç on 9 June 1952 in Istanbul.

1974–2010[edit]

Bülent began her career as a male singer, in the genre of Turkish classical music, and became an actor early on. Already one of Turkey's most popular male singers and actors, she gained international notoriety in 1981 after having sex reassignment surgery in London by a British plastic surgeon. she kept the name "Bülent" even though it is a male name.

After the operation, Ersoy found herself in opposition to the regime of Kenan Evren. In a crackdown on "social deviance," Ersoy's public performances were banned along with those of other transsexual and transgender people. From Ersoy's standpoint, the ban should not have even applied to her, as she was an actual woman and not simply a man dressed as one. To circumvent the ban, she petitioned the Turkish courts to legally recognize her as a woman. The petition was rejected in January 1982. Days later, she attempted suicide.[1] In 1983, she left the entertainment industry in protest of the Evren regime's repressive policies. Later that same year, Evren left office and many of his policies were rescinded.

Ersoy continued her career mostly in Germany in addition to Turkey. Along with her musical career, she made several Turkish movies in Germany. During that time she also started having a relationship with Birol Gürkanlı.

Finally, in 1988, the Turkish Civil Code was revised so that those who completed sex reassignment surgery could apply for a pink or blue (pink for female, blue for male) identity card by which they were legally recognized in their new sex. Ersoy soon returned to singing and acting, becoming more popular as a woman than she had been as a man. Her public even took to calling her "Abla," or "elder sister," an affectionate sign of their total acceptance of her gender.

Despite her personal victory and acceptance of her fans, Ersoy has had some controversy. Critics noted that in a film in which Ersoy plays a cancer patient who falls in love, she never kisses her leading man, though this may have had to do with her being germ phobic. On her 1995 album, Alaturka, she sang the adhan as part of the piece, "Aziz İstanbul," an act which, because of her being a trans woman, angered many Muslim clerics. In 1998, she married her companion, Cem Adler, this brought some controversy not because of her gender identity but rather that her husband was over twenty years younger than she was.

Ersoy was injured in January 1999 while driving with her husband, but recovered after surgery. Later that year, she divorced Adler after learning of his tryst with a call girl. She continued to perform in many TV shows and served as jury member on one of Turkey's most popular television shows, "Popstar Alaturka".

Ersoy married "Popstar Alaturka" contestant Armağan Uzun in July 2007, however filed for divorce in January 2008.

Ersoy sparked controversy in February 2008 when she publicly criticised Turkey's incursion into northern Iraq and said she "would not send her sons to war" if she were a mother.[2] An Istanbul public prosecutor has subsequently filed charges against her for "turning Turks against compulsory military service", an article which also brought prominent Turkish intellectual Perihan Mağden to trial in recent past. The Turkish Human Right Foundation (IHD) have stood up to Ersoy's defence. On 19 December 2008, Ersoy was pronounced not guilty of charges by a Turkish court.

In the show 'Popstar Alaturka', Bülent Ersoy has announced that she will have a new album expected to be ready by the end of 2010.

2011–present: Aşktan Sabıkalı[edit]

In late 2010, Ersoy announced that she had listened to nearly 1,500 songs in the last 2 years and found it difficult to choose the best songs for the album. Her new album Aşktan Sabıkalı, 'love convict', was released on 3 October 2011. The album includes a song written by Can Tanrıyar called 'Alışmak İstemiyorum' - 'I don't want to get used to it', and a classic by Orhan Gencebay: 'Bir Teselli Ver' - 'Give Me Support'. There also is a song by Gülşen; a pop music singer, 'Aşktan Sabıkalı'. One surprising addition to the album is a duet sung with Tarkan which was popular as it was performed by two of Turkey's leading artists. On 22 December Bülent released a music video, nearly three months after the song was first played on the radio.

The Bir Ben Bir Allah Biliyor YouTube video got more than 10 million views.[3]

2013 Onwards[edit]

In recent appearances on TRT in 2013, Ersoy has stated that she still regards the traditional approach to Classical music her true style. In a show, she stated how she was using the opportunity to demonstrate her true passion, loyalty and admiration for Turkish Classical Music, which, in essence, was Ersoy's way of "repenting"[4] from opting for a more Pop-Arabesque style. Indeed, her appearances on the TRT show her choosing to appear more conservative, not only in her choice of repertoire but also her stage performance. Ersoy was also keen to stress that her pop-arabesque songs were only a 'vice' to earn an income and classical music, which she received her University education in, is where her true alligeance and support lies. Although purely speculative, this could be seen as an early sign that Ersoy might produce another Turkish Classical Album. Although her last album was released in 2011,[5] her last album where she sang Classical and Alaturka songs was in 'Alaturka 2000',[6] after which she hasn't produced any material covering Alaturka or Classical material.

Discography[edit]

Filmography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]