Zara (Turkish singer)

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Birth name Neşe Yılmaz
Born (1976-01-15) 15 January 1976 (age 41)
Istanbul, Turkey
Genres Turkish folk music
Occupation(s) Singer, actress
Instruments Vocal
Years active 1996–present
Labels ZR Müzik

Neşe Yılmaz (born 15 January 1976), known by her stage name Zara, is a popular Turkish folk singer and actress.


Of Kurdish descent,[1][2] she was born in Üsküdar district of Istanbul on January 15, 1976. She graduated from the Sosyal Meskenler Primary School in Esatpaşa quarter. In 1991 and 1993, Zara, ranked first among female Turkish folk musical soloists in a nationwide high school level competition of music and folk dance organized by the newspaper Milliyet. She completed her higher education in the Department of Vocal Music of Istanbul Technical University State Conservatory. She released 8 arabesque albums as Neşecik (little Neşe) during her childhood.

In 1996, she passed the "qualified vocal artist" examination organized by TRT (Turkish Radio and Television Corporation) and started to work as a contract Turkish folk singer. She acted and sang the role of Amber in the Yunus Emre musical staged at Atatürk Cultural Center in 1997. In 1998, she published her album, Avuntu (Consolation). In the same year, she played a lead role with Tarık Akan in her first feature film, Eylül Fırtınası (September Storm), directed by Atıf Yılmaz. In 2000, Zara brought out her second album, Boyut (Dimension) featuring songs from old Turkish films. Video for the music on her album was distributed on VCD.

She acted in the movie Deli Yürek: Bumerang Cehennemi, in 2001. In 2002, she introduced to the market Misafir (Guest), her third album, and in 2003, Özlenenler (the ones who are missed) consisting of 27 songs on two disks. It was on her album Özlenenler that Zara surprised music lovers by singing the technically more demanding Turkish classical music for the first time.

Zara was a principal actress in a series for the first time in 2003 in Gelin (Daughter in law), for 28 episodes and was broadcast at Kanal D. In 2004, her music video Ağıt (Elegy), co-created with the Ministry of Public Works, was broadcast in the “Conscious Society to Natural Disasters” project.

Zara has received awards from organizations such as Kral TV and MGD (tr) (Association of Turkish magazine journalists). She was also awarded the Golden Butterfly prize as “The Best Singer at Turkish Folk Music” four times, from 2000 to 2003.

Zara continued her career with the album Zamanı Geldi (It is about time), which also had two CDs. The first CD of album comprised 17 Turkish folk songs and the second 12 arrangements from to 70’s. In October of the same year, Zara published a Turkish mystic music album with the symphony of “Bülbül-i Şeyda”.

Zara was the host of the show Zamanı Geldi at Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) that lasted for 41 episodes. At this program she hosted many artists, such as İbrahim Tatlıses, Selda Bağcan, Yavuz Bingöl, Edip Akbayram, Belkıs Akkale, İzzet Altınmeşe, Sabahat Akkiraz, Alişan, Funda Arar, Zerrin Özer, Fatih Erkoç, Muzaffer Akgün.

In Ramadan of 2006 she announced a suhur programme called Tanrı Misafiri (God-sent guest) at ATV, live from her house.

She married İskender Ulus, the owner of the recording company Ulus Müzik, in 2002. They divorced in 2007. Her second marriage was to Akif Beki, the chief counselor of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and journalist in Hürriyet newspaper, in 2012.


Year Album
1998 Avuntu
2000 Boyut
2002 Misafir
2003 Özlenenler
2005 Zamanı Geldi
2005 Bülbül-i Şeyda
2008 Bahar
2011 Hazine
2012 Zara ve İstanbul Flamenko 5'lisi
2014 Derin Aşk

As "Neşecik"

  • Eyvahlar Olsun (1986)
  • Yaşamak Bu Değil (1987)
  • Garibim (1988)
  • Taptığım Allah, Sevdiğim Sensin (1989)
  • Acımasız Dünya (1990)
  • Çek Kara Tren (1991)
  • Canım Askerim (1994)
  • Gurbet & Ağla Sevdiğim (1995)


Year Film Notes
1999 Eylül Fırtınası Television movie
2001 Deli Yürek: Bumerang Cehennemi Movie
2003 Gelin Television movie
2008 İpsiz Recep Movie

TV Programmes[edit]

Year TV Programme Channel
2005 Zamanı Geldi TRT
2006 Tanrı Misafiri Atv
2009 Salı Sefası tv8
2010 Salı Sefası tv8
2011 Salı Sefası tv8


  1. ^ "Kürt kızı Zara'nın inanılmaz yükselişi", Hürriyet, May 11, 2001.
  2. ^ Zara Kendini Dine Verdi!... Archived September 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Haber Vitrini, December 31, 2003.