Bülent Ersoy

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Bülent Ersoy
Portrait of Bülent Ersoy
Bülent Ersoy performing during a concert
Background information
Birth nameBülent Erkoç
Also known asDiva
Born (1952-06-09) 9 June 1952 (age 66)
Istanbul, Turkey
GenresOttoman classical music, Arabesque
Occupation(s)Singer, actress
Years active1974–present

Bülent Ersoy (Turkish pronunciation: [byˈlænt ˈæɾsoj]; born 9 June 1952) is a Turkish singer and actress. She is known as one of the most popular singers of Turkish music, nicknamed Diva by her fans. Ersoy has many 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).


1952–1973: Early life[edit]

Bülent Ersoy was born Bülent Erkoç on 9 June 1952 in Malatya, Turkey. Bülent began her career as a singer, in the genre of Turkish classical music, and became an actor early on. Already one of Turkey's most popular 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 typically masculine name.

Stage prohibition and restriction period[edit]

After the operation, Ersoy found herself in opposition to 1980 Turkish coup d'état of Kenan Evren. In a crackdown on "social deviance," Ersoy's public performances were banned along with those of other transgender people. 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 Turkey in protest of the Evren regime's repressive policies and continued her career in Germany. Later on in the decade in 1989 Evren left office and many of his policies were rescinded.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.

Trans identity and popularity[edit]

Classical Turkish music artists Bülent Ersoy, Muazzez Abacı and Adnan Şenses, 2012

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 than she had ever been before transitioning. Her public even took to calling her "Abla," or "elder sister," an affectionate and accepting term.

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, because her husband was more than 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.

2011–12: 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, Ersoy released a music video, nearly three months after the song was first played on the radio.

The "Bir Ben Bir Allah Biliyor" music video got more than 10 million views on YouTube.[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.

In late 2015, Ersoy stated in a press conference how Orhan Gencebay had mentioned to her that no one prominent had been producing Alaturka for the last couple of years. She stated that it was their mutual plan to 'get together' and think about what to for an album in this area. In early 2016, Ersoy said that she had listened to hundreds of songs and wasn't satisfied with what was brought to her (this being songs in the Pop/Arabesque genre). Although it's unclear as to when her next production will be, Ersoy seems to have returned from her semi-retired status and is producing new material. She announced that she would publish a new song in written by Tarkan, named "Umit Hirsizi".


  • Konser 1 (1976)
  • Konser 2 (1977)
  • Orkide 1 (1978)
  • Orkide 2 (1979)
  • Beddua (1980)[7]
  • Yüz Karası (1981)
  • Mahşeri Yaşıyorum (1982)
  • Ak Güvercin (1983)
  • Düşkünüm Sana (1984)
  • Yaşamak İstiyorum (1985)
  • Anılardan Bir Demet (1986)
  • Suskun Dünyam (1987)
  • Biz Ayrılamayız (1988)
  • İstiyorum (1989)
  • Öptüm (1990)
  • Bir Sen, Bir De Ben (1991)
  • Ablan Kurban Olsun Sana (1992)
  • Sefam Olsun (1993)
  • Akıllı Ol (1994)
  • Benim Dünya Güzellerim (1995)
  • Alaturka 95 (1995)
  • Maazallah (1997)
  • Alaturka 2000 (2000)
  • Canımsın (2002)
  • Aşktan Sabıkalı (2011)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Trash, Jimmy (19 December 2012). "Bülent Ersoy: The Remarkable Untold Story of a Turkish Icon, Transgender Diva and Unintentional Revolutionary". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  2. ^ Turgut, Pelin (2008-02-28). "Turkey's Anti-War Diva". TIME. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  3. ^ Video on YouTube
  4. ^ Video on YouTube
  5. ^ http://www.esenshop.com/detail.aspx?id=66448
  6. ^ http://www.esenshop.com/detail.aspx?id=63062
  7. ^ Gönül Dönmez-Colin The Routledge Dictionary of Turkish Cinema, p. 414, at Google Books

External links[edit]